CALL FOR PAPERS—RAL Special Issue on South African Literature A Priori

Molly Reinhoudt's picture
Call for Papers
January 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Race / Ethnic Studies, African History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Film and Film History

The word “a priori” has its origin in late 16th-century Latin and means “from what is before.” While the aim of this special issue is to examine the shifts and continuities of South African literature after Marikana (2012), the phrase “South African literature a priori” highlights the historical currents that create present forms, while simultaneously asserting that this new configuration of things is somewhat different from what was before. It is at this juncture of difference and continuity that we place this reading of contemporary South African literary studies.

South African literary studies post-independence has been termed transitional and then post-transitional in the main. The post-transitional was marked by a burgeoning of themes, styles, and concerns—to simplify this problematic concept—in relation to the dominant conceptualization of transitional literature. But South Africa is no longer in a transitional space; so, what has it become, as read through its literature? The “transnational turn” in global literary studies has resulted in many South African writers setting their works outside of the country’s borders altogether, while conceptions of world literature have dominated literary studies globally. In this context of accelerated change, both locally and globally, literary patterns and trends must necessarily reflect changing cultural configurations. What impact does this have on literary cultures in South Africa? 


The question is then what kinds of narratives are shaping South Africa post-2012, after the first major government-involved massacre after liberation when the image of South Africa in the global imaginary shifted fundamentally again. What narratives do we currently have that can adequately make sense of this shifting context where old nomenclature is inadequate? Can we think through literary texts that reflect the nuances of the present better? This special issue aims to examine South African literature and the theoretical conceptions that define South African literary and cultural production from 2012 onward. Submissions may discuss any genre or pattern in South African literature of the present.


All finished manuscripts are expected to conform to the standard RAL guidelines published in every issue of the journal and all submissions will be subject to peer review. Prospective contributors should send their 300–500-word abstracts by January 15, 2021 and expect notification of selection by February 1, 2021. Final papers are due by May 15, 2021 and will be subject to peer review. The guest editors encourage potential contributors to establish early contact via email to (Sikhumbuzo Mngadi) or (Ronit Frenkel).

Contact Info: 

Sikhumbuzo Mngadi

Univeristy of Johannesburg

B Ring 702

+27 (0) 11 559 4631


Ronit Frenkel

Univeristy of Johannesburg

B Ring 719

+011 559 2553

Contact Email: