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Image: Gerard Sekoto, Three Men at a Railway Station (1939-40)
Image used with permission from The Gerard Sekoto Foundation


South African Modernism 1880-2020 is an AHRC-funded research project led by Prof Jade Munslow Ong (University of Salford, UK), with Co-Investigator Prof Andrew van der Vlies (University of Adelaide, Australia), Research and Innovation Associates Simon Stanton-Sharma (Salford) and Maire Tracey (Salford), and team members and project affiliates Dr Hannah Helm (Salford), Dr Emma Barnes (Salford), and Dr Sanja Nivesjö (Uppsala University, Sweden). The project examines South African literary modernism and its international connections across the period 1880-2020. It runs from January 2021 - August 2025, and details of events, publications, a blog, and other resources are hosted here. 

The project team pursues three related research strands. First, we examine how South African personal and textual networks helped shape literary modernism from the nineteenth century to the present day. Second, we investigate how modernism provided, and continues to provide, a politically-charged mode of representation for South African writers responding to major historical events and changing political, economic, social, and cultural contexts. Finally, we explore how South African literature is related, and compares, to other global forms of modernist writing.

AHRC Arts Humanities
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