Call for papers: "Feminisms and South African literatures" (Guest editor: Marni Bonthuys)


Approaches to feminism(s) have been varied within the literatures of different South African languages and cultures.

Historically feminism has not been a prominent focus in Afrikaans literature (Marais; Viljoen; De Jong and Murray; Bonthuys). Recently black feminism, embedded in the work of the numerous black women debuts in Afrikaans literature seen in the last decade or two, has been the focus of various studies. Several postgraduate theses and dissertations (Ess, Apollis, Kidelo) have been completed or are currently being completed on this topic. Black women were historically marginalised and absent in Afrikaans literature (Chaudhari; Cochrane). Only in the late nineties, the first black women (notably E. K. M. Dido and Diana Ferrus) started to publish Afrikaans literature. From the outset, these authors wrote authoritatively about the position of women in South Africa and explored the intersectional challenges especially black women face. In recent literary texts by black Afrikaans women, this approach is also very evident (Vermeulen; Ess and Bonthuys; Ess; Apollis). Literature by white Afrikaans women authors has lately shown an increased consciousness of intersectional feminism(s).

The feminist tradition in English South African writing is arguably more established (Lockett) than in Afrikaans. In the last few years, notable publications on black South African feminist writing by authors such as Boswell as well as Lewis and Baderoon came to prominence. Black feminisms have also been marginalised in the English-speaking tradition, however. With regard to other South African languages, the recent isiXhosa poetry publications Unam wena (Mthunzikazi A. Mbungwana) and Ilifa (Athambile Masola) can be read as recent iterations of black feminisms.

When the shockingly high rates of gender violence against South African women of all races, cultures and classes are considered, it seems obvious that feminist perspectives should be explored in all South African literatures. Few comparative studies on this topic in South African literatures have however been published. The trend of an increased voicing of intersectional and black feminist perspectives can also be seen in other world literatures (such as Dutch—see Kidelo) where they were traditionally absent. This likely points to the growing role that social media and so-called hashtag-feminisms play in cultures worldwide (Dixon) as well as the rise of Spoken Word (Gons).

With this issue, the aim is to focus on feminism(s) within all South African literatures. The focus could be comparativewith regard to different South African languages/literatures or only on one of the South African languages/literatures. Comparisons between South African literatures and certain transnational trends could also be explored.

We, therefore, invite any article which engages with the broad theme of Feminisms and South African literatures. Possible topics include:

  • Comparative research focussed on feminisms in South African literatures.
  • Recent feminist developments within South African literatures.
  • The influence of feminist trailblazers in South African literatures on a new generation of women authors.
  • The position of women authors within South African literary system(s)/field(s).
  • South African feminist voices from a transnational perspective.
  • Marginalised South African feminist voices from the past.
  • Black, intersectional, postcolonial feminist voices in South African literatures.
  • Queer feminisms in South African literatures.
  • Working class feminisms in South African literatures.
  • Eco-feminism in South African literatures.
  • Comparative research into white and black feminisms in South African literatures.
  • Feminisms in different genres such as prose, poetry, YA fiction, romance fiction and crime fiction (with a focus on South African literatures).
  • The representation of women (heterosexual, gay and/or trans) in South African literatures.
  • The representation of gender violence in South African literatures.
  • The representation of mothering in South African literatures.
  • The role of new forms of literary engagement such as social media and spoken word performances in a South African context from a feminist perspective.

The issue prioritises original research articles but we invite the submission of essays, review articles and interviews.

Research articles of no more than 7 500 words, including notes and works cited, in Afrikaans, Dutch or English, are invited for submission by 30 April 2023. All submissions must follow the MLA 8th edition citation guidelines. Authors must also ensure that their submissions adhere to all the requirements listed in the author guidelines of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde.

Please submit for consideration an abstract of 200-250 words by 15 December 2022 to Your abstract should be accompanied by a cover letter indicating your name, institutional affiliation, full contact details, and a brief biography. If your abstract is accepted, please submit your anonymised article at

For full TL author guidelines, please read the section below, and visit the website: Please note that authors affiliated with a South African university will be charged page fees (a flat rate of R10 000). Tydskrif vir Letterkunde is part of the Web of Science core collection and is indexed by Scopus and the Directory of Open Access Journals (SOAJ), among other indexes.

Editor biography: Dr. Marni Bonthuys is a senior lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of the Western Cape. She is also affiliated with the Centre for Afrikaans and the Study of South Africa, University Ghent and the editor of the accredited academic journal Tydskrif vir Nederlands en Afrikaans. Her research focuses on Afrikaans and Dutch poetry and themes such as canonization, identity and place, as well as feminist writing.

Works cited

Apollis, Teneal. ʼn Analise van die moeder-dogter-verhouding in geselekteerde werke van swart Afrikaanse vrouedigters.” MA thesis. U Western Cape, 2021.

Bonthuys, Marni. “Postkoloniale feminisme in die Afrikaanse poësie: Die debute van Ronelda S. Kamfer, Shirmoney Rhode en Jolyn Phillips.” LitNet Akademies, vol. 17, nr. 1, 2020, pp. 241–61.

Boswell, Barbara. And Wrote My Story Anyway: Black South African women’s novels as feminism. Wits U P, 2020.

Chaudhari, Shamiega. “Die rebellie van die slavin: ’n’n African womanist-perspektief op die stiltes van die slavin in geselekteerde Afrikaanse tekste.” Diss. U Fort Hare, 2015.

Cochrane, Neil. “Die swart Afrikaanse vroueskrywer (1995–2007): Nog steeds ’n literêre minderheid binne ’n demokratiese bestel.” Acta Academica vol. 40, no. 1, 2008, pp. 31–51.

De Jong, Marianne & Jessica Murray. “Feminisme.” Literêre terme en teorieë. 2017.

Dixon, Kitsy. “Feminist online identity: Analyzing the presence of hashtag feminism.” Journal of Arts and Humanitiesvol. 3, no. 7, 2014, pp. 34–40.

Ess, Courtney. “’n Interseksionele lees van Bettina Wyngaard se misdaadtrilogie.” MA thesis. U Western Cape, 2021.

Ess, Courtney & Marni Bonthuys. “Die representasie van die interseksionele vroulike subjek in Vuilspel deur Bettina Wyngaard.” Tydskrif vir Nederlands en Afrikaans vol. 27, no. 1, 2020, pp. 51–73.

Gons, Babs. Hardop. Spoken Word in Nederland. Atlas Contact, 2019.

Kidelo, Tenita Z. “Swart feminisme in Afrikaanse en Nederlandse poësie met betrekking tot die werke van Ronelda Kamfer en Simone Atangana Bekono: ’n Vergelykende studie.” MA thesis. U Western Cape, 2021.

Lewis, Desiree & Gabeba Baderoon (eds.). Surfacing. On being black and feminist in South Africa. Wits U P, 2021.

Lockett, Cecily. “Feminism(s) and writing in English in South Africa.” Current Writing, vol. 2, no. 1, 1990, pp. 1–21. DOI:

Marais, Renée. “Vrouwees: Perspektiewe in die meer onlangse Afrikaanse poësie en prosa.” Literator vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 29–43. DOI:

Vermeulen, Dalene. “’n Ondersoek na Ronelda Kamfer se poësie aan die hand van bell hooks se filosofie oor ras en taal.” MA thesis. Stellenbosch U, 2018.

Viljoen, Louise. “Antjie Krog en haar literêre moeders: Die werking van ’n vroulike tradisie in die Afrikaanse poësie.” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, vol. 44, no. 2, 2007, pp. 5–28. DOI: