First published on http://www.ru.ac.za in May 2012
For over 25 years, millions of people all over the world have been inspired and transformed by TED Talks, made available for free online via TED.com. This has inspired communities and individuals all around the world to do the same, organising independent events called TEDx ‒ Technology, Entertainment and Design ‒ with the x signifying that the event is independently organised.
The beautifully desolate, frozen landscape of the polar regions has fascinated many people for centuries.
Prize-winning writer and activist Jean McNeil gave us a rare glimpse into what she calls “the oracle at the end of the world”‒ the Antarctic, by presenting a talk the English department last week.
A senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, McNeil is a visiting scholar of the Mellon Foundation and the University of the Western Cape, where she teaches creative writing for part of the year. “Wild Places – Imaginative Writing and the Environment” discussed the experience of writing fiction, narrative non-fiction and poetry with wild places as the primary inspiration and idea driving creative work.
Politics Masters student, Danielle Bowler, wrote a paper exploring contested constructions of colouredness, after being incensed by a column written by Nomakula “Kuli” Roberts in a Sunday paper. She describes how this is similar to what Frantz Fanon referred to when he said he wrote Black Skin, White Masks after “the fire had cooled”.
“I need to be able to engage with people who live with and are of the word,” says Lesego Rampolokeng. A self-confessed wanderer, the internationally acclaimed writer, iconoclast and wordsmith is spending three months as a writer-in-residency at Rhodes University as a recipient of the Andrew H. Mellon Foundation fellowship. In his inimitable ironic style, he says: “I’m a glorified vagabond. I carry my roots on my head, hence the dreadlocks,” referring to his trademark hair. “If I cut them, I’m done.”
Rampolokeng has been working with the Masters in Creative Writing students, creating his own work and collaborating with the English and Drama departments. The Mellon writer-in-residency is sponsored by the Rhodes research office and the selection of the Mellon fellow is made by the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) board, motivated by recommendations from the 14 writers who teach on the MA programme.