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Jade Munslow Ong and Andrew van der Vlies (eds.), Olive Schreiner: Writing Networks and Global Contexts (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming)

This collection of essays considers the significance of South African-born writer, activist and thinker Olive Schreiner in international and multidisciplinary contexts in her time – and the ongoing relevance of her work to our own. A leading writer of New Woman Fiction at the fin de siècle, Schreiner influenced generations of readers, not to mention other writers. Taken together, these essays make the argument for a ‘new’ Schreiner Studies drawing on recent developments in scholarship on global and peripheral modernisms, activist networks and intersectionality, posthumanism, memory studies and intermediality. They position Schreiner’s work and legacy as significant for understanding literary and social archives, race and gender performance, and the rise of literary modernism in the global Anglosphere.

Contributors include: Barnita Bagchi; Heidi Barends; Emma Barnes; Dorothy Driver; Małgorzata Drwal; Jeremy Fogg and Paul Walters; Clare Gill; Nicholas Jose, Alex Sutcliffe and Mandy Treagus; Jade Munslow Ong; Sanja Nivesjö; Janet Remmington; Mark Sanders; Liz Stanley; Andrew van der Vlies; and Dan Wylie.

Jade Munslow Ong, ‘“Too uncompromising a figure to be so disposed of”: Virginia Woolf and/on Olive Schreiner’, English Studies in Africa, 65.1 (2022), 31-45.

In her 1925 review of an edited collection of Olive Schreiner’s letters, Virginia Woolf described Schreiner as ‘too uncompromising a figure to be so disposed of’. Prompted by this intriguing comment, this article brings Woolf’s late-1920s writings into conversation with Schreiner’s novels and letters in order to trace personal and textual connections between the two authors. Comparative analysis of Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm (1883) and Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928) reveals similarities and confluences in their novelistic structures, experimental temporalities, allegorical representations, use of natural imagery, and in the central and unifying linear motifs that are used to hold together the novel forms. Additional modernist aesthetic and political links are provided by depictions of sex- and gender-crossing characters in Orlando, The Story of an African Farm and Schreiner’s From Man to Man (1926), as well as by the feminist arguments and role of ‘Shakespeare’s sister’ in From Man to Man and Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929). The article concludes by arguing that Woolf and/on Schreiner provides evidence towards a claim for South Africa as a pioneering site of modernist innovation, and thereby contributes to new understandings of the development of global modernisms.  

Jade Munslow Ong, ‘Decolonising the English Literature GCE A-Level via the South African Ex-Centric’, English: Journal of the English Association, 70.270 (Autumn 2021), 244-252.


In this snapshot article, I outline the background and context for the development of research-led teaching activities aimed at students pursuing the WJEC Eduqas GCE A-Level English Literature qualification. The aims of these activities are threefold: first, to assist students’ learning and preparation for the exam component ‘Unseen Prose’ (worth 10% of the overall qualification); second, to extend the impact of AHRC-funded research on South African literature to 16- to 18-year-old learners; and third, to mobilize the first two aims in support of decolonizing efforts in English Studies.

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'Why Has Modernism Persisted in Africa?', Bristol Ideas (18th January 2023)






Jade Munslow Ong joins Zoe Steadman-Milne and Bristol Ideas to discuss the profound importance and contributions of Olive Schreiner, before turning to consider the work of other South African modernists.


[Radio] 'The South African Bloomsberries', The Essay, BBC Radio 3 (3rd April 2023)

South African and race relations aren't always thought of as being linked with the experimental writing and art promoted by the Bloomsbury set in 1920s Britain, but New Generation Thinker Jade Munslow Ong, from the University of Salford, argues that without a group of South African authors who came to Britain we might never have had Virginia Woolf's Orlando. But Roy Campbell, William Plomer and Laurens Van der Post weren't the only writers from that country with a Bloomsbury connection. A founder of the Native National Congress - later the ANC - was also hard at work on a novel depicting an interracial friendship.

[Radio] ‘South African Writing’, Free Thinking, BBC Radio 3 (14th June 2022)

Confronting South African history: Damon Galgut, Julia Blackburn, Jade Munslow Ong and Anne McElvoy discuss literature from the farm novel to the ongoing legacy of apartheid.


[Radio] ‘New Generation Thinkers 2022’, Free Thinking, BBC Radio 3 (31st March 2022)

From Shakespearian writing and Tudor sound to the power of song, ideas about stupidity to sea monsters and the soil - the ten academics working at UK universities who have been chosen to share their research on radio give us insights into a range of subjects. Laurence Scott - one of the first New Generation Thinkers back in 2010 is the host. Dr Ellie Chan, University of Manchester Dr Louise Creechan, University of Durham Dr Sabina Dosani, University of East Anglia Dr Shirin Hirsch, Manchester Metropolitan University and the People’s History Museum Dr Oskar Jensen, University of East Anglia Dr Jade Munslow Ong, University of Salford Dr Joan Passey, University of Bristol Dr Jim Scown, University of Cardiff and Food, Farming and Countryside Commission Dr Clare Siviter, University of Bristol Dr Emma Whipday, Newcastle University

[Podcast] ‘Promises Unkept: Damon Galgut with Andrew van der Vlies', Novel Dialogue (17 February 2022)

Guest host Chris Holmes sits down with Booker Prize winning novelist Damon Galgut and Andrew van der Vlies, distinguished scholar of South African literature and global modernisms at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Andrew and Damon tunnel down into the structures of Damon’s newest novel, The Promise to locate the ways in which a generational family story reflects broadly on South Africa’s present moment. The two discuss how lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic invoke for some the limitations on movement during the Apartheid era in South Africa. The Promise is a departure from Damon’s previous two novels, which were peripatetic in their global movement and range. Damon describes the ways in which this novel operates cinematically, as four flashes of a family’s long history, with the disembodied narrator being the one on the move. Damon provocatively divides novels into two traditions: those that provide consolation, and those that can provide true insight on the world but must do so with a cold distance. While he does not call The Promise an allegory, Damon admits to the fun that he has with inside jokes that play with allegorical connections, as long as the reader is in on the joke. Damon directly takes on his choice to leave a pregnant absence in the narrative’s insight into his black characters “sitting at the very heart of the book.”

[Radio] ‘Modernism around the World’, Free Thinking, BBC Radio 3 (2nd February 2022)


Rana Mitter and his guests Jade Munslow Ong, Devika Singh, María del Pilar Blanco and Christopher Harding put aside modernism’s Eurocentricism to look at pioneering modernist art, writing and architecture in India, South Africa, Japan and Latin America.


[Podcast] 'David Attwell in conversation with Zoë Wicomb and Andrew van der Vlies', Full Particulars: A Podcast on Historical Fiction (23rd June 2021)


In this first episode of David Attwell's monthly podcast, Full particulars, David hosts Zoë Wicomb reading from her new novel, Still Life (Umuzi, 2020) and discusses historical (meta)fiction with Andrew van der Vlies, Professor of English at the University of Adelaide. Andrew is the editor of Wicomb's collection of nonfiction, Race, nation and translation: South African essays, 1990-2013 (Yale University Press, 2018).​​


AHRC Arts Humanities
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