English studies: Decolonisation, deparochialising knowledge and the null curriculum

  • Chaka Chaka University of South Africa
  • Mirriam Lephalala University of South Africa
  • Nandipha Ngesi Walter Sisulu University, South Africa
Keywords: English studies, Modules, Decolonisation, Deparochialising knowledge, Null curriculum


This paper reports on a desktop review study of undergraduate and postgraduate English studies (both English literature and English language) module offerings (n = 48) of 24 English departments at 17 South African higher education institutions (HEIs) conducted in 2017. The review focused on the presence and purpose of the term, decolonisation, in these module offerings. Framed within deparochialism and a null curriculum, and employing purposeful sampling and explicit inclusion criteria common in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, the study has the following findings: (a) decolonisation has a presence in only three undergraduate module offerings and it is mentioned in only one honours module offering among the 48 module offerings reviewed. (b) All four modules are English literature modules; (c) decolonisation is a module thematic or topical component and is used for critical analytical purposes in the identified modules in varying degrees. (d) In the three undergraduate modules, decolonisation is restricted to African literature or Africa writings and (e) in the postgraduate module, decolonisation is offered as one of the four optional stand-alone modules. Finally, the paper argues for a decolonisation that deparochialises the disciplines of English studies.


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