Professor Andrew van der Vlies

Professor Andrew van der Vlies
 Position Professor
 Org Unit English and Creative Writing
 Telephone +61 8 8313 4249
 Location ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    I was born and raised in South Africa and read for BA and BA(Hons) degrees and completed an MA by research at Rhodes University in Grahamstown/Makhanda. I was a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Oxford, where I completed an MPhil in English Literature (1880-present) and a doctorate (DPhil) on the development of the idea of a ‘South African’ literary tradition between 1883 and 1979.

    My books include monographs and edited and co-edited volumes on print culture and national literary historiography, and on cultural engagements with the discontents of political transition (listed below and described further in my research profile here).

    I join the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide as Professor in 2021 after teaching for 16 years in the United Kingdom — at the University of Sheffield (from 2005) and, most recently, Queen Mary University of London (since 2010). I also hold an honorary position as Extraordinary Professor in the Department of English at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

  • Qualifications

    • BA (English and Legal Theory), Rhodes University, South Africa
    • BA (Hons) (English), Rhodes University, South Africa
    • MA in English, Rhodes University, South Africa
    • MPhil in English (1880-present), University of Oxford, UK
    • DPhil in English, University of Oxford, UK

  • Research Interests

    • Modern and contemporary literatures in English (British, North American, African, Australian)
    • Modernisms, global and peripheral
    • South African literatures (in English and Afrikaans), literary historiography, visual cultures, fine art, cultural studies
    • Affect studies, ‘Public Feelings’, politics and emotion
    • Gender and sexuality studies and Queer Theory
    • creative non-fiction, autofiction, poetry
    • History of the Book / print and text cultures (especially colonial and postcolonial) / textual editing
    • ‘World Literature’ and ‘Postcolonial Studies’ (theory, practice, pedagogy)
    • Translation theory and practice
    • Individual writers: Anne Carson, J. M. Coetzee, Joseph Conrad, Rachel Cusk, Joan Didion, Nadine Gordimer, Alex La Guma, Maggie Nelson, Michael Ondaatje, Claudia Rankine, Marilynne Robinson, Karel Schoeman, Olive Schreiner, Susan Sontag, Marlene van Niekerk, Zoë Wicomb, Ingrid Winterbach


  • Publications


    Present Imperfect: Contemporary South African Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 245 pp. link

    J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. London and New York: Continuum [Bloomsbury], 2010. 111 pp. link

    South African Textual Cultures. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007 [paperback 2011]. 223 pp. link

    Edited volumes

    South African Writing in Transition, ed. with Rita Barnard. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. 296 pp. link

    Zoë Wicomb, Race, Nation, and Translation: South African Essays, 1989-2013. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, and Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2018. 368 pp. link

    Print, Text, & Book Cultures in South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2012. 476 pp. link

    Edited Journal Issues

    Queer Worlds/Global Queer, special issue of Wasafiri, no. 98 (Summer 2019), co-edited with Dean Atta. link

    Zoë Wicomb, Transnationalism and Cosmopolitanism, special issue of Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 12.3/4 (July–October 2011), co-edited with Kai Easton.

    South African Cultural Texts and the Global Mediascape, special issue of Scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa 13.1 (2008), co-edited with Patrick Flanery.

    Histories of the Book in Southern Africa, special issue of English Studies in Africa 47.1 (2004).

    Book chapters (select list)

    Writing, politics, position: Coetzee and Gordimer in the archive’, in J. M. Coetzee and the Archive: Fiction, Theory, and Autobiography, ed. Marc Farrant, Kai Easton, and Hermann Wittenberg (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021), pp. 59-75.

    ‘Publics and Personas’, in The Cambridge Companion to J. M. Coetzee, ed. Jarad Zimbler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), pp. 234-48. Link.

    ‘Queer Returns in Postapartheid Short Fiction: S. J. Naudé’s The Alphabet of Birds’, in South African Writing in Transition, ed. Rita Barnard and Andrew van der Vlies (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), pp. 195-215.

    ‘Zoë Wicomb’s South African Essays: Intertextual Ethics, Translative Possibilities, and the Claims of Discursive Variety’, in Race, Nation, Translation: South African Essays, 1990-2013, by Zoë Wicomb, ed. Andrew van der Vlies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), pp. 3-33.

    ‘Intertextualities, Interdiscourses, and Intersectionalities: An Interview with Zoë Wicomb’, in Race, Nation, Translation: South African Essays, 1990-2013, by Zoë Wicomb, ed. Andrew van der Vlies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), pp. 261-81.

    ‘The Novel and Apartheid’, in The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Volume 11: The Novel in Africa and the Atlantic World, ed. Simon Gikandi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 181-97.

    ‘“MêME DYING STOP CONFIRM ARRIVAL STOP”: Provincial Literatures in Global Time: The Case of Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat’, in Institutions of World Literature: Writing, Translation, Markets, ed. Pieter Vermeulen and Stefan Helgesson (London & New York: Routledge, 2015), pp. 191-208.

    ‘“[From] whom this writing then?”: Politics, Aesthetics and the Personal in Coetzee’s Age of Iron’, in Approaches to Teaching Coetzee’s Disgrace and Other Works, ed. Laura Wright, Elleke Boehmer, Jane Poyner (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2014), pp. 96-104.

    ‘Print, Text, and Books in South Africa’, in Print, Text, and Book Cultures in South Africa, ed. Andrew van der Vlies (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2012), pp. 2-48.

    In—or Fromthe Heart of the Country: Local and Global Lives of Coetzee’s Antipastoral’, in Print, Text, and Book Cultures in South Africa, ed. Andrew van der Vlies (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2012), pp. 166-94.

    ‘South Africa in the Global Imaginary’, in The Cambridge History of South African Literature, ed. Derek Attridge and David Attwell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 697-716.

    July’s People in Context: Apartheid’s dystopias abroad’, in Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People, ed. Brendon Nicholls (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 115-30.

    ‘The History of the Book in Sub-Saharan Africa’, in The Oxford Companion to the Book, 2 vols, vol. 1, ed. Michael F. Suarez SJ and Henry Woudhuysen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp 313-20. [Republished as ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’, in The Book: A Global History, ed. Michael F. Suarez SJ and Henry Woudhuysen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 512-23.] 

    ‘Outside the Nation(al): “South African” print and book cultures, and global “text-scapes”’, in Books Without Borders, Vol. 1: The Cross-National Dimension in Print Culture, ed. Mary Hammond and Robert Fraser (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), pp. 173-85.

    Articles (select list)

    ‘World literature, the opaque archive, and the untranslatable: J. M. Coetzee and some others’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Published online 24 Feb. 2021, forthcoming in print.

    ‘Reading for Hope: a conversation about texts and method’ (with Julia Willén), Safundi 19.3 (2018): 357-73.

    ‘Thick Time: William Kentridge, Peripheral Modernisms, and the Politics of Refusal’. Modernism / Modernity Print Plus 2.1 (March 2017). link

    ‘The People, the Multitude, and the Costs of Privacy in South Africa’s Postcolony’, Cultural Studies 27.3 (May 2013): 496-518.

    ‘Art as Archive: Queer Activism and Contemporary South African Visual Cultures’, Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Culture 34.1 (2012): 94-116. link

    ‘“I’m only grateful that it’s not a Cape Town book”, or Zoë Wicomb, textuality, propriety, and the proprietary’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature 48.1 (March 2013): 9-25.

    ‘Queer Knowledge and the Politics of the Gaze in Contemporary South African Photography: Zanele Muholi and others’, Journal of African Cultural Studies 24.2 (December 2012): 140-56.

    ‘Zoë Wicomb’s Queer Cosmopolitanisms’, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 12.3-4 (July-October 2011): 425-44.

    ‘Zoë Wicomb, the Cape & the Cosmopolitan: An introduction’ (with Kai Easton), Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 12.3-4 (July-October 2011): 249-59.

    ‘An Interview with Mark Behr’, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 12.1 (January 2011): 1-26.

    ‘The Archive, the Spectral, and Narrative Responsibility in Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light’, Journal of Southern African Studies 36.3 (September 2010): 583-98.

    ‘An Interview with Jeremy Cronin, Conducted by Andrew van der Vlies’, Contemporary Literature 49.4 (Winter 2008): 514–539.

    ‘Annexing the Global, Globalizing the Local’ (with Patrick Flanery), Scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa 13.1 (2008): 3-17.

    ‘Reading Banned Books: Apartheid Censors and Anti-Apartheid Aesthetics’, Wasafiri 22.3 (November 2007): 55-61.

    ‘Transnational Print Cultures: Books, -scapes, and the textual Atlantic’, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 8.1 (January 2007): 45-55.

    ‘“Local” Writing, “Global” Reading, and the Demands of the “Canon”: the case of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country’, South African Historical Journal 55 (2006): 20-32.

    ‘“Hurled by what aim to what tremendous range!”: Roy Campbell and the Politics of Anthologies, 1927-1945’, English Studies in Africa 48.1 (2005): 63-85.

    ‘The Institutions of South African Literature’, English Studies in Africa 47.1 (2004): 1-15.

    ‘“Your Passage Leaves its Track of…Change”: Textual Variation in Roy Campbell’s “Tristan da Cunha”, 1926-1945’, English Studies in Africa 46.1 (2003): 47-61.

    ‘The Editorial Empire: The Fiction of “Greater Britain”, and the Early Readers of Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm’, TEXT: An Inter-disciplinary Annual of Textual Studies 15 (2002): 237-60.


    Sheila Cussons, Two Poems (‘Exile II’ and ‘Supermarket’), translator, Modern Poetry in Translation no. 3, (2020): 102-104.

    Sheila Cussons, 'Anxiety sounds', translator, Denver Quarterly 55, no. 2 (Spring 2021): 8.

    [Academic reviews, review essays, journalism, and original poetry not listed.]


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Entry last updated: Saturday, 15 May 2021

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