Drawing the Line with Professor Carrol Clarkson

24 Feb 2015 - 11:45

In Drawing the Line (2013), as one reviewer has said of Professors Carrol Clarkson’s new book, "One rarely comes across work of such intelligence and imagination” [read more]

Drawing the Line:

Professor Clarkson has been a vital part of the UCT English Department for the last decade. Not only an energetic and extremely knowledgeable lecturer, but also a prolific academic contributor. Professor Clarkson is a much loved and respected part of the department among students and peers alike.

In her latest book, Drawing the Line: Towards an Aesthetic of Transitional Justice (2013), Professor Clarkson examines the ways in which cultural, political, and legal lines are imagined, drawn, crossed, erased, and redrawn in post-apartheid South Africa through literary texts, artworks, and other forms of cultural production.

Under the rubric of a philosophy of the limit and with reference to a range of signifying acts and events, this book asks what it takes to recalibrate a sociopolitical scene, shifting perceptions of what counts and what matters, of what can be seen and heard, of what can be valued or regarded as meaningful.

The book thus argues for an aesthetics of transitional justice and makes an appeal for a post-apartheid aesthetic inquiry, as opposed to simply a political or a legal one. Each chapter brings a South African artwork, text, speech, building, or social encounter into conversation with debates in critical theory and continental philosophy, asking: What challenge do these South African acts of signification and resignification pose to current literary-philosophical debates?

Attracting a throng of favourable reviews, Professor Clarkson’s intelligent, engaging and beautifully articulated new book has been well accepted and appreciated in the literary spheres, as a truly valuable addition to her body of work.

To get hold of Professor Clarkson’s wonderful new book, staff and students have access to Drawing the Line available through the University of Cape Town’s Main Library and African Studies Collection. Alternatively, the book is available for purchase from major bookstores and online retailers.

Carrol Clarkson

To find out more about Drawing the Line, you can follow this link to a very interesting article about Professor Clarkson’s UCT Inaugural Speech, which focusses specifically on her newest work.

As a proud associate of UCT’s English department, it is always pleasing to share optimistic editorial reviews, as seen below, which truly appreciate the work our academics:


"What makes Clarkson's project truly dialogical--and what distinguishes it from a number of other analyses of contemporary South African culture and literature--is that she both reads South African culture in terms of theory but also examines and, indeed displays, what South African culture might also offer theory."

-Russell Samolsky, University of California, Santa Barbara 

"One rarely comes across work of such intelligence and imagination. This book is beautifully written and one finds oneself forever being caught out by wonderful and unpredicted connections, turns of phrase, the ease and acuity with which insights from disparate fields are brought together and developed."

-Emilios Christodoulidis, University of Glasgow