Professor Phil van Schalkwyk delivered his inaugural lecture, titled: Die lewende verlede van die letterkunde (Literature’s living past).
His lecture focused on carrying out an exploration of the human relationship with the past, specifically in a literary-artistic context. In the background of this lies an anti-patriarchal discourse in which he participated in his own research, with specific focus on the novels of Eben Venter.
He attempted a conciliatory move with respect to the self and the other in the wake of Venter’s recent novel, Green as the sky is blue.
Prof Dumi Moyo, executive dean of the Faculty of Humanities, gave the welcoming address. He said that it was a proud moment for the faculty to host Prof Phil’s inaugural lecture.
He also emphasised that it was a momentous occasion in someone’s career and a necessary rite of passage where one gets the opportunity to profess their knowledge and share the discoveries on their journey with both the academic and the non-academic community.
Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for Teaching and Learning, presented Prof Van Schalkwyk with a certificate and offered a word of congratulations.
In his response, Prof Balfour highlighted that Prof Phil’s development was also the development of the faculty – a large and complex faculty ranging across a multiplicity of disciplines, from the literary to the sociological, from fine arts and history right through to governance and public administration.
He also added that valuable resources such as time and opportunity were invested in each academic’s development in a way that enabled them to specialise in a broad complexity of fields and multidisciplinary work.
He expressed his gratitude towards the leadership of the faculty who were gathered at the lecture and those who had joined virtually in support of Prof Phil.
Prof CA Breed, deputy chair of the subject group Afrikaans and Dutch, thanked Prof Phil on behalf of the faculty. She emphasised how he was always willing to assist in any way possible.
“You are a mentor and a friend and we want to congratulate you on this milestone. The faculty is very proud of you,” she said.
She also thanked everyone who had attended physically and virtually.
About Prof Van Schalkwyk
Prof Van Schalkwyk completed an MA in Afrikaans and Dutch Literature, cum laude, at the then Potchefstroom University for CHE under the supervision of Prof Heilna du Plooy, with Professors Jacques van der Elst and Wannie Carstens as co-supervisors. In 2004, he obtained a PhD in General Theory of Literature at the North-West University (NWU) with Prof Hein Viljoen as his promoter.
The research for both his MA and PhD included stays abroad with the aid of bursaries from the Dutch Language Union, respectively in Antwerp, Belgium (1996–1997), and Leyden, the Netherlands (2000), where Prof Eep Francken was his mentor. From September 2001 until March 2006 he was a senior lecturer at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland), where he taught several modules in the programme South African Studies, established by Prof Jerzy Koch.
He returned to the NWU in April 2006, and in 2008 he was appointed in the subject group Afrikaans and Dutch in the School of Languages. He teaches Afrikaans and Dutch Literature and Literary Theory.
Prof Van Schalkwyk first obtained an NRF rating in 2014, and in 2019 his rating was successfully renewed (C2). In the same year, he was awarded the South African Academy’s Esther Greeff prize for a Journal of Humanities article (2017) in which he re-evaluated the novel Wolf, wolf in the context of Eben Venter’s oeuvre.
Prof Van Schalkwyk has been promoter and supervisor at the NWU for several successful postgraduate studies relating to his field of expertise, and he has also shown versatility through collaborative postgraduate supervision in Creative Writing, History of Art and English. One of his students, Janien Linde, was awarded the Marius Jooste medal for her MA dissertation (cum laude) in 2014.
He is the author of reviews of creative work, a reviewer for several journals, external examiner of postgraduate research (also internationally) and external moderator, and has acted as DHET reviewer for creative outputs and as adjudicator for NRF rating applications.
From 2017 until the present he has been co-editor-in-chief of Literator. He serves on the editorial board of Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies. In 2018 and 2019, he was the acting director of the Research Unit Languages and Literature in the South African Context, and in June 2021 he was appointed as director of this entity for a five-year term.
Click here to view the inaugural lecture.