Repositioning Renaissance studies in South Africa: strategic thinking or 'business-as-usual

Wright, L.S. (2006) Repositioning Renaissance studies in South Africa: strategic thinking or 'business-as-usual. Shakespeare in Southern Africa, 18 . pp. 1-9. ISSN 1011-582X

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Abstract

Increasingly, in many leading South African tertiary departments of literature, early modern studies have a fairly slim hold on the core curriculum. More and more, departmental offerings concentrate on nineteenth and twentieth century literature, perhaps in the belief either that today’s students are so poorly prepared that they will never be able to cope with the mental shifts necessary to appreciate pre-industrial literature and its language, or, worse, that nothing before the C19 colonial incursion into South Africa can really matter very much to undergraduates. Whatever the reason, in such departments, it is no longer possible to get to grips with the contribution of the renaissance to the formation of the modern world. The significance of the broader nomenclature, early modern studies, doesn’t appear to strike home, especially the point that, if students want to understand the world we live in, they have to know this period particularly well. Indeed, they need to have some idea of the interaction between early modern Europe and the literature and ideas of the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece. If we fail them in this regard, as I believe we are doing to an increasing extent, the result will be generations of intellectual sleepwalkers, denizens of mental landscapes they are responding to, or ‘reading’, in terms of an inner life unaware of important historical continuities and disjunctions; cut off, moreover, from understanding essential features of modernity.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This position paper extends an argument articulated in 'The Relevance of (South African)Renaissance Studies,' Shakespeare in Southern Africa 17, 2005, 19-25. Professor Laurence Wright is Director and Head of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA), Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
Uncontrolled Keywords:relevance of the humanities, academic careers, early modern studies, academic globalisation, the public sphere, Ian Willison, SASMARS, South African Medieval and Renaissance Society; Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa, SSOSA; power elite, African Renaissance; education; English literature; research; humanities; relevance; Renaissance studies; tertiary education; Africa; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)
ID Code:1356
Deposited By: Prof Laurence Wright
Deposited On:11 May 2009
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:20
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