SOAS University of London

Centre for English Studies, School of Arts

Dr Kai Easton

BA (Gettysburg), MA, PhD (London)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Kai Easton
Centre for English Studies

Chair, Senior Lecturer in English

Centre of African Studies

Management Committee Member

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:
Academic Support Hours:
By email appointment


Following doctoral studies at SOAS, she taught at the universities of Sussex and Rhodes; from 2004-06, she held an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellowship in English at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Kai serves on the board of Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust.  She is a convenor of the Southern African Studies Seminar, University of London, and a member of the Academic Steering Committee for the new CHASE postgraduate journal, Brief Encounters.  She is a recipient of research fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (2014-15; 2018-19), and her current project is ‘Coetzee & the South’.


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Annwen E Bates, (The Buchu Edit: Representations of Africa and residues of empire in the wellness and wellbeing industry with special reference to the Cape of Good Hope)
  • Gromyko Dumuje, Fragmented Memory In an Invented Land: The Absence of History in the Abacha Dictatorship of Nigeria
  • Helena Cantone, Decolonising the Visual Archive of Salvatore Fiume (1915-1997): Italian Encounters with Postcolonial Africa
  • Katarzyna Kubin, Affects of Shame: Questions of Authorial Ethics in Contemporary Postcolonial Writing and Film
  • Sana Goyal, “Awarding Africa” from the Caine to the Commonwealth: First Books, First Prizes, & Women Writers
  • Atuki Turner, Literary Activism and the Story of Price of a Woman, Goldsmiths, University of London (practice-based thesis in creative writing. Atuki is being supervised by Blake Morrison; Kai is contributing as critical supervisor (the thesis has two components: 70% = a novel; 30% = critical commentary). See Atuki's profile here.
Recent PhD Students Supervised:
  • Portia Owusu, Spectres from the Past: The Politics of 'History', Memory and Slavery in West African and African-American Literature.
  • Danielle Faye Tran, ‘Post-apartheid Narratives of Trauma: Literary Representations of South Africa’s Contemporary Traumas’
  • Rashi Rohatgi, ‘Fighting Cane and Canon: Reading Abhimanyu Unnuth's Hindi Poetry in and outside of Literary Mauritius’
  • 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?'
  • Kindra Calonia, MA Postcolonial Studies, ‘Framing Dictators:  King, Buffoon, Tyrant: An analysis of literary and visual representations of African Dictators’
  • Tetsuhiko Endo, MA Postcolonial Studies, ‘The White Hunter and the Phantasmagoria of the Exotic’
  • Jaya Shakira Kamlesh Madhvani, MA Postcolonial Studies, ‘The Representation of London in Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album and Ishtiyaq Shukri’s The Silent Minaret: Home, Neighbourhood and Travel’
  • Jade Lee, MA African Studies,  ‘Women in the Colonial Service in Pre-Independence Cameroon: The Archives of Elizabeth O’Kelly’
  • Imogen Mathers, MA African Studies, ‘”Calling out and listening”: ways of listening to sounds, conversations, stories and the past in Teju Cole’s Open City
  • Eleanor Shaw, MA African Studies, ‘”You call it a disorder. We call it life”: Remembering Violence in Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love
  • Lucy Harley-McKeown, MA Postcolonial Studies, ‘Cultural Translations of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Adapting a Transitional Moment’
  • Taaka Odera, MA African Studies, ‘”Worlds in Movement: Afropoliltanism and Literature in Kenya and Nigeria’
  • Elspeth Tollemache, MA Postcolonial Studies, ‘Philida and the Museum van de Caab at Solms-Delta farm: questions of reclamation and reconciliation in the new South Africa’


Her research interests include:

Cultures of travel (especially the Cape and the Indian Ocean; Australia; Sri Lanka); archives;  visual and material cultures; landscape; maritime history; South African fiction and non-fiction in English (Coetzee; Wicomb); intertextuality; auto/ biography

Recent research and events include:

  • Initiating a joint centenary celebration in collaboration with the Centre of African Studies, SOAS; Canon Collins Educational & Legal Assistance Trust, and our hosts at the University of Fort Hare for the inaugural Jabavu Lecture, delivered by Prof Njabulo Ndebele (29 March 2017)

  • Guest curating the exhibition, 'Navigating the War: A Centenary Exhibition of the Richey Archives' at the Fairchild Gallery, Georgetown University Library (June-September 2017)

  • Co-convening the CHASE-funded international conference, 'Coetzee & the Archive', with Marc Farrant of Goldsmiths together with the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, Senate House, University of London (5-6 October 2017).  The conference closed with a public reading by Nobel Prizewinner (and SOAS honorary graduate) J. M. Coetzee of his most recent novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, a performance of selections from Bach by New Zealand pianist Kathryn Mosley, and a presentation by the Irish artist Richard Mosse, winner of the 2017 Prix Pictet.

  • See also: 'Chasing the Archives', which involved a riverboat journey with Coetzee and a group of CHASE doctoral students for our special workshop on 'Cartographies of the South'  at  Caird Library, National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (4 October 2017)

  • Co-editing (with Derek Attridge) Zoë Wicomb  & the Translocal: Scotland & South Africa (Routledge, October 2017)


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
Country Expertise
  • South Africa



Easton, Kai (2020) 'Southern Crossings: J.M. Coetzee at 80'. Wasafiri.

Easton, Kai (2015) 'Archive Notes: Travelling Africa & the Archives'. Journal of History and Cultures 5, pp 82-83.

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.

Edited Books or Journals

Farrant, Marc and Easton, Kai and Wittenberg, Hermann, (eds.), (2021) J.M. Coetzee & the Archive: fiction, theory, & autobiography. London: Bloomsbury.

Easton, Kai and Attridge, Derek, (eds.), (2017) Zoë Wicomb and the Translocal. Writing Scotland & South Africa. Abingdon; New York, NY: Routledge. (Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures).

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. London: Taylor & Francis.

Attwell, David and Easton, Kai, (eds.), (2010) Part Special Issue: Zoe Wicomb: Texts and Histories. London: Taylor & Francis.

Book Chapters

Easton, Kai (2017) '‘Travelling Light’: Images (via Wicomb) from the Gifberge to Glasgow'. In: Easton, Kai and Attridge, Derek, (eds.), Zoë Wicomb & the Translocal: Writing Scotland & South Africa. Abingdon; New York, NY: Routledge.

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

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.

Conference Items

Easton, Kai (2017) '‘Coetzee & the Archive’, October 5-6th 2017 – a CHASE sponsored international conference, featuring J.M. Coetzee. + ‘Chasing the Archives' In: Coetzee & the Archive, 5-6 October 2017, Senate House London.

Easton, Kai (2016) 'Landmarks: Reading Coetzee's Maternal Lines' In: Reading Coetzee's Women, 27-29 September 2016, Monash University, Prato Campus. [Unpublished]

Easton, Kai (2015) 'Vessels, Voyages and Visitors: HMS Vanguard and the Royal Tour of South Africa [1947]' In: Royals on Tour: The Politics and Pageantry of Royal Visits, 11-12 June 2015, University of Sydney. [Unpublished]

Easton, Kai (2015) 'Coetzee, the Cape & the Colonial Archive: Exploring Dusklands via Summertime' In: Seminar, Centre for Humanities Research, 11 August 2011, University of the Western Cape. [Unpublished]

Easton, Kai (2014) 'Maps & Notebooks: J. M. Coetzee & the Texas Archives' In: Coetzee Collective Colloquium, 12 March 2014, Dept of English, University of Cape Town. [Unpublished]

Easton, Kai (2013) 'Roads to Merweville, or On the Road with Scenes from Provincial Life' In: Coetzee Collective Colloquium, 13 March 2013, Dept of English, University of Cape Town. [Unpublished]

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. [Unpublished]

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 (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, pp 15-15.

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, pp 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, pp 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, pp 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, pp 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, pp 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, pp 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, pp 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 (2020) 'Scenes from the South: from the collections of the Harry Ransom Center and Amazwi South African Museum of Literature to mark the occasion of J.M. Coetzee’s 80th birthday'.

Easton, Kai (2020) 'Road to Oratunga'.

Easton, Kai (2017) 'Navigating the War: A Centenary Exhibition of the Richey Archives'.

Easton, Kai (2014) 'Karoo Country'. [Submitted]


Easton, Kai (2014) 'Maps & Notebooks: J. M. Coetzee & the Texas Archives'.

Easton, Kai (2014) 'Travelling Light: Images - via Wicomb - from the Gifberge to Glasgow'.

Easton, Kai (2011) 'Journey to Namaqualand'. [Unpublished]


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


Rutherford, Jennifer (2017) '"Traverses: J. M Coetzee in the World," directed by Professor Jennifer Rutherford, Director of The J. M. Coetzee Center for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide, Australia, 2017'.

Easton, Kai (2015) 'Tribute to J. M. Coetzee for SOAS Graduation 2015'. [Unpublished]

Easton, Kai (2015) 'Travelling Africa & the Archives'. [Unpublished]

Easton, Kai (2010) 'Teaching J. M. Coetzee's Foe and Disgrace: Intertextuality and the Question of Canonicity'. [Unpublished]


This list was last generated on Thursday, 21st October 2021, 00:07 Europe/London.