The Centre for Film & Media Studies has been more than busy with the publication of three new books in the last two months.
They are L'art d'enseigner de Martin Heidegger, edited by Valerie Allen and Ares Axiotis; Travels into the Interior of Africa via the Cape of Good Hope by Francois le Vaillant, translated by Professor Ian Glenn in collaboration with Ian Farlam and Catherine Lauga du Plessis; and Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: The Fundamental Documents, selected, introduced and annotated by Professor Eric Doxtader and Professor Philippe-Joseph Salazar.
"These books are the products of lengthy scholarship, and they will form the basis for further research because of the re-orientation of thinking that each achieves," says Glenn, director of the CFMS. 'For example, the translation of le Vaillant's travel notes demonstrates unequivocally that the discourse of human rights was present in the South African landscape of the 18th century."
The book on Francois Le Vaillant was launched at the wine farm Rust-en-Vreugd last month, some 224 years after that homestead was used to house the collection that resulted from the writer's 16-month voyage into the Eastern interior.
The series on Heidegger, for which Salazar is the general editor, has already attracted a major review from Nicolas Weill in Le Monde.
Glenn argues that Le Vaillant was a far more influential and wide-ranging literary and media influence than Olive Schreiner or later literary figures.
"Le Vaillant's Travels into the Interior of Africa via the Cape of Good Hope not only shaped European perceptions of South Africa but also provided the model for many of the most influential literary and cultural products internationally," he says. "This travel book can claim to be the model for a wide range of media genres and products: the hunting narrative; the safari as a higher, more spiritual version of the hunting narrative; the anthropological field-record; the lavishly illustrated and mapped first-person travel account we associate with National Geographic reports; the exotic adventure story; the erotic possibility of the exotic; and the investigative exposé of colonial brutality and abuse based on Enlightenment sense of human rights and a critical distance from European ethnocentricity."
Glenn asserts that le Vaillant's influence can be found in an extremely broad range of writers and painters, including John James Audubon, Gordon Cummings, his own great-nephew Charles Baudelaire, Paul Gauguin, Henry Rider Haggard, Joseph Conrad, Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, JM Coetzee, TRC reporters, and millions of modern safari-goers and bird-watchers.
"The books form the basis for further research because of the re-orientation of thinking that each achieves," he says.
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