Dr Aretha Phiri

Dr Aretha Phiri

Dr Aretha Phiri

Senior Lecturer

BA (Hons) Rhodes, MA (Rhodes), PhD (Edinburgh)

email address: A.Phiri@ru.ac.za


Teaching and Research Interests

American and African-American literature, South African post-apartheid literature, Afrodiasporic and transnational literature, realist and modernist fiction, poetry

My research broadly interrogates intersectional interactions of race, ethnicity, culture, gender and sexuality/ies in comparative, transatlantic and transnational, considerations of identity and subjectivity, with a particular focus on American, African-American, Afro-diasporic, and Afro-Scottish literature.


Selected Publications

Book Chapters


2020: “Fingering the Jagged Grain: Rereading Afropolitanism (and Africa) in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go.” Afropolitan Literature as World Literature. Ed. James Hodapp. London: Bloomsbury. 151-166.

2020: “Transgressing Borders: (Re)imagining Africa(ns) in the World.” African Philosophical and Literary Possibilities: Re-reading the Canon. Ed. Aretha Phiri. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. (in press; accepted for publication)

2020: “Tracing the (In)visible Man: Ralph Ellison’s Legacy to South Africa.Global Ralph Ellison: Transnational Aesthetics and Politics. Eds. Marc Conner and Tessa Roynon. Peter Lang publishers (in press: accepted for publication)

2019: “‘Lost in Translation’: Re-reading the Contemporary Afrodiasporic Condition in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go.” Debating the Afropolitan. Eds. Emilia María Durán-Almarza, Ananya Jahanara Kabir, and Carla Rodríguez González. London: Routledge. 38-52.

2014: “Dis(re)membering Bodies: Disability and Self-Constitution in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Octavia Butler’s Kindred” (with Maja Milatovic). Assembling Identities. Ed. Sam Wiseman. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2014. 131-143.

2014: “Intimate Subject(ivitie)s: Race, Gender and Violence in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” Critical Insights: Violence in Literature. Ed. Stacey Peebles. Salem Press, 2014. 136-152.


Journal Articles

2020: “The Race for Reparation(s), the (Im)possibility of Repair in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Antjie Krog’s Country of my Skull.Safundi 21 (1): 69-84.

2020: “Machineries of Blackness, Technologies of Race in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.Contemporary Women’s Writing journal Special Issue: Global Morrison (in press; accepted for publication)

2018: “Black, White and Everything in-between: Unravelling the Times with Zoë Wicomb.” English in Africa 45 (2): 117-128. 

2017: “‘Lost in Translation’: Re-reading the Contemporary Afrodiasporic Condition in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go.” Thematic Issue: Debating the Afropolitan.” European Journal of English Studies 21 (2): 144-158.

2017: “Expanding Black Subjectivities in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.” Cultural Studies 31 (1): 121-142.

2015: “Queer Subjectivities in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘On Monday of Last Week’ and J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.Agenda 103/ 29 (1): 155-163.

2013: “Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut and the Dialectics of Race in South Africa: Interrogating Images of Whiteness and Blackness in Black Literature and Culture.” Safundi, 14 (2): 161-174.

2011: “Searching for the Ghost in the Machine: The ‘Africanist’ presence in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” English Studies in Africa journal, 54 (1): 88-104.


Academic engagements/portfolios

English 1, 3 and Honours Paper Coordinator

Rhodes Plagiarism Committee

Humanities Faculty Research Committee


Institutional/Professional Activities

Advisory Board Transnational Literature Journal

Women’s Academic Solidarity Association (WASA)

African Feminist Initiative (AFI), Penn State University

British Association for Americn Studies


Research Affiliations 

NRF Y-1 rated researcher

Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) Fellow (2017-2019)

Rhodes African “Multiple Clusters” Studies Centre – Project Participant (Literature, Languages and Music)


Public Engagements/Fora:

2019: https://theconversation.com/how-toni-morrisons-legacy-plays-out-in-south-africas-universities-121755

2016: https://theconversation.com/literature-by-africans-in-the-diaspora-can-help-create-alternative-narratives-60941

2010: Part of the ‘Reading Africa’ Initiative, supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, SA, and concerned with promoting reading of African literature by young learners, particularly in the Eastern Cape.

Last Modified: Thu, 27 Feb 2020 20:59:43 SAST