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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Dr Kai Easton

BA (Gettysburg), MA, PhD (London)


Kai Easton
Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Senior Lecturer in English

Centre of African Studies


Centre for Gender Studies


Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)


English Studies at SOAS

Academic Staff

Dr Kai Easton
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4373
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Tuesday - by appointment


Kai Easton teaches colonial and postcolonial writing and convenes SOAS English, a new venture for the School, launched in 2014. She has previously taught at the universities of Sussex and Rhodes and, from 2004-06, held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship in English at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Specialising in South African fiction and non-fiction (especially the Cape and the Indian Ocean; Coetzee; Wicomb); her research interests are widely interdisciplinary and include work on cultures of travel; landscape; maritime history (both in colonial times and - in the 20th century - in relation to the voyages and wartime travels of the legendary British navigator Michael Richey); archives; intertextuality; visual cultures; auto/biography.

She was awarded a 2014-15 Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship, and her current work revisits J. M. Coetzee's archives, following their migration from Harvard and their acquisition by Texas, who now hold substantially more boxes.

Coetzee was awarded an honorary doctorate at SOAS in July 2015.

Together with Derek Attridge, she is currently editing a collection of essays, Zoë Wicomb & the Translocal: Writing Scotland & South Africa, following a series of international conferences at SOAS (2008), Stellenbosch (2010), and York (2012) that she and Attridge co-convened (with David Attwell and Meg Samuelson). Special issues from the first two conferences have been published in the Journal of Southern African Studies, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, and Current Writing. Details of the events can be found at SOAS events pages.

Kai is on the editorial boards of English in Africa and the Journal of African Cultural Studies, and a trustee of Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust. Details of the Trust’s joint MA scholarships at SOAS can be found at Canon Collins website and further information on our SOAS/Canon Collins partnership is featured on the website of the Centre of African Studies.

We are delighted to announce that our postgraduate scholarships for Canon Collins in South Africa now include the Humanities as one of three priority areas, for more information visit Canon Collins website.


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Ambra Guarnieri, Towards A Dialogical Writing Practice: Poetics and Strategies of Representation in Postcolonial Literature
  • Portia Owusu, Spectres from the Past: The Politics of 'History', Memory and Slavery in West African and African-American Literature.
  • Ying Cheng, The Dynamics of Theatre Practice in the ‘African’ Public Sphere: A Comparative Study of Nigerian and South African Drama since the 1970s
Recent PhD Students Supervised:
  • Jenny Doubt, 'Memory-Scopes: Memory Books and the Inscription of a Postcolonial AIDS 'Archive' in Post-TRC South Africa' (2008-09; now a Leverhulme doctoral scholar at the Ferguson Centre, Open University)
  • Lizzy Attree, 'The literary responses to HIV and AIDS in South Africa and Zimbabwe 1990 – 2005' (2006-2007; final year supervisor)
Recent MA Students Supervised Include:
  • Katie Whiddon, MA African Studies, 'Imagining Postcolonial Mozambique: A Literary Journey Beyond the Realms of War and "National" Trauma in Mia Couto's Works (1992-2002)
  • Marissa Alvord, MA Gender Studies, 'Engendering History: Performing Body and Text in Zoë Wicomb's David's Story'
  • Victoria Booth, MA Gender Studies, 'Plural Identities and Negotiated Spaces: Women's Conflict-Resolution Work in North-Eastern Kenya'
  • Rebecca Jones, MA African Studies, 'Lineages and Locations: Nigerian 'Third generation' Writing and the Idea of Home'
  • Alice Dyke, MA African Studies, 'The Idea of "Zanzibar": Narratives of the Post/colony'
  • Samantha Faccio, MA Comparative Literature, 'Seduction and Terror: Representation of African Dictators in Fiction, Films and Journalism'
  • Lucinda Newns, MA Comparative Literature, 'Traveling Heavy: Refugee Writing and the Discourse of Diaspora'
  • Minal Patodia, MA Comparative Literature, 'Omeros, A Post-colonial Epic: Refiguring Fragmented Caribbean History into Mythic Memory'
  • Janelle Rodriques, MA Comparative Literature, 'Discourses of Darkness: Henry Morton Stanley and the Image of Africa'
  • Emma Simpson, MA African Studies, 'The "Sister Horns" of the African Landscape' (on Zimbabwean women's memoirs)
  • Kathryn Tobin, MA African Literature, 'Literature of Conflict in Uganda: Truth, Commitment, and the Creation of a Collective Imaginary'
  • Samuel Barker, MA African Literature, 'Is Truth the Road to Reconciliation in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace?'


Gender, Travel, Cape: British Women Writing Colonial South Africa (a monograph on the travels and colonial networks of British ‘Ladies’ at the Cape, including Anne Barnard, Lucie Duff Gordon, Margaret Herschel, and Eliza Grey).  The book also discusses the prolific yet little-known Cape writer Dorothea Fairbridge, and male imperialist mapmakers such as John Barrow and William Burchell).

Travels with Mike (an extended auto/biographical project on  Michael Richey, one of the most interesting figures in the '20th-century story' (see Libby Purves: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/.../article6968938.ece) : an expert and renowned navigator, single-handed sailor, engraver, sculptor, letter-cutter, and writer who attracted - throughout his life - a fascinating circle of friends, many of whom have written autobiographies, or who have had biographies written about them (eg Eric Gill,  David Jones, Tom Burns, Graham Greene, Sir Francis Chichester).  His father, George Henry Mills Richey, served throughout the Anglo-Boer War. Mike's brother, Paul Richey, wrote the classic account Fighter Pilot in the Second World War, while his own account of his travels to Antarctica during the war were broadcast on BBC Radio's 'Third Programme', and read by Ludovic Kennedy.  He won the very first Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for Literature in 1942 for his story 'Sunk by a Mine'  (see Jimmy Burns's account in Papa Spy (Bloomsbury 2009)).  


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Available for
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
Country Expertise
  • South Africa


Edited Books or Journal Volumes

Easton, Kai and van der Vlies, Andrew, eds. (2011) Zoe Wicomb, the Cape & the Cosmopolitan. Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, special double issue. Taylor & Francis.

Attwell, David and Easton, Kai, eds. (2010) Part Special Issue: Zoe Wicomb: Texts and Histories. Journal of Southern African Studies. Vol.36 No.3.

Book Chapters

Easton, Kai (2007) 'Southern Africa.' In: McLeod, John, (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Postcolonial Studies. Routledge, pp. 129-138. (Routledge Companions)

Easton, Kai (2006) 'J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace: Reading Race/Reading Scandal.' In: Morrison, J. and Watkins, S., (eds.), Scandalous Fictions. The Twentieth-Century Novel in the Public Sphere. Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 187-205.


Easton, Kai and van der Vlies, Andrew (2011) 'Zoe Wicomb, the Cape & the Cosmopolitan: An Introduction.' Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, 12 (3-4). pp. 249-259.

Easton, Kai (2011) 'The Cape & the Cosmopolitan or Travels Around Wicomb on a Journey to the Cederberg.' Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, 12 (3-4). pp. 285-297.

Attwell, David and Easton, Kai (2010) ''Introduction', Zoe Wicomb: Texts & Histories.' Journal of Southern African Studies, 36 (3). pp. 519-521.

Easton, Kai (2007) 'Coetzee's Disgrace: Byron in Italy and the Eastern Cape c. 1820.' The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 42 (3). pp. 113-30.

Easton, Kai (2006) 'Coetzee, the Cape and the Question of History.' Scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa, 11 (1). pp. 5-21.

Easton, Kai (2004) 'Travels to the Metropolis: Cape Town, London, and J.M. Coetzee's Youth.' Moving Worlds, 4 (1). pp. 72-84.

Easton, Kai (2004) 'Linking Grahamstown to the Coetzee Legend.' Centennial (Rhodes University Centenary Magazine) . pp. 97-99.

Easton, Kai (2002) 'Travelling through History, ‘New’ South African Icons: The Narratives of Saartje Baartman and Krotoä-Eva in Zoë Wicomb’s David’s Story.' Kunapipi, 24 (1 & 2). pp. 237-250.

Easton, Kai (1995) 'Text and Hinterland: J. M. Coetzee and the South African Novel.' Journal of Southern African Studies, 21 (4). pp. 585-599.

Conference or Workshop Items

Easton, Kai (2011) Travels with Mike: from HMS Goodwill to Yacht Jester. In: Picture this: postcards and letters beyond text, Picture this: postcards and letters beyond text, 24-26 March 2011, University of Sussex. (Unpublished)

Easton, Kai (2011) Offshore from the Cape to Mauritius, 1857-1860: The Letters of Lady Barbarina Grey. In: Coastlines & Littoral Zones: The 8th Annual Literature & Ecology Colloquium, 12-14 August 2011, Kleinmond, Western Cape, South Africa. (Forthcoming)

Easton, Kai (2010) Cultures of Travel: Cape Diasporas and Zoe Wicomb's Playing in the Light. In: The Cape & the Cosmopolitan: Reading Zoe Wicomb, 8-10 April 2010, University of Stellenbosch, Dept of English. (Unpublished)

Easton, Kai (2009) "Out of Africa": Lady Margaret Herschel's Letters from the Cape, 1834-38. In: Locating African Culture, 7-8 September 2009, University of Stirling. (Unpublished)

Easton, Kai (2009) Gender, Travel, Cape: British Women Writing Colonial South Africa, 1797-1931. In: Dept of English seminar series, 16 April 2009, University of Stellenbosch, Dept of English. (Unpublished)

Easton, Kai (2007) Travelling Africa: A Woman's Trek from the Cape to Cairo. In: University of Sussex, Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies seminar, 18 April 2007, University of Sussex. (Unpublished)

Easton, Kai (2006) A quick jaunt or a great trek? Mary Hall's Travels from the Cape to Cairo. In: ASA-UK, September 2006, SOAS, University of London. (Unpublished)

Easton, Kai (2002) Letters from the Cape: Dorothea Fairbridge, Lady Lucie Duff Gordon and Lady Anne Barnard. In: Southern African Texts & Contexts Seminar, 12 November 2002, St Antony's, Oxford University. (Unpublished)

Book Reviews

Easton, Kai (2002) 'Strange tales from a bitter paradise [Review of Tatamkhulu Afrika, Bitter Eden and Etienne van Heerden, The Long Silence of Mario Salviati].' The Independent . p. 15.

Easton, Kai (2002) 'Review of Sindiwe Magona, 'Mother to Mother'.' World Literature Today, 76 (1). pp. 124-125.

Easton, Kai (2002) 'Review of Isabel Balseiro's Running Towards Us: New Writing from South Africa.' World Literature Today, 76 (1). p. 126.

Easton, Kai (2001) 'Defoe to Rilke to Oz to... [Review of J. M. Coetzee's Stranger Shores: Literary Essays, 1986-1999].' The Boston Sunday Globe, Living (Books). p. 5.

Easton, Kai (2000) 'Two South African voices for justice, reconciliation [Review of Desmond Tutu’s No Future without Forgiveness and Ahmed Kathrada’s Letters from Robben Island: A Selection of Ahmed Kathrada’s Prison Correspondence, 1964–1989, edited by Robert D. Vassen].' The Boston Sunday Globe . N3.

Easton, Kai (2000) 'Review of Chenjerai Hove, Rainbows in the Dust.' World Literature Today, 74 (2).

Easton, Kai (2000) 'Review of Achmat Dangor, Kafka's Curse: A Novel.' World Literature Today, 74 (2). p. 348.

Easton, Kai (1999) 'Review of John M. Coetzee: Passages (documentary).' SOAS Literary Review, 1 (1).

Easton, Kai (1999) 'Review of Dominic Head, J. M. Coetzee.' Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, 30 (1). pp. 183-185.

Easton, Kai (1998) 'The daring life of a radically different Afrikaner [Review of Stephen Clingman's Bram Fischer: Afrikaner Revolutionary].' The Boston Sunday Globe . C3.

Easton, Kai (1998) 'Review of Nadine Gordimer's, The House Gun.' World Literature Today, 72 (4). pp. 887-888.

Easton, Kai (1997) 'Private Lives: A detailed second volume of Doris Lessing's memoirs; an absorbing childhood memoir by J. M. Coetzee [Review of Doris Lessing's Walking in the Shade and J. M. Coetzee's Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life].' The Boston Sunday Globe . N1, N4.

Easton, Kai (1997) 'A family at the center of South Africa's salvation [Review of Gillian Slovo's Every Secret Thing].' The Boston Sunday Globe . N14.

Easton, Kai (1996) 'Review of Rosemary Jane Jolly, 'Colonization, Violence and Narration in White South African Writing: Andre Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, and J. M. Coetzee'.' Journal of Southern African Studies, 23 (4). pp. 674-675.


Easton, Kai (2000) Textuality & the Land: Reading 'White Writing' and the Fiction of J. M. Coetzee. PhD thesis. SOAS, University of London.


Easton, Kai (2014) Travelling Light: Images - via Wicomb - from the Gifberge to Glasgow. . Available from https://wicombandthetranslocal.wordpress.com/progr.... (Submitted)


Easton, Kai 'Teaching J. M. Coetzee's Foe and Disgrace: Intertextuality and the Question of Canonicity.' (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Wed Nov 25 00:30:50 2015 GMT.