Department of English launches third year seminars

The Department of English has a key role to play in the academic and human projects articulated in the current strategic plan of the University of the Free State. These projects have the two-fold aim of, firstly, cultivating lively and productive intellectual cultures that will, amongst other things, enrich the teaching and pedagogical practices of staff, and, secondly, advancing social responsibility and promoting “openness to the perspectives, experiences and cultures of others”. These aims are reflected in the many exciting research and teaching projects currently undertaken by staff and students in this department. One such a project is the inclusion of academic seminars as part of the third year English curriculum. As of 2017, all third years enrolled in English will be able to choose from a wide variety of seminars. Said seminars are implemented as part of the department’s continued efforts to include forms of instruction concentrating on the links between education and democracy, texts and contexts, even as they train students in basic skills that range from the close reading of cultural, linguistic and theoretical texts, to the ability to speak and write in clear and grammatically accurate English.

The department consists of two academic streams – one in English Literary and Cultural Studies and the other in Linguistics (co-offered with the Department of Linguistics) – that give students access to a variety of skills fundamental to the analysis of language, literature, and culture. Majoring in one or both of these academic streams will offer students extensive training in a range of texts tied to specific historical periods and movements, as well as to local South African and global contexts. Students are further given rigorous instruction in the interpretative, analytical, writing, reading and oral communication skills at the heart of critical and creative deliberation in contemporary South Africa. This knowledge and skills base provides the foundation from which students can enter into national and international conversations in and beyond their chosen areas of specialisation. It also serves as a firm intellectual basis for students who choose to embark on advanced research both at the UFS and elsewhere.

Each semester, students may choose from a selection of quality seminars covering specialized and wide-ranging topics, such as:

  • Ecocriticism and affect theory;
  • Cultures in contemporary South African spaces;
  • Hierarchies in the literature of J.R.R. Tolkien;
  • Literary and discursive representations of suicides and euthanasia as well as pro-eating disorders,
  • The ways in which oil is framed and imagined in literary and filmic representations;
  • The issues of feminism, interracial adoption, and celebrity cultures and its relation to kinship and belonging;
  • The book as a material form alongside its past and present-day equivalents; and
  • The literary, cinematic, and symbolic ways that animals appear in a wide range of texts from children’s and young adult novels and film to classic allegories and mass media platforms.

The department believes that these seminars will aid students in nurturing their critical sensibilities through a curriculum that meets national and international standards. Furthermore, these sessions will add value the unique cultural and experiential background of each student as well as facilitate participatory forms of education that will encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Finally, seminars will benefit students through training them in a range of literacies – including critical, visual, cross-cultural, transnational and digital literacies – that might contribute to the formation of engaged South African publics.


T: +27 51 401 2240 or

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Neliswa Emeni-Tientcheu: +27 51 401 2536
Phyllis Masilo: +27 51 401 9683

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