Andrew van der Vlies

Professor Andrew van der Vlies


School of Humanities

Faculty of Arts

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

I joined the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide as Professor in January 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).

My research and teaching interests include:

-- 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 / 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

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students in any of these areas or on a broadly related topic.

I was born and raised in South Africa, where, at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (now Makhanda), I completed a BA in English and Law and an Honours degree in English before writing an MA dissertation on the American novelist Paul Auster. I went to the University of Oxford as a Commonwealth Scholar in 1998, reading first for the erstwhile MPhil in English Literature (1880-present), and subsequently completing a DPhil dissertation, supervised by Peter D. McDonald, on the development of the idea of a ‘South African’ literary tradition between 1883 and 1979. My books include monographs on South African print cultures, and on postapartheid writing, affect and temporality, and a number of edited and co-edited volumes.

I have been awarded fellowships and grants by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust in the UK, the Harry Ransom Research Center in the US, and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study in South Africa. I am at present co-investigator on a British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project on literary modernisms in South Africa. 

I hold the honorary position of Extraordinary Professor in the Department of English at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

Alongside my scholarly work, I am developing a practice as a translator.

My first book, South African Textual Cultures (Manchester University Press, 2007, pbk. 2011), considered the construction of the idea of an anglophone South African literature through a series of case studies of the publication and reception histories of authors from Olive Schreiner, Alan Paton, and Alex La Guma, to J.M. Coetzee and Zakes Mda. Rita Barnard (UPenn) called it ‘the first major study to question the very category of “South African literature” and to describe the process of its construction in a sustained, engaging, theoretically astute manner’. I continue to write about and facilitate work on African and South African print cultures: I contributed the essay on "The History of the Book in Sub-Saharan Africa" to the Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), for which I also acted as an associate editor; Wits University Press published my edited reader Print, Text and Book Cultures in South Africa in 2012; and I am currently editing a new scholarly edition of Olive Schreiner’s important 1883 novel, The Story of an African Farm, for Edinburgh University Press, in a series for which I am general co-editor.

My most recent monograph developed from an ongoing interest in writing from South Africa over the past three decades, as well as in affect studies and recent queer-theoretical engagements with time. Present Imperfect: Contemporary South African Writing (Oxford University Press, 2017), mobilizes an understanding of disappointment as description of affect and of temporality (a missed appointment with a future imagined by the anti-apartheid movement) to consider how postapartheid writing engages temporality, genre, and form in its treatment of the fate of the hope that attended the birth of the ‘new’ nation in 1994. Considering in detail work in English (by J. M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Songeziwe Mahlangu, Masande Ntshanga, Ivan Vladislavić, and Zoë Wicomb) and in Afrikaans (by Marlene van Niekerk and Ingrid Winterbach), it assesses writers’ engagements with a range of negative feelings that are also experiences of temporal disjuncture, including stasis, impasse, boredom, disaffection, and nostalgia. Simon Gikandi (Princeton) calls the book ‘one of the most lucid and original reflections on South African writing after Apartheid’. Derek Attridge (York) says it ‘provides an insightful, absorbing and theoretically astute investigation of the status of contemporary South African literature’.

I have published elsewhere on Gordimer and on Coetzee, including a short Continuum/Bloomsbury book on Disgrace and a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to J. M. Coetzee; I am also co-editor of the forthcoming Bloomsbury Handbook to J. M. Coetzee, and a chapter on Coetzee's engagements with Gordimer appears in 2021. I have co-edited special issues of journals on South Africa and the global mediascape and on Wicomb and transnationalism, and contributed chapters to the Cambridge History of South African Literature (2012) and the Oxford History of the Novel in English (vol. 11, 2016). I have also published on queer politics and performance in contemporary South African art (with a focus on Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi). In February 2019, Bloomsbury Academic published South African Writing in Transition, a multi-author collection of essays on postapartheid literature, which I co-edited with Rita Barnard.

Race, Nation, Translation: South African Essays, 1990-2013, an edited collection of essays by the prizewinning South African-born writer Zoë Wicomb, was published by Yale University Press in the US and UK and by Wits University Press in South Africa, in November 2018. You can hear me talking with David Attwell about Zoë Wicomb's most recent novel, Still Life, on the first episode of the LitNet podcast 'Full Particulars' here (June 2021)

I served as Lead Editor of the Taylor and Francis journal Safundi for a decade, and continue to serve on its editorial board, as well as on the boards of several other peer-reviewed journals. 

I am co-investigator on an AHRC-funded project (with Jade Munslow-Ong) on literary modernisms in South Africa, whose outputs will include an essay collection. Other current projects include a new monograph that extends my work on affect and form to a range of contemporary literary and other (including legal) texts and cultural objects from South Africa, the United States, Britain, and Australia.

Alongside my scholarly work, I am developing a practice as a translator; my translations of poetry by the Afrikaans-language poet Sheila Cussons have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation (2020, No. 3), The Denver Quarterly (vol 55, no. 2, 2021), and the online journal Asymptote (Summer 2021).

  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2019 Atta, D., & van der Vlies, A. (2019). Queer Worlds/Global Queer. Wasafiri, 34(2), 1-2.
    2018 Willén, J., & van der Vlies, A. (2018). Reading for hope: a conversation about texts and method. Safundi, 19(3), 357-373.
    2017 van der Vlies, A. (2017). ‘Thick Time: William Kentridge, Peripheral Modernisms, and the Politics of Refusal’. Modernism/Modernity Print Plus.
    2013 van der Vlies, A. (2013). RESPONSE: The People, the Multitude and the Costs of Privacy in South Africa's Postcolony. Cultural Studies, 27(3), 496-518.
    DOI Scopus1
    2013 Van Der Vlies, A. (2013). "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), 9-25.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5
    2012 Van Der Vlies, A. (2012). Queer knowledge and the politics of the gaze in contemporary South African photography: Zanele Muholi and others. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24(2), 140-156.
    DOI Scopus12 WoS13
    2012 van der Vlies, A. (2012). South African Literature beyond the Cold War. MODERN LANGUAGE QUARTERLY, 73(2), 248-251.
    2011 van der Vlies, A. (2011). An interview with Mark Behr. Safundi, 12(1), 1-26.
    DOI Scopus1
    2011 Easton, K., & Van Der Vlies, A. (2011). Zoë Wicomb, the Cape and the Cosmopolitan: An Introduction. Safundi, 12(3-4), 249-259.
    DOI Scopus1
    2011 van der Vlies, A. (2011). Zoë Wicomb's Queer Cosmopolitanisms. Safundi, 12(3-4), 425-444.
    DOI Scopus4
    2011 van der Vlies, A. (2011). Alex La Guma: A Literary & Political Biography. JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN STUDIES, 37(2), 392-+.
    2010 van der Vlies, A. (2010). The Archive, the spectral, and narrative responsibility in Zoë Wicomb's Playing in the Light. Journal of Southern African Studies, 36(3), 583-598.
    DOI Scopus23 WoS19
    2008 Flanery, P. D., & Van Der Vlies, A. (2008). Introduction: Annexing the global, globalizing the local. Scrutiny2, 13(1), 5-19.
    DOI Scopus4
    2008 van der Vlies, A. (2008). On the ambiguities of narrative and of history: Writing (about) the past in Recent South African literary criticism. Journal of Southern African Studies, 34(4), 949-961.
    DOI Scopus3 WoS6
    2008 Van Der Vlies, A. (2008). An interview with Jeremy Cronin. Contemporary Literature, 49(4), 515-540.
    DOI Scopus6
    2007 van Der Vlies, A. (2007). Transnational print cultures: Books, -scapes, and the textual atlantic. Safundi, 8(1), 45-55.
    DOI Scopus9
    2007 van der Vlies, A. (2007). Reading Banned Books: Apartheid Censors and Anti-Apartheid Aesthetics. Wasafiri, 22(3), 55-61.
    DOI Scopus3
    2006 Van der Vlies, A. (2006). ‘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(1), 20-32.
    DOI Scopus9
    2006 Van Der Vlies, A. (2006). South Africa and the global imagination: The local and the global in literary and cultural studies. Scrutiny2, 11(1), 115-125.
    2005 Van Der Vlies, A. (2005). 'Hurled by what aim to what tremendous range!': Roy campbell and the politics of anthologies, 1927-1945.. English Studies in Africa, 48(1), 63-85.
    2003 Van Der Vlies, A. (2003). 'Your passage leaves its track of... change': Textual variation in Roy Campbell's 'tristan Da Cunha', 1926-1945. English Studies in Africa, 46(1), 47-61.
    DOI Scopus2
    2002 van der Vlies, A. (2002). ‘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, 237-260.
    van der Vlies, A. (n.d.). World Literature, the opaque archive, and the untranslatable: J. M. Coetzee and some others. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 002198942098874.
  • Books

    Year Citation
    2019 Barnard, R., & van der Vlies, A. (Eds.) (2019). South African Writing in Transition. Bloomsbury.
    2018 Wicomb, Z. (2018). Race, Nation, and Translation: South African Essays, 1989-2013. A. van der Vlies (Ed.), Yale University Press.
    2017 van der Vlies, A. (2017). Present Imperfect: Contemporary South African Writing. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
    2012 van der Vlies, A. (Ed.) (2012). Print, Text, and Book Cultures in South Africa.
    2011 van der Vlies, A. (2011). South African Textual Cultures: White, Black, Read All Over (Paperback edition (of 2007 first edition in hardback) ed.). Manchester: Manchester University Press.
    2010 van der Vlies, A. (2010). J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (Continuum Contemporaries). Continuum (Bloomsbury).
  • Book Chapters

    Year Citation
    2021 van der Vlies, A. (2021). ‘Writing, politics, position: Coetzee and Gordimer in the archive’. In M. Farrant, K. Easton, & H. Wittenberg (Eds.), J. M. Coetzee and the Archive: Fiction, Theory, and Autobiograph (pp. 59-75). Bloomsbury.
    2020 van der Vlies, A. (2020). Publics and Personas. In J. Zimbler (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to J. M. Coetzee (pp. 234-248). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    2019 van der Vlies, A. (2019). Queer Returns in Postapartheid Short Fiction: S. J. Naudé’s The Alphabet of Birds. In R. Barnard, & A. van der Vlies (Eds.), South African Writing in Transition (pp. 195-215). London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Academic.
    2018 van der Vlies, A. (2018). ‘Zoë Wicomb’s South African Essays: Intertextual Ethics, Translative Possibilities, and the Claims of Discursive Variety'. In A. van der Vlies (Ed.), Race, Nation, Translation South African Essays, 1990-2013 (pp. 3-33). New Haven, Connecticut; USA: Yale University Press.
    2018 van der Vlies, A., & Wicomb, Z. (2018). Intertextualities, Interdiscourses, and Intersectionalities: An Interview with Zoë Wicomb. In A. van der Vlies (Ed.), Race, Nation, Translation South African Essays, 1990-2013 (pp. 261-281). New Haven, Connecticut; USA: Yale University Press.
    2016 van der Vlies, A. (2016). The Novel and Apartheid. In S. Gikandi (Ed.), The Novel in Africa and the Caribbean Since 1950 (pp. 181-197). New York, NY; USA: Oxford University Press.
    2015 Van Der Vlies, A. (2015). "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 (pp. 191-208). Routledge.
    DOI Scopus1
    2014 van der Vlies, A. (2014). ‘“[From] whom this writing then?”: Politics, Aesthetics and the Personal in Coetzee’s Age of Iron’.. In L. Wright, E. Boehmer, & J. Poyner (Eds.), Approaches to Teaching Coetzee's Disgrace and Other Works (pp. 96-104). Modern Language Assn of Amer.
    2012 van der Vlies, A. (2012). ‘Print, Text, and Books in South Africa.’. In A. van der Vlies (Ed.), Print, Text, and Book Cultures in South Africa (pp. 2-48). Wits University Press.
    2012 van der Vlies, A. (2012). ‘In—or From—the Heart of the Country: Local and Global Lives of Coetzee’s Antipastoral’.. In A. van der Vlies (Ed.), Print, Text, and Book Cultures in South Africa. (pp. 166-194).
    2012 Van Der Vlies, A. (2012). South Africa in the global imaginary. In The Cambridge History of South African Literature (pp. 697-716). Cambridge University Press.
    DOI Scopus4
    2010 Van Der Vlies, A. (2010). The history of the book in sub-Saharan Africa. In The Oxford Companion to the Book (pp. 313-320). Oxford University Press.
    DOI Scopus2
    2010 van der Vlies, A. (2010). ‘July’s People in Context: Apartheid’s dystopias abroad’.. In B. Nicholls (Ed.), Nadine Gordimer's July's People: A Routledge Study Guide (pp. 115-130). Routledge.
    2008 Van Der Vlies, A. (2008). Outside the nation(al): 'South African' print and book cultures, and global 'text-scapes'. In R. Fraser, & M. Hammond (Eds.), Books Without Borders, Volume 1: The Cross-National Dimension in Print Culture (pp. 173-185). PALGRAVE.

I have been awarded fellowships and grants by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust in the UK, the Harry Ransom Research Center in the US, and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study in South Africa. I am at present co-investigator on a British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project on South African modernisms, 1880-1920. 

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