Monday, 23 October 2023

Fulbright English Specialist visits Education Faculty

VISIT: Prof Brenda Flanagan made an impact during her visit to the Education Faculty. VISIT: Prof Brenda Flanagan made an impact during her visit to the Education Faculty.

Prize-winning author Prof Brenda Flanagan says it was “an extraordinary delight” to complete her Fulbright Specialist term at CPUT.

Flanagan, a full professor in the Department of English at Davidson College in North Carolina in the United States, recently visited the Education Faculty as a Fulbright English Specialist.

Flanagan has served as a Cultural Ambassador for the United States Department of State since 2003 and has won several awards for fiction and drama in her home country.

Prof Hanlie Dippenaar, Assistant Dean: Faculty of Education, said the focus of the visit was to discuss the teaching of literature in the English courses which are part of the BEd undergraduate programmes in the Faculty of Education.

“This was an opportunity to share ideas and to benchmark the curriculum internationally. During her visit she presented several classes to undergraduate students on the Wellington and Mowbray campuses on relevant literature, addressing the agenda of political awareness and decolonisation. She accompanied colleagues in the Department of English to service-learning projects where Education students were tutoring at a correctional facility and at a children’s home and she gave valuable advice and insights.”

Flanagan also presented a special session to lecturers in the Faculty of Education during which she addressed the theoretical grounding of the teaching of literature, going beyond merely a reader-response theoretical framework, to include the essence of literary analysis.

She was the keynote speaker at the Literacy Day hosted by Joanne Arendse, librarian of Wellington, and her team at a local school in Wellington.

“During the last few days of her stay in South Africa, she joined CPUT colleagues and MEd students at the LITASA conference in Port Elizabeth (Gqerbeha) where she shared her ideas and joined colleagues across South Africa participating in discussions on literacy. Students and staff alike were in awe at Prof Flanagan’s energy and insight into the South African context and inherent challenges, especially regarding the teaching of English, which is often described as the language of the coloniser. Her impact will be felt for a long time to come by everyone who had the privilege to meet her.”

Flanagan said the students were engaging and the professors, including Sandra Swanepoel in the Math department, “were ones I’d like to have as forever colleagues”.

“I learned valuable lessons from the vital work professors like Cisca De Kock, Valencia Theys and Lizette De Jager are conducting in and outside their classrooms, and thanks to Joanne Arendse, I was able to visit a primary school to learn about the library’s activities and buy the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Nomalizo Mapasa provided warmth each cold day I came to campus. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Assistant Dean, Hanlie Dippenaar, who initiated the Fulbright proposal, provided great Indian food, and took me to Port Elizabeth ( Gqeberha). I wish all the students and faculty at CPUT and Mowbray every success and offer my gratitude for an unforgettable experience.”

Written by Ilse Fredericks