Reading from the South
This set of essays analyses the work of Isabel Hofmeyr, globally recognised as one of South Africa’s foremost literary and Indian Ocean scholars. The essays elucidate Hofmeyr’s path-breaking studies of transnational histories of the book, African print cultures, and cultural circulations in the Indian Ocean world.
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This book draws together reflective and analytical essays by renowned intellectuals from around the world who critically engage with the work of one of the global South’s leading scholars of African print cultures and the oceanic humanities. Isabel Hofmeyr’s scholarship spans more than four decades, and its sustained and long-term influence on her discipline and beyond is formidable.
While much of the history of print cultures has been written primarily from the North, Isabel Hofmeyr is one of the leading thinkers producing new knowledge in this area from Africa, the Indian Ocean world and the global South. Her major contribution encompasses the history of the book as well as shorter textual forms and abridged iterations of canonical works such as John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. She has done pioneering research on the ways in which such printed matter moves across the globe, focusing on intra-African trajectories and circulations as well as movements across land and sea, port and shore. The essays gathered here are written in a blend of intellectual and personal modes, and mostly by scholars of Indian and African descent. Via their engagement with Hofmeyr’s path-breaking work, the essays in turn elaborate and contribute to studies of print culture as well as critical oceanic studies, consolidating their findings from the point of view of global South historical contexts and textual practices.