Dr Christopher Warnes, St John's



Biographical Information

I studied at the Universities of Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal, and Cambridge and I have held lecturing appointments at the Open University and the University of Stellenbosch. In my first book I explore the history and cultural politics of the novelistic genre known as magical realism. I am currently working on two projects: an examination of what novels can tell us about change in South Africa after apartheid; and a study of the relations between orality and modernity in contemporary African literarature.

Research Interests

African literature; postcolonial studies; the novel; digital culture.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I am interested in supervising graduate work on topics related to West or Southern African literatures and cultures. I am happy to consider innovative proposals on comparative postcolonial topics, revisionary perspectives on the history of the novel, and postcolonial and materialist approaches to digital cultural production. PhD projects I have supervised or which are in progress include:

Jana Giles: The Postcolonial Sublime; Laura Pechey: Animals in South African literature; Megan Jones: Literary Representations of Johannesburg; Ed Charlton: Stage and Screen in South Africa after the Truth Commission; Graham Riach: The South African Short Story; Diana Leca: The Politics of Literary Style; Decca Muldowney: Space and Identity in Anglophone Palestinian Writing; Jennifer Upton: Literary Non-fiction in South Africa; Rachel Knighton: Writing the African Prison; Alice Meyer: Poetry and Politics in Postapartheid South Africa.

Selected Publications


  •  Magical Realism and the Postcolonial Novel: Between Faith and Irreverence. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Paperback edition: 2014.

Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Desired State: Black Economic Empowerment and the South African Popular Romance.” Popular Culture in Africa: the Episteme of the Everyday. Stephanie Newell and Onookome Okome (eds), Routledge, 2014.
  • “Writing Crime in the New South Africa: Negotiating Threat in the Novels of Deon Meyer and Margie Orford”. Journal of Southern African Studies, 28:4 (2012): 981-991.
  • "Postcolonial Writing in South Africa". The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, ed. Ato Quayson. Cambridge University Press, 2012. 329-351
  • "Everyone is Guilty: Complicitous Critique and the Plaasroman Tradition in Etienne van Heerden’s Toorberg". Research in African Literatures. 42.1 (2011): 120-132.
  • "Welcome to Msawawa: The Postapartheid Township in Niq Mhlongo's Novels of Deception". Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47.4 (2011): 546-557
  • "Interview with Ivan Vladislavic". Marginal Spaces: On Ivan Vladislavic, ed. Gerald Gaylard. Johannesburg: WITS University Press, 2011. Originally published in Modern Fiction Studies 46.1 (2000): 273–281.
  • "The Afrikaans Novel". The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel, ed. F Abiola Irele. Cambridge University Press, 2009. 69-83.
  • "Chronicles of Belief and Unbelief: Zakes Mda and the Question of Magical Realism in South African Literature.” Ways of Writing: Critical Essays on Zakes Mda, ed. David Bell and Johan Jacobs. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2009. 73-90.