Dorothy Driver is a Professor Emerita at the University of Cape Town. She holds a BA (Honours with distinction), MA and PhD from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from King’s College in London.
Dorothy Driver’s career has spanned over 30 years. Between 1981 and 2001 she taught full-time in the English Department at UCT and held a professorship from 1997 to 2005. In 2005, she took up a permanent post at the University of Adelaide, where she had been working as an adjunct professor since 2002. Though based in Adelaide, Driver regularly travels back to South Africa for research visits. During her visit to UCT in September 2013, she participated in a panel discussion on “Autobiography/Biography” alongside Nadia Davids (then-Queen Mary, now Associate Professor in this department) and Desirée Lewis (UWC), as part of the Africa, Reading, Humanities (ARH) series. Driver also ran several proposal-writing workshops with postgraduate students in the English Department, providing an excellent opportunity for students to learn from her expertise.
In addition to her academic appointments in Adelaide and Cape Town, Dorothy has held visiting-researcher and -professor positions at Stanford University (2002–2006), Flinders University (2002) and Chicago University (1996–2000). She has delivered conference papers, lectures, keynote addresses and workshops at institutions across Europe, North America and Africa.
Dorothy’s prolific bibliographical output spans several pages. Her research tends to dovetail, however, around constructions of race and gender both during apartheid and after it, with a special focus on women’s writing. She has published work on Olive Schreiner, Pauline Smith, Nadine Gordimer, Njabulo Ndebele, Yvonne Vera, Zoë Wicomb, Bessie Head, Gillian Slovo, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Lady Anne Barnard, and others.
See Dorothy Driver speaking at the NYC writers institute in 2012 on feminism and Zoe Wicomb: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVFp8lXa6No
The thematic concerns of her writing are expansive. They include the Cape cosmopolitan; writing and history; writing and subjectivity; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); Drum magazine; black women’s intellectual history; the spatial configurations of gender; hybridity, mutability and difference; the colonial enterprise; the politicisation of women; African political memoirs; and the African National Congress’ constitutional guidelines.
Dorothy co-edited the Southern African Review of Books for several years, and helped edit the Women Writing Africa: the Southern Region anthology, which was published in 2003. For twenty years she produced an annual review (“Survey of the Year’s Work”) for the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Rhodes University’s English in Africa journal and Flinders University’s Transnational Literature online journal.
Story by: Daniela Joffe (Updated March 2019)