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Head of Department

Associate Professor Sandra Young

BA (Hons) MA UCT, MPhil DPhil Rutgers

Office: AC Jordan 103A
Tel: +27 (0)21 650 3009

Research interests

  • Early modern literature and thought, and book history
  • Shakespeare in the Global South
  • Early American literature and the literatures of slavery
  • African, diasporic and African-American literatures
  • Post-colonial literature and theory
  • Post-apartheid literary and cultural studies
  • Archive, practices of memorialisation and trauma studies

My first book, The Early Modern Global South in Print: Textual Form and the Production of Human Difference as Knowledge, traces the emergence of the early modern ‘global south’. It examines the role of early modern scholarly and visual texts (geographies, maps and natural histories) in establishing the racialised imaginary within which the ‘southern parts’ of the world have been positioned. I am interested in textual form and its impact on relations of power: for example, a recent article considers the use of woodcut images in establishing the racial paradigms associated with the very first accounts of Africa and the New World.

My second book considers the value of the prism of the 'global South' for Shakespeare studies. Looking sideways across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to nontraditional centres of Shakespeare practice, Shakespeare in the Global South: Stories of Oceans Crossed in Contemporary Adaptation explores the solidarities generated by contemporary adaptations and their stories of displacement and survival. The book takes its lead from innovative theatre practice in Mauritius, north India, post-apartheid South Africa and the diasporic urban spaces of the global North, to assess the lessons for cultural theory emerging from the new works. 

My research is also concerned with the contemporary South African archive, post-apartheid museum practice and memory culture, and non-fictional narratives testifying to the aftermath of apartheid. I have published several essays on the post-apartheid archive, on pain and subjectivity, and on memory and trauma in relation to women's prison writing under apartheid and the testimonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I am currently at work on a book manuscript titled ‘An Intimate Archive: Personal and Public Modes of Memorialisation in the Aftermath of Apartheid’.



The Early Modern Global South in Print: Textual Form and the Production of Human Difference as Knowledge. Ashgate’s special series on Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity (November 2015):

Shakespeare in the Global South: Stories of Oceans Crossed in Contemporary Adaptation. The Arden Shakespeare’s special series on Global Shakespeare Inverted (May 2019):

Peer-reviewed articles

‘Richard Hakluyt’s voyages: early modern print culture and the global reach of Englishness’. The Sixteenth Century Journal 49.4 (January 2019).

‘Shakespeare’s transcolonial solidarities in the global South’. Shakespeare Survey 71, Re-Creating Shakespeare (2018): 1-11.

‘Beyond Indigenisation: Hamlet, Haider, and the Pain of the Kashmiri People’. Shakespeare 13.3 (2017).

‘Race and the global south in early modern studies.’ Shakespeare Quarterly 67.1 (Spring 2016): 125-135. Special issue on Race.

‘The “secrets of nature” and early modern constructions of a global south’. Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 15.3 (2015): 5-39. ISSN: 1531-0485

‘Early modern geography and the construction of a knowable Africa’. Atlantic Studies: Global Currents 12.4 (2015): 412-434. ISSN: 1478-8810

‘Recognising Hamlet’. Shakespeare in Southern Africa 26 (2014): 13-26.

‘Envisioning the peoples of ‘new’ worlds: early modern woodcuts and the inscription of human difference’. English Studies in Africa 57.1 (May 2014): 33-56. Special issue on Textual Commodities of Empire.

‘Method or Madness? The Vicissitudes of “Global Shakespeare”’. Safundi 15.1 (2014): 133-137.

‘Rehearsing Trauma: The Reader as Interrogator in Prison Narratives’. Journal of Literary Studies 29.2 (May 2013): 101-116. Special issue on Mending Wounds.

‘Hospitality in a Post-Apartheid Archive: Reflections on There Was This Goat and the Challenge of Alterity’. Research in African Literatures 43.2 (Summer 2012): 115-137.

‘Imagining alterity and belonging on the English stage in an age of expansion: a reading of Othello’. Shakespeare in Southern Africa 23 (2011): 21-29. Special issue on Banishment, Xenophobia, Home and Exile in Shakespeare and the Renaissance.

‘Narrating colonial violence and representing New World difference: the possibilities of form in Thomas Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report’. Safundi 11.4 (October 2010): 343-361.

‘“Let your indulgence set me free”: reflections on an “Africanised” Tempest and its implications for critical practice’. Social Dynamics 36.2 (June 2010): 315-327.

‘Pain and the struggle for self-restoration: the prison narratives of Ruth First, Caesarina Kona Makhoere and Emma Mashinini’. English Studies in Africa: Futures of Trauma 52.1 (May 2009): 88-101.

‘Narrative and healing in the hearings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.’ Biography special issue: Personal Effects: Testimonial Uses of Life Writing 27.1 (Winter 2004): 143-159.

‘A Soliloquy “Lately Spoken at the African Theatre”: Race and the Public Sphere in New York City, 1821.’ Co-authored with Michael Warner, Natasha Hurley, Luis Iglesias, Sonia di Loreto, and Jeffrey Scraba. American Literature 73.1 (March 2001): 1-46. Winner of the Foerster Prize for the best essay published in American Literature in 2001, awarded at the MLA.

Book chapters

‘A singular world: the perils and possibilities of the bird’s eye view’ in Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination. Ed. Vin Nardizzi and Tiffany Jo Werth. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

‘Shakespeare in Africa’ in The Shakespearean World. Ed. Jill Levenson and Robert Ormsby. New York: Routledge, 2017. 116-134. (ISBN: 978-0415732529)

‘How Hamlet Became Modern’ in Relocations: Reading Culture in South Africa. Ed. Imraan Coovadia, Alexandra Dodds and Cóilín Parsons. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press, 2015. 49-64. (ISBN: 978-1-77582-079-6)

‘Shakespeare without Borders’ in South African Essays on ‘Universal’ Shakespeare. Ed. Christopher Thurman. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. 39-52. (ISBN: 978-1-4724-1576-9)


‘“Decolonising Shakespeare?” Constestations and Re-imaginings for a Post-liberation South Africa’. With Lliane Loots and Miranda Young-Jahangeer. Shakespeare in Southern Africa 30 (2017): 1-7. Special issue on Decolonising Shakespeare.


‘The strange couplings of humour and violence: Review of The Taming of the Shrew at Maynardville, 2018. Shakespeare in Southern Africa 31 (2018): 67-70.

‘On Violence and Comedy: Roy Sargeant’s Taming of the Shrew.’ Shakespeare in Southern Africa 23 (July 2011): 81-83. Special issue on Banishment, Xenophobia, Home and Exile in Shakespeare and the Renaissance.

‘Immoderate desire in an ordered universe: Marthinus Basson’s Antony and Cleopatra.’ Shakespeare in Southern Africa 22 (June 2010): 45-47.

Selected presentations

2017 Oct         Keynote speaker: ‘Moving Shakespeare’ colloquium, Wits.

2016 Aug       ‘Shakespeare’s transcolonial solidarities’. Paper presenter and convenor of a panel on ‘Shakespeare in the Global South’ at the International Shakespeare Association World Congress in Stratford and London.

2016 July        ‘Creolisation in the Indian Ocean world of The Tempest’. Shakespeare Society in Southern Africa conference, Grahamstown.

2016 April      ‘Against “indigenisation”: Hamlet in a modern idiom or, the politics of missing persons’. Indian Shakespeares on Screen conference, London.

2015 Oct         Invited speaker: ‘Oecologies in Early Modernity’ Colloquium, Vancouver.

2015 Apr        ‘Searching the “secrets of nature”: reading early modernity’s racialized imaginary’; Shakespeare Association of America (Vancouver).

2014 Oct         ‘Hamlet’s Dharma: Thinking Beyond Indigenisation in the Global South’ (UCT).

2014 Aug       ‘The “secrets of nature” and early modern constructions of a global south’. South African Society of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Stellenbosch).

2013 July        ‘Curiosity and power: lessons from the texts of the sixteenth-century Atlantic crossing’. AUETSA (Grahamstown).

2013 June      Invited speaker at WISER colloquium on Textual Commodities of Empire: ‘Visual literacy and imperialist logic: the circulation of woodcut images of “new world” peoples in the sixteenth century’ (Johannesburg).

2013 April      ‘Early modern geography and its construction of Africa for a global imaginary’; ‘Geography and Literature’ seminar at the Shakespeare Association of America conference (Toronto).

2012 Nov       Research presentation at John Carter Brown Library, Brown University: ‘Textual Form and the Visibility of Colonial Violence: Thomas Harriot’s A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia

2011 Dec        ‘Rendering Africa knowable: Leo Africanus and the shaping of “Aphrique” as an object of knowledge’ at ‘Thinking Africa and the Diaspora Differently: Theories, Practices, Imaginaries’ Workshop held at Centre for African Studies (UCT).

2011 Oct 25   Invited speaker at ‘Connected Histories’ colloquium, University of Witwatersrand.

2011 31 Aug  Discussant: ‘Negotiating wonder and taint: An Afternoon of Conversation with Stephen Greenblatt’ (Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative).

2011 25 Aug  GIPCA public lecture: ‘How Hamlet Became Modern’.

Current research project

‘An Intimate Archive: Personal and Public Modes of Memorialisation in the Aftermath of Apartheid’ (monograph in progress).

Postgraduate supervision

My postgraduate teaching includes postgraduate electives on literary responses to slavery, the Holocaust and apartheid, and the limits of expressibility, and another on contemporary Shakespeares in the Global South. I contribute to an MA core course on the literature and thought of early modernity and critical perspectives on empire, and the Honours theory core course, where we examine theories of representation, the idea of an ethical relation between self and other, and violence and visual representation. I have supervised students at Honours and MA level on research topics that include Shakespeare in post-apartheid South Africa, eighteenth-century literature and the discourses of colonialism, African and African American women’s literature, post-apartheid literary culture and archive, and the literature of trauma and witnessing. Current PhD projects include studies of representations of race, gender and sexuality in post-apartheid South Africa, an eco-critical, feminist study of contemporary African women’s fiction and a study of performance art and the collective politics of mourning.

PhD graduates

Sarah Warner on ‘Ruth Miller and the poetics of literary maternity’ (June 2013).

Megan Cawood (with Carrol Clarkson) on ‘Passing On: ‘The Weight of Memory’ and the Second Generation Fiction of Anne Michaels, W. G. Sebald and Bernhard Schlink’ (Dec 2014).

Kamil Naicker (with Meg Samuelson) on ‘Return to the scene of the crime: The returnee detective and postcolonial crime fiction’ (July 2017).

Tara Leverton (with Derrick Higginbotham) on ‘Madmen and Mad Money: Psychological Disability and Economics in Medieval and Early Modern Literature’ (June 2018).

Rosa Lyster (with Hedley Twidle) on ‘A History of Apartheid Censorship Through the Archive’ (June 2018).