Writing South Africa

Ref: C3746930

This four week course looks at a selection of South African writers from across the 20th century. Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country written in 1948 is a social protest against the structures of a society that would later give rise to apartheid. Bessie Head focuses in her novels on the everyday lives of ordinary people and their larger roles in political African struggles. July’s People by Nadine Gordimer, written in 1981 is set in a near future where apartheid is ended by a civil war. It was banned in South Africa after its publication. We will end with Achmat Dangor’s Booker shortlisted novel Bitter Fruit set in 1998 and looking at the disintegration of a family in the years after the end of apartheid.

Course aim

This four week course looks at a selection of texts by South African writers spanning the 20th century.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Approach literary texts in a critical way and discuss my findings with fellow students.
  • View the selected texts in their socio-historical context.
  • Engage with the history and impact of apartheid in South Africa.
  • Understand the political concerns addressed by the selected authors in their writings.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Week 1: Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country Week 2: Bessie Head, When Rain Clouds Gather/Maru Week 3: Nadine Gordimer, July’s People Week 4: Achmat Dangor, Bitter Fruit

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Writing South Africa


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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