[skip to content]

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Miss Danielle Faye Tran

BA in English Literature (Royal Holloway, University of London); MA in Literatures of Modernity (Royal Holloway, University of London)


Danielle Faye Tran
Miss Danielle Faye Tran
Email address:
Thesis title:
Post-TRC Traumatic Narratives: South Africa’s Literary Recovery
Year of Study:
Started October 2010
Internal Supervisors


I am currently a third year PhD student studying for a PhD in African Languages and Cultures in the Africa Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

I have successfully completed all modules (1-6) of the GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) course at SOAS and I am working as an Academic English Tutor at SOAS within the ADD department. I will be a GTA for the 'History in African and Caribbean Literature' course for term 1 2013/14.

I am the Administrative/Research Assistant for the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS. I am also the Administrative Assistant for the Marie Curie funded project Diaspora Constructions of Home and Belonging' (CoHab) at SOAS.

PhD Research

My thesis expands the focus of trauma studies by examining post-TRC South African writing through trauma theory. I question the instability of the term ‘trauma’ and underline the importance of stressing the specific context of a trauma in an effort to prevent the trauma of apartheid from being subsumed into generalised modes of trauma theory. My chapters focus on a range of contemporary social issues in South Africa including rape and AIDS. By examining the literary representations of trauma and questioning any partial closure within my selected writings, I consider how authors may use the structure of their texts to resolve trauma through the creation of neat endings. Through engaging with recent South African fiction in the larger context of works filmed and performed during the transition and post-TRC – I thus assess the extent to which these post-apartheid texts help to reconcile a country wounded by its previous apartheid government. Alongside an analysis of canonical texts such as J.M. Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’ and Zoë Wicomb’s ‘David’s Story’, I explore South Africa’s post-apartheid cultural production by referencing other relevant sources including the Truth in Translation project, which explores the trauma experienced by the translators at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. By grappling with the notion that language lacks the capability to discuss the unspeakability of trauma, my thesis considers  how the trauma of apartheid poses questions for South Africans today in relation to identity and coming to terms with their past. Furthermore, by contemplating how the country’s traumatic past continues to influence the social dynamics of South African society, my research holds both academic and social importance. As Cathy Caruth comments, ‘trauma itself may provide the very link between cultures: not as a simple understanding of the pasts of others, but rather, within the traumas of contemporary history, as our ability to listen through the departures we have all taken from ourselves’.

PhD Conferences

Selected Paper Presentations
  • ‘Travelling Africa & The Archive postgraduate conference’. 'The Problematic Museum Archive: District 6 and Robben Island as Sites of Trauma?' led by the Africa Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 7-8th June 2013. (I will also act as a co-convener for this conference/workshop).
  • 'Challenging Eurocentric Models Of Trauma Theory: Re-theorizing Notions of "Trauma" Within A Specific Non-western Culture', The 13th European Congress of Psychology 2013, July 11th 2013, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Reading College, 'A Seminar on Disgrace: The Issue of Truth and Storytelling', 22nd November 2012 (9-1pm).
  • (Selected Paper Presentation: International Conference) ‘AIDS as the Venereal Embodiment of Post-apartheid Trauma’, ICP 2012, 22-27 July 2012, 30th International Congress of Psychology Conference held in Cape Town South Africa
  • 'Appropriating the Metropolis in Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners', Literary London Conference, Hosted by the Institute of English Studies (University of London), 20-22 July 2011.
  • ‘Movement and Stasis in the works of T.S. Eliot’, Goldsmiths University Postgraduate Conference ‘Paradox’, 26th June 2010.
  •  ‘Post –War Trauma in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land’, ‘Middlesex Postgraduate Conference, ‘Psychoanalysis Conference’, 5th June 2010.
  • ‘Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Conflict’, University of Stirling Postgraduate Conference, ‘Transgression and its Limits’, 29-30th May 2010
  • ‘Personal Territory in J.M. Coetzee’s The Life and Times of Michael K’, The University of Leicester Postgraduate Conference ‘My Territory’, April 24th 2010
  • ‘Negotiating Identity in Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy’, The University of Kent Postcolonial Research Seminar, December 9th 2010.


I am a member of the Centre of African Studies, Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS) , The London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the Centre for Literature and Trauma (LITRA).