As we enter our tenth month of the global COVID-19 pandemic, universities have been forced to reimagine their role, mission, and functions in unexpected ways. Some of their staff have been redefined as “essential workers,” while others have moved online, taking flight from their physical locations. At the same time, generational struggles triggered for the most part before the pandemic are far from resolved. Concerns about equality of access, social justice, curriculum reform, and the transformation of sites of higher learning firmly remain on the agenda. This presentation will focus on what Nuttall calls "the redistributed university."
In this lecture, she will examine the ways in which the "redistributed university" has found expression in the context of the pandemic, to the extent of potentially reconfiguring not only the form and content of the "old university," but also the relationship between knowledge, critique, and institution. Using a deliberately speculative, literary, and dialogic form while drawing from her Africa-based, global South institutional location, she will grapple with these and other questions, including emerging forms of the public humanities in an international knowledge commons fast redefining itself.
About the Speaker
Sarah Nuttall is Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies and Director of WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Postapartheid, editor of Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics, and co-editor of many books including Negotiating the Past: The Making of Memory in South Africa; Senses of Culture; Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis and Loadshedding: Writing On and Over the Edge of South Africa.
Recent essays, among others, include "Mandela’s Mortality;" "Secrecy’s Softwares;" "Surface, Depth and the Autobiographical Act’;" "World Literature as Planetary Literature?;" and "Pluvial Time/Wet Form." She has given more than 30 keynote addresses around the world, and published more than 60 journal articles and book chapters. Her work is widely cited across many disciplines. She has taught at Yale and Duke Universities and in 2016 she was an Oppenheimer Fellow at the DuBois Institute at Harvard University. In 2020 she will be the Nelson Mandela Chair at UNAM in Mexico City. For eight years she has directed WiSER, the largest and most established Humanities Institute across the Global South.