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Leon de Kock

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About Leon de Kock

Leon de KockProfessor Leon de Kock is the Head of the School of Literature and Language Studies at Wits. He holds a BA Honours degree, which he obtained in 1978 from the Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg), a Masters degree in Commonwealth Literature from the University of Leeds (1984) and a PhD from the University of South Africa (1993).

Before spending four years as a writer, reporter and sub-editor at Beeld, Die Burger and The Star between 1978 and 1982, De Kock worked as an assistant lecturer in English at RAU, where he studied under the mentorship of Stephen Gray. After his stint in various newsrooms, he returned to the world of academia as a lecturer, progressing through the ranks until he was made Professor of English at UNISA. He served in the Department of English at UNISA between 1985 and 2007.

Although his ‘greatest achievement’ as he puts it, is the translation from Afrikaans to English of Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk, De Kock has been the recipient of many a literary award for his contribution to the arts and literature in South Africa. These include the Pringle Prize for Poetry in 1985, the FNB Vita/English Academy Prize for Poetry Translation in 2000 and the SA Translators’ Award for Outstanding Translation (Triomf), also in 2000. At UNISA, he twice received the Chancellor’s Prize for Research.

De Kock has published many articles in academic journals on literature, postcolonial identity formation in nineteenth-century South Africa, literary historiography and cultural politics, as well as scholarly books, fiction, poetry and literary translation. He is a popular speaker at conferences, seminars and public lectures, regularly writes for the Sunday Times and other publications, and has been a guest on several radio and television programmes featuring the arts and literature.

His authored and co-authored literary works include South Africa in the Global Imaginary (UNISA Press and Brill) with Louise Bethlehem and Sonja Laden, Identities: South African Short Stories (Juta-Gariep) Bloodsong: Poems (Snailpress), Gone to the Edges (Poems, Protea Book House) Civilising Barbarians: Missionary Narrative and African Textual Response in Nineteenth-Century South Africa (Wits Press and Lovedale Press), The Heart in Exile: South African Poetry in English (Penguin) with Ian Tromp and Verborge Skatte: Herman Charles Bosman in/oor Afrikaans (Human and Rousseau). He recently completed a translation of Etienne van Heerden’s novel In Stede van die Liefde and is currently completing a new writing project.


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