Acclaimed academic Sarah Nuttall’s free public lecture, Reality Hunger: The Way We Read Now, is on 14 April at 17:30 as part of the Great Texts / Big Questions series. The title is taken from David Shields’ book Reality Hunger. This lecture is as part of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) Great Texts / Big Questions lecture series and will be followed by a staged conversation between Nuttall and UCT’s Imraan Coovadia.

Reality Hunger looks at the rise of reality as an “in-your-face phenomenon”. It explores the increased focus on non-fiction and the memoir in the literary world, as well as the rise of reality TV, the multiple uses of documentary and the rise of the figure of the curator.

“All of these things express a hunger for reality, a need to feel,” said Nuttall. “Isn’t it true that we are putting novels aside, or leaving them unfinished more often to engage with a reality phenomenon that may include many features, even pleasures, of the unreal or the fictional in any case?” she asked. According to Nuttall, Shields thinks so. “Doesn’t the imaginative power of pure fiction, as in the novel, feel less central to the culture than it did before?” she asks. “Don’t things feel different now, from how they felt in the 90s – but how, and what can we begin to see in rough outline about our own twenty-first century zeitgeist?”

Sarah Nuttall is Research Professor in English at the University of Stellenbosch and worked for ten years at WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research). She is author, editor or co-editor of eight books, including co-editor of Text, Theory, Space: Land, Literature and History in South Africa and Australia (1996); Negotiating the Past: The Making of Memory in South Africa (1998); Senses of Culture: South African Culture Studies (2000) and editor of Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics (2004). Nuttall is also the author of Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid (2009) and co-editor of Johannesburg – The Elusive Metropolis and Load Shedding; Writing On and Over the Edge of South Africa.

This event will take place at Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town on Thursday 14 April at 17:30 and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No Booking is necessary. For more information on the series, please contact 021 480 7156 or

Sarah Nuttall audio recording available for download.

Sarah Nuttall video recording:

Start: 14 Apr ’11 5:30 pm

End: 14 Apr ’11 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall 

Phone: +27 21 480 7156 

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa