Charl Blignaut wins Academy Award

Christi Cloete -- Fri, 04/11/2014 - 00:00

Charl Blignaut wins Academy Award

A young historian and lecturer at the Department of History and Ancient Culture, Charl Blignaut, has won a string of awards with his master's dissertation.

His MA dissertation with the title “Mothers of the nation in the spotlight: a historical-theoretical exploration of the role of women in the Ossewa-Brandwag, 1938-1952”, under the supervision of Prof. Kobus du Pisani, was completed in 2012. He obtained the master's degree with distinction, with an average above 80%.

Du Pisani said the dissertation received glowing reports from the examiners. They pointed out that Charl followed an original and balanced approach to his research topic, demonstrated comprehensive knowledge and also a keen understanding of his subject, proved a remarkable ability to apply theory to historical research, could confidently criticise and challenge weak spots in established academics’ arguments, argued his theme systematically and logically, and displayed exquisite writing skills. They were also unanimous in their opinion that his dissertation is a pioneering text with important, even ground-breaking, findings that shed new light on the position and role of women in Afrikaner society and that it will be a standard work for future researchers in this field of study.

In his study, Charl proved that at his youthful age he already has the potential to become a brilliant scholar, and that he already engages at the highest level in his academic arguments. Du Pisani said his use of gender theory as an analytical tool for evaluating the deeper meaning of historical events, without relinquishing the narrative character of historical studies, is remarkable. The quality of his master's dissertation text was at the level of a doctoral thesis.

It was therefore not surprising that the dissertation was considered for higher praise. In 2013 Charl received the award for the best master’s dissertation that was submitted in the field of humanities at the Potchefstroom Campus in 2012. “The icing on the cake was the award by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Kuns en Wetenskap, on the recommendation of the Academy’s History Commission, of the first Protea Boekhuis Prize worth R10 000. This awarded is made every third year for the best history dissertation in Afrikaans in the preceding years. In addition, the General Christiaan de Wet Bursary, from the interest on the Christiaan de Wet Fund, was also awarded to Charl,” Du Pisani said.

The text of Charl’s dissertation is being translated from Afrikaans into English and is being edited for submission to a publisher, to publish it as a book.

Du Pisani said Charl is working on a proposal for his doctoral thesis at the NWU, and also made arrangements for further studies in Germany.