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NRF Colloquium 2005 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 March 2007 01:44
Welcome to the third workshop of the NRF research project “Literary Tourism in KZN”. Over the next 2 days we hope to have some interesting discussions about literature and tourism and even bring these two words closer together such that we can drop the ‘and’ in favour of an entirely new entity called ‘literary tourism’. However I am heartened by the words of the introduction to Mike Robinson’s book Literature and Tourism: “The study of literary tourism requires a simultaneous study of literature and tourism” (Cf. xv).


Perhaps before we begin our deliberations (mindful that not all of us are part of this research group),  it will be as well to speak briefly about the project and what we have managed to do in 2005:


This is a five year project which started in 2002, thus we are in our fourth year, It is funded by the National Research Foundation with the bulk of the funding earmarked for student bursaries. It is part of an umbrella research niche area called “Constructions of identity through cultural and heritage tourism” managed by Professor Sabine Marshall, which in turn is part of the broad NRF Focus Area called “Distinct South African Research Opportunities”. I remember when the call for proposals under this last broad banner appeared in 2001 – this was a time when there was little NRF funding for the Humanities (everything going to Science at that time) and this was the closest ‘window of opportunity’ to Humanities available. My particular cobbling together then of literature (which I knew something about) and tourism (which I knew nothing about) was expedient and showed in our early efforts to think ourselves into this new realm – the team was, and still is, comprised of three people, all from literature backgrounds:

Professor Graham Stewart from DIT

Zoe Molver, and myself from the then University of Durban-Westville now merged with the University of Natal to form the University of KwaZulu Natal.


Tourism was not something we knew much about, but we were certainly interested in literature and the possibilities of literary tourism, a very new field in South Africa then and now. We have learned as we have gone along the past four years and I, for one, certainly feel that we have progressed down the path marked ‘Literary Tourism’ and can at least now discern where it is heading. Though the project finishes at the end of 2006 as far as the NRF funding goes, there will still be much more to do in this field in this part of the world. In fact, it feels like we are really only getting into our stride!


It may interest you to hear our lofty Research Objectives from our research grant application and to reflect, as I read them, to what extent we have achieved them; and where we are headed in 2006.


Research Aims

The Research Objectives are the following

  1. To develop Literary Tourism in KZN through the development of appropriate interlinked resources on literary tourism such as a literary tourist map on a website, a literary resource guide on CD-ROM, and video films on selected literary figures and landscape.
  2. To establish international links with others interested in this field, and to network with similar projects, should they emerge, nationwide.
  3. To supervise postgraduate students in developing theses around theoretical issues in relation to literary tourism and constructions of identity as manifested through literary landscapes.
  4. To gather researchers in the field together at workshops and conferences
  5. To provide teaching aids for the study of KZN writers at high school and university level.


As you can see from the first objective we have thought it important in a field where there are very few local resources tailormade for literary tourism to develop these resources – over the next two days we will look at how far we have got with these. Here are some of the resources we have developed since 2002/3 which is when we got going.


1.) Graham Stewart is in charge of the Literary Map of KZN hosted on the Tourism KZN website. It consists of a number of author entries, each linked to a place on the map of KwaZulu Natal and accompanied by photographs/images of the writer and place with which s/he is associated in life or writing. It currently hosts about 60 entries and receives upwards of 3 000 hits a week from all around the world. It has been a wonderful resource for tourists and researchers alike and will be discussed in much more detail in Graham’s paper later.


2.) In 2005 Niall McNulty, an MA student on the project, linked the site to the map site as a more specifically ‘academic’ site with academic papers, related websites and literary trails featured. This has also attracted a fair bit of attention in the few months it has been operative.


3.) Another resource is the set of documentary films made by Zoe Molver and David Basckin, an independent filmmaker. These have been well received both academically and further afield. Generally two have been made a year since 2002 and I look forward to seeing this year’s two this afternoon. Their subjects over the years have written in various genres, come from differing backgrounds and the different ways in which Zoe and David have chosen to film them reflects this. Those films are used widely in teaching and thus also certainly fulfil Research Objective 5 to provide resources for the teaching of local literature.


4.) A new resource developed this year is the first literary trail within the project – and quite possibly one of the first in South Africa: the Rider Haggard Literary Trail compiled by Stephen Coan from the Witness newspaper in Pietermaritzburg and myself. This is intended to be the first in a series of trails devoted to writers linked to this province: I will speak more on the making of this trail tomorrow and Stephen will speak about Haggard and the Anglo-Zulu war also tomorrow.


5.) Research aim 3 is aimed at the supervision of students which has been a major objective of this project – at a postgraduate level especially and particularly those interested in issues of writers, place and identity. Most recently students are coming forward with proposals linking literature and tourism which is perhaps a mark of the increase in interest in tourism and heritage issues locally, courses in tourism now in place at the university and perhaps, in a small way, awareness of literary tourism as a research area raised by the activities of this project.


In 2006 this project has 15 students supported by grants from undergraduate third year level (4) – Nontyamtyambo Christian here today represents this level, through Honours (4) – Jared Smith is here from this group, MA (4) – Thompson Mabunda, Camille Taboza-Vaz, and Niall McNulty represent this group, and doctoral level (3) – Carol de Kock is very welcome today. In the past four years we have graduated five MA students, 8 Honours students and look forward to the first PhDs next year.


Members and supporters of the project taught the “Literary Heritage in KZN” course for the 3rd year Tourism students – this course is a teaching outreach branch of the project and has been running for three years – Betty Govinden, Darryl David, and myself taught the module in 2005.


6.) Resources in the form of publications have begun to emerge from the project – in these publications and conference papers it is evident that we have had to think through new issues related to literary tourism, especially pertinent perhaps to our designated area of KZN. Though not directly on literary tourism the first book funded in part by the project was published this year – it is on Lewis Nkosi, born and raised in this province, and a writer featured on our Literary Map. Edited by myself and Liz Gunner it contains chapters by David Basckin and Zoe Molver, Litzi Lombardozzi , a PhD student within the project working on Lewis Nkosi, and myself.


All these activities require much effort by the project tea. If there is one small sour note to be sounded, it is that in an increasingly bureaucratic age leaders of such projects are required by the NRF to become ‘managers’ with very little infrastructural support yet many demands. So all the above would be impossible were it not for the dedication of my collaborators Graham Stewart, and Zoe Molver together with David Basckin. A new addition to the team this year has been a research assistant, Lea Ann Subroyen, a 2004 MA graduate from the project who unfortunately couldn’t be here today – Lea Ann edited the 2003 colloquium papers, helps compile entries for the Literary Map and helped arrange this colloquium. My great thanks to you all. Thanks also to those who have supported the project through teaching on the Literary Heritage in KZN course offered to tourism students at the university (Darryl David and Betty Govinden) and those who have come to our seminars and meetings (Stephen Coan and Pat Louw).


With this in mind I would like to turn to our first guest speaker Professor Mike Robinson whom I met last year at a conference on tourism which he hosted in England. As my preliminary remarks noted, the project began with major strengths in literature but not in tourism; how to pull these two areas together to make a field of literary tourism has required a broadening of our reading and thinking. We are therefore delighted to have Mike here today as he is particularly interested in this interaction of literature and tourism, and indeed the author of a book of the same name.


To introduce Professor Robinson to you let me add that he is Professor of Tourism and Director of the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. His PhD is in Political Science from the University of East Anglia where he also taught. His general research interests lie in the dynamic relationships between tourism and forms of cultural expression and one of his particular interests is the representation of tourism in fictive texts. He is editor of eleven books on tourism’s inter-relationships with the cultural domain and has organised numerous international conferences on such themes. Mike is founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, and on the board of at least 3 other international journals. He is Series Editor of the book series Tourism and Cultural Change. Mike founded and is a member of the research committee of the International Festivals and Events Association of Europe.


Today he will speak to us on the topic of “Making It Real – transforming texts for tourism”. Welcome Mike to Durban and to this gathering!


Lindy Stiebel