Hitting the Hot Spots: Literary Tourism as a Research Field with Particular Reference to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
AbstractLiterary tourism is a new field in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and South Africa more generally. Whilst in England, the interested reader/traveller can buy books on Hardy's Wessex, Dickens's London and Shakespeare's Stratford-on-Avon; show literature students and the public generally an assortment of films on places associated with important writers, and even go on guided walks through famous ‘literary' places like Wordsworth's Lake District; there is very little of the same for the South African literature researcher–or indeed literary fan. KwaZulu-Natal is a particularly rich province culturally speaking, offering a wide range of writers both black and white, male and female, writing in English and Zulu predominantly–Alan Paton, Roy Campbell, Lewis Nkosi, Lauretta Ngcobo, Daphne Rooke to mention but a few. Efforts by literary scholars to encourage literary tourism in this fertile area inevitably lead one to consider a research agenda; in my case this has a threefold purpose involving firstly, the creation of a literary archive of local writers both past and present; secondly, the recording of selected writers and their works on film, and thirdly, the establishment of a ‘literary map' of the region on website. Such a research agenda carries with it complex questions: how to define a ‘local' writer? How to understand the uses a writer makes of place? Who should be featured and why? How do readers' constructed places interface with ‘real' places? What could the impact of literary tourism be? This paper engages with some of these questions and attempts to suggest a possible research agenda that has exciting possibilities within KwaZulu-Natal, and which could offer a potential framework for similar literary tourism projects in other provinces of South Africa in the future.
Critical Arts Vol.18(2) 2004: 31-44