Northeastern Illinois University Associate Professor of English Chielozona Eze has been named a fellow by the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS). Eze was one of 60 scholars and researchers selected to receive this 2016 STIAS fellowship.
Starting in January, he will spend six months at STIAS, located in Stellenbosch, South Africa, to work on the book project titled “Transcultural Affinity: Cosmopolitan Imagination in Post-Apartheid South Africa.”
The project will examine the influence of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and major South African writers on South African moral imagination. It argues that South Africa provides an answer to what it means to belong to a given society in the age of displacement and constant mobility of people.
Eze’s study of the emergent South African cosmopolitan imagination has encouraged his interest in the idea of world literature.
“I examine how an informed reading of African literature can contribute to our understanding of world literature not just as an assemblage of literatures from different parts of the world, but as literatures that suggest affinities between peoples on the one hand and, on the other, encourage mutual interdependence of cultures for meaning,” he said.
Eze will work with members of Harvard’s Institute for World Literature Department of Comparative Literature.
“I am very pleased to be chosen, alongside other important scholars such as Homi Bhabha (Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University) to conduct research at this famous institution in Stellenbosch,” he said.
Eze’s scholarly focus is on narrative empathy—the sharing of feeling and perspective-taking induced by reading, viewing, hearing or imagining narratives of another’s situation and condition. The book project’s theme will support empathy, affinity and cosmopolitanism.
“I believe in the importance of empathy in relations in society,” he said.