1st Edition

Print Culture in Southern Africa

    210 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    210 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Print Culture in Southern Africa is concerned with the institutions and processes informing textual production, circulation and consumption in the region, over a broad historical period from the late 18th century to the present day. The book is organised around three closely related themes. Firstly, it presents original research into the formation of reading publics and the impact of reading cultures, by uncovering obscure but important reading communities and circuits of book distribution and reception. A second theme is the relationship between print and politics, with a particular focus on the networks of power: how control over the production and circulation of printed books has shaped literary and cultural development. The third theme is transnational print culture, and how the control exercised by publishers in Europe and America has shaped literature and society in southern Africa.

    Drawing together interdisciplinary research and diverse methodologies, the collection encompasses a range of perspectives, including literary studies, anthropology, publishing studies, the history of the book and art history, and many of the chapters are based on previously unexamined archives and collections. The volume contributes to current debates and opens up new and exciting ways of furthering the study of postcolonial literature and African book history.

    The chapters included in this book were originally published in the Journal of Southern African Studies.


    Caroline Davis, Archie Dick and Elizabeth le Roux

    Reading Communities and Circuits

    1. Reading Authors of the Enlightenment at the Cape of Good Hope from the Late 1780s to the Early 1830s

    Archie L. Dick

    2. The Black House’, or How the Zulus Became Jews

    Hlonipha Mokoena

    Transnational Publishing Histories

    3. Setting Trans-Vaal Scenes in German Type: Missionary Carl Hoffmann’s Book Designs, ca. 1900–1930

    Lize Kriel

    4. History by Paratext: Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka

    Corinne Sandwith

    5. A Question of Power: Bessie Head and her Publishers

    Caroline Davis

    6. Minding Their Own Business: Penguin in Southern Africa

    Alistair McCleery

    Print, Publishing and Politics

    7. ‘To See Us as We See Ourselves’: John Tengo Jabavu and the Politics of the Black Periodical

    Khwezi Mkhize

    8. What ‘Other Devils’? The Texts of Sol T. Plaatje’s Mhudi Revisited

    Brian Willan

    9. Miriam Tlali and Ravan Press: Politics and Power in Literary Publishing during the Apartheid Period

    Elizabeth Le Roux

    10. Anatomy of the Challenges Facing Zambian Writers and Publishers of Literary Works

    Cheela Himutwe K. Chilala


    Caroline Davis is Associate Professor in Publishing at University College London. She is the author of African Literature and the CIA: Networks of Authorship and Publishing (2020), Creating Postcolonial Literature: African Writers and British Publishers (2013) and the co-editor of The Book in Africa: Critical Debates (2015).

    Archie L. Dick is Professor in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria. He previously taught at the University of the Western Cape and the University of South Africa. He is the author of several books, including Reading Spaces in South Africa, 1850–1920s (2020) and The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures (2013).

    Elizabeth le Roux is Associate Professor and the coordinator of Publishing Studies in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria. She is co-editor of the journal Book History and is the author of Publishing Against Apartheid South Africa: A Case Study of Ravan Press (2020) and A Social History of the University Presses in Apartheid South Africa (2016).

    Dennis Walder is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the Open University. He is a co-editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies, and the author of numerous publications on modern and postcolonial literatures, including Postcolonial Nostalgias: Writing, Representation and Memory (2013).