Jenny du Preez is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) at Nelson Mandela University. She holds a PhD in Literary Studies in English from Rhodes University.
Her research interests include the representation of gender and sexuality, literature from Africa and the diaspora, women’s writing, and the erotic. She is also interested in the discipline of Literary Studies, its critical and transformative potential, and the university.
Her current research project, funded by the National Research Foundation, asks how Literary Studies in English might contribute to Critical University Studies in Africa. This is an exploratory project that takes as its premise that many of the questions around Critical University Studies as a field of study in South Africa are similar to those that surround Literary Studies in English because of their origins in the West. The project aims to explore the ways in which literature, writers and literary scholars have (or have not) contributed to the critical project in South Africa, and to examine whether the discipline might offer resources for enriching the field of Critical University Studies in Africa.
Her doctoral thesis was entitled “Intersectionality and Complexity in the Representation of Queer Sexualities and Genders in African Women’s Short Fiction”. Based on the argument that, post-2000, the short story form has become the primary vehicle for queer representations by African women writers, and is thus an important development in the burgeoning body of queer literature by African writers, the thesis set out to examine four significant strands in the political work these stories engage in. The chapters were structured around four main points of contention that have particular significance at the intersection of ‘queer’, ‘women’ and ‘Africa’: history, family, religion and the erotic. The thesis argued that this literary formation is marked by a feminist and anti-homophobic reparative political pragmatism.
She has taught a range of courses in Literary Studies in English and Media, Communications and Culture at Nelson Mandela University.