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Head of Department

Assoc. Prof Barbara Boswell


MPhil Western Cape, PhD Maryland

Office: Room 122, AC Jordan Building


Barbara Boswell is a feminist literary scholar and creative writer with research and teaching interests in Black diasporic women’s writing, Black South African women’s literature, and queer theory. She earned a PhD from the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studied as a Fulbright Scholar. Her MPhil was completed at the Women’s and Gender Studies Programme at the University of the Western Cape.

She is the author of And Wrote My Story Anyway: Black South African Women's Novels as Feminism (Wits University Press, 2020) and Grace: A Novel (Modjaji Books, 2017), winner of the University of Johannesburg Debut Creative Writing Prize.

Barbara has taught at the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia, where she was an ACLS Postdoctoral fellow at the Carter G Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. She has also taught in the English Department at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. 

An editorial board member of the feminist journal Agenda, Barbara has co-edited special issues of journals on Lauretta Ngcobo’s literary legacy, and African womxn’s participation in student movements.

She is currently writing a literary biography of Lauretta Ngobo.

Research Interests

Postcolonial African literature

Feminism and Postcoloniality

Queer Theory

Black Feminist Thought

Intersectional Feminist Theory

Recent publications

Race, Science, and Gender: Producing the Black Woman’s Body as the Deviant, Degenerate ‘Other’” in Fault Lines: A Primer on Race, Science and Society, edited by Jonathan Jansen and Cyrill Walters. (African Sun Media, 2020). 

Reclaiming Sex and Queering the Word: Black South African Women’s Poetry on Sexuality” in Our Words, Our Worlds: Writing on Black South African Women Poets, 2000- 2019 , edited by Makhosazana Xaba. (UKZN Press, 2019)

With Victoria J. Collis-Buthelezi. "And She Didn’t Die: Celebrating Lauretta Ngcobo’s Life and Literary Legacy (1931–2015)." scrutiny2 (2017): 1-5.

With Sandy Ndelu and Simamkele Dlakavu. "Womxn's and nonbinary activists’ contribution to the RhodesMustFall and FeesMustFall student movements: 2015 and 2016." (2017): 1-4.

Boswell, Barbara. "Overcoming the ‘daily bludgeoning by apartheid’: black South African women writers, agency, and space." African Identities (2017): 1-14.

"Rewriting apartheid South Africa: race and space in Miriam Tlali and Lauretta Ngcobo’s novels." Gender, Place & Culture 23.9 (2016): 1329-1342.

"On Miniskirts and Hegemonic Masculinity." in Contested Intimacies: Sexuality, Gender and Law in Africa. Edited by Victoria Collis-Buthelezi and Derrick Higginbotham. Siber Ink Press (2015): 46-65.

"Black revolutionary masculinity in Miriam Tlali's Amandla: Lessons for contemporary South Africa." Agenda 27.1 (2013): 32-39.