Felicity  Wood Author of Evaluating Organization Development
FEATURED AUTHOR

Felicity Wood

Professor
University of Fort Hare

Felicity Wood is interested in the mystical, magical and ritualistic aspects of contemporary western societies. She has written a book exploring the occult aspects of contemporary higher education and free-market capitalism and has also published articles in this area. She has also conducted much research into contemporary oral narratives from Xhosa-speaking communities in her area that focus on features of the South African supernatural and the way they are shaped by socio-economic dynamics.

Biography

Felicity Wood lives in Hogsback, in the Amathole mountains in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa, with Mathew Blatchford and seven cats. She works at  the University of Fort Hare. Her particular area of research interest is the way in which contemporary western and westernised societies are steeped in aspects of mystery, mythmaking, ritual and magic, especially in economic and socio-political contexts and the present-day workplace. Her recent book explores the occult aspects of contemporary higher education and free-market capitalism, and she has also published articles in this area.
Prior to this, she spent many years conducting research into contemporary oral narratives from Xhosa-speaking communities that engage with or rework aspects of the Eastern Cape supernatural. Many of her earlier publications stem from this, including The Extraordinary Khotso: Millionaire Medicine Man of Lusikisiki. This book investigates magic as a marketable commodity, focusing on the life of an early twentieth-century South African inyanga (medicine man) and entrepreneur. However, her research is shaped by the awareness that mystical, magic beliefs and practices are by no means restricted to the African continent. Instead they lie at the heart of western societies, surrounding that within which much power is vested and to which deep significance is often attached, such as consumer capitalism and notions of the market. She explores the metaphorical parallels between these forms of contemporary enchantment and aspects of the occult in her current research, which focuses on consumerism, commodity fetishism and South African wealth-giving spirits.
The courses she teaches include creative writing, mythology, African oral literature, and African and world poetry. In the earlier part of her academic career, she and Brian Walter produced a book intended for first-year literature students, entitled Groundwork: an Introduction to Reading and Writing about Poetry and an Anthology of Poetry in English. The book was designed particularly for students in her first-year poetry courses, who do not speak English as their mother tongue. Many of them come from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and some have never studied poetry before.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Folklore, Literature, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Higher Education

Personal Interests

    Travelling, writing, walking in the mountains, spending time in the indigenous forest below our garden and buying fabric in West African markets.    

Books

Featured Title
 Featured Title - Universities and the Occult Rituals of the Corporate World - 1st Edition book cover

Articles

Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 25

Secrecy, Publicity and Power: Strategies of Occult Practitioners and University Managers


Published: Jan 01, 2015 by Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 25
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Education, Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

Various mystical, magical practices are bound up with secrecy and mystery, exerting part of their power by this means. The occult aspects of managerialism at contemporary corporatised universities, and the areas of commonality between the strategies and procedures of occult practitioners and university managers are explored.

Folklore 126 (3)

Spirits in the Marketplace: the market as a site of the occult in the South and West African supernatural and contemporary capitalist cosmologies


Published: Jan 01, 2015 by Folklore 126 (3)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

This paper explores the occult aspects of perceptions of the market in South and West Africa and in Western free-market capitalist societies.

Tydskrif 5 (1)

Kinship, Collegiality and Witchcraft: South African oral accounts of the supernatural and the occult aspects of contemporary academia


Published: Jan 01, 2014 by Tydskrif 5 (1)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

This study explores areas of commonality between certain South and West African perceptions of witchcraft and the corporatized, market-oriented university environment.

In Stephanos Stephanides and Stavros Karayanni (eds) Vernacular Worlds, Cosmopolitan  Imagination. Amsterdam. Brill.

Wealth-giving Mermaid Women and the Malign Magic of the Market: contemporary oral accounts of the South African mamlambo


Published: Jan 01, 2014 by In Stephanos Stephanides and Stavros Karayanni (eds) Vernacular Worlds, Cosmopolitan Imagination. Amsterdam. Brill.
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies

Various African occult beliefs and practices have become interconnected with aspects of capitalism. The mamlambo, a South African wealth-giving spirit, embodies this interplay between magic and market forces.

Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 23 (1)

Faustian Pacts and False Promises: the Mamlambo and the Market University


Published: Jan 01, 2013 by Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 23 (1)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Education, Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

This paper explores the metaphorical parallels between the destructive consequences of a pact with a mamlambo, a South African wealth-giving spirit, and the damage that the alliance between academia and the marketplace has inflicted on market-oriented universities.

English in Africa 37 (2)

The Shape-shifter on the Borderlands: a comparative study of the trickster figure in African orality and in the career of one South African trickster, Khotso Sethuntsa


Published: Jan 01, 2010 by English in Africa 37 (2)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

The trickster is a well-known figure in African oral literature. This study investigates the career of a real-life South African trickster, the inyanga (medicine man) Khotso Sethuntsa, comparing him to trickster figures in African orality.

Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation 28 (3)

Occult Innovations in Higher Education: corporate magic and the mysteries of managerialism


Published: Jan 01, 2010 by Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation 28 (3)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Business, Management and Accounting, Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

As universities have become corporatised and profit-oriented they have taken on occult qualities. These tendencies are analysed in the light of Jean and John Comaroffs' theory of occult economies: wealth-generating enterprises that partake of areas of mystery and magic.

Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 1

Sorcery in the Academy


Published: Jan 01, 2010 by Southern African Journal for Folklore Studies 1
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Education, Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

Corporatised, managerially governed universities have become sites of the occult. Academic jargon, procedures and power structures have acquired arcane, mysterious aspects and become steeped in ritual and enchantment.

Alternation 15 (1)

The Occult, the Erotic and Entrepreneurship: an analysis of oral accounts of ukuthwala, wealth-giving magic, sold by the medicine man Khotso Sethuntsa


Published: Jan 01, 2008 by Alternation 15 (1)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

This paper explores the way in which the economic, the erotic and the occult are combined in the practice of ukuthwala, the Xhosa term for a dangerous, powerful procedure for long-term wealth, said to involve the ownership of a wealth-giving being.

Journal of Literary Studies 21 (1/2): 68 - 92

Blood Money: an analysis of the socio-economic implications of oral narratives concerning wealth-giving snakes in the career of Khotso Sethuntsa


Published: Jan 01, 2005 by Journal of Literary Studies 21 (1/2): 68 - 92
Authors: F . Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

An analysis of oral accounts of an occult practitioner’s trade in wealth-giving magic, and the ways in which such narratives were shaped by the late twentieth South African socio-economic milieu.

Literator 5 (2) August: 45 - 62

Beyond the Walls of the Lunatic Asylum: Christopher Hope’s early fiction


Published: Aug 01, 2004 by Literator 5 (2) August: 45 - 62
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature

An analysis of Christopher Hope’s early fiction depicting South African society under apartheid, and its capacity to suggest imaginative and psychological freedoms through its comic, carnivalesque qualities.

Kronos (special issue: Eastern Cape)

Snakes, Spells, Cadillacs and Kruger Millions: an analysis of oral narratives concerning Khotso Sethuntsa


Published: Jan 11, 2004 by Kronos (special issue: Eastern Cape)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: History, Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies

The career of the millionaire medicine man Khotso Sethuntsa is explored, as are the oral narratives surrounding him with their blend of mystery, mythmaking and magic.

Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems 3 (2): 189 - 199

Wood, Felicity and Sylvia Tloti. An Interview with Ma-Ngconde, Traditional Healer and Prophetess


Published: Jan 01, 2004 by Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems 3 (2): 189 - 199
Authors: Felicity Wood and Sylvia Tloti
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci

A South African prophetess and traditional healer describes the nature of her work and how she acquired her powers.

English Academy Review 18: 21 - 37

2002. Taking Fun Seriously: the potency of play in Ivan Vladislavic's short stories


Published: Jan 01, 2002 by English Academy Review 18: 21 - 37
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature

An analysis of Ivan Vladislavic’s fiction depicting South African society in the 1980s and 1990s, and his use of comic, surrealistic techniques to convey its bizarre and unstable qualities.

English Academy Review 18: 112 - 121

An Interview with Andre Brink


Published: Jan 01, 2001 by English Academy Review 18: 112 - 121
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature

Andre Brink discusses the role of the writer in South African society after the political transition

Critical Arts 14 (2)

The Snake in the Sky: Tornadoes in Clay and Local Narrative in the Hogsback-Alice Area


Published: Jan 01, 2000 by Critical Arts 14 (2)
Authors: F. Wood
Subjects: Literature, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies

A comparative study of oral narratives concerning the inkanyamba, a tornado spirit that takes the form of a flying snake, and clay models of tornadoes from the Hogsback-Alice area, South Africa.

English Academy Review 15 December: 59 - 66

An Interview with Christopher Hope


Published: Dec 01, 1998 by English Academy Review 15 December: 59 - 66
Authors:
Subjects: Literature

The writer Christopher Hope discusses South African society before and after the political transition, and his responses, as a writer, to the South African socio-political milieu.