Invitation: Inaugural lecture by UGent South Africa Chair Marlene van Niekerk | 23 November 2023

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You are cordially invited to the inaugural lecture of this year’s endowed Chair of South Africa: Languages, Literature, Culture and Society at Ghent University.

In her inaugural lecture, the acclaimed South African writer, philosopher, and professor emeritus at Stellenbosch University, Marlene van Niekerk examines what kind of critical apparatus would be needed to best identify the conditions of possibility under which Afrikaans literature was produced. What kind of self-understanding could be expected from a historically privileged South African who teaches literature to foreign students?

Rather than a straight-forward theoretical critique, this inaugural lecture will offer a semi-literary and rhetorically amplified performance or demonstration in response to these questions. Its central thesis is that walking, especially at dusk, even along a familiar route, solves problems. The performance proceeds via a preamble of way-finding allegories, followed by an autobiographical narrative tracing a Hesperian perambulation, a walk undertaken by the author in an odd neighbourhood earlier this year in South Africa.

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