Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand

Isabel's research interests include post-colonialism; African literature; Southern African literary studies; oral history and literature; John Bunyan; seventeenth century studies; textual trans-nationalism; Africa-India interactions; Indian Ocean studies; histories of the book and print culture; and histories of reading and writing. Her current work focuses on Africa and its intellectual trajectories in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

More recently she has explored textual circulation in the Global South with a focus on the Indian Ocean. Her work addresses questions of Africa’s intellectual place in the world and the material and aesthetic history of texts and their transnational circulation. Hofmeyr has served as Acting Director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, which she helped to establish. She has held fellowships in various parts of the world; and sits on numerous editorial boards.

Her publications include:
Hofmeyr, I. (2004) The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of The Pilgrim's Progress. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hofmeyr, I. (1994) We Spend our Years as a Tale that is Told: Oral Historical Narrative in a South African Chiefdom. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Hofmeyr, I., Gupta, P, and Pearson, M. (2010) Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean, Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2010.

Hofmeyr, I. & Williams, M. (2011) South Africa and India: Shaping the Global South. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Hofmeyr, I. & Kaarsholm, P. (Eds) (2011) Special edition of Africa (81 1 2011) entitled ‘Print Culture, Nationalisms and Public Spheres in the Indian Ocean’.

Hofmeyr, I. (2011) "Violent Texts, Vulnerable Readers: Hind Swaraj and its South African Audiences". Public Culture, 23 (2): 285-97.

Hofmeyr, I. (2010) "Universalising the Indian Ocean". PMLA, 125 (3): 721-29.

Hofmeyr, I., Kaarsholm, P and Frederiksen, F.B. (2011) "Print Cultures, Nationalisms and Public Spheres in the Indian Ocean" Africa 81 (1): 1-22.

Isabel holds a B Journ 1974 (Rhodes); BA Hons 1976 (Wits); MA 1980 (Wits); MA 1983 (London); PhD 1992 (Wits).


  • –present
    Professor of African Literature , University of the Witwatersrand

Grants and Contracts

  • 2018
    Professor of African Literature
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation