Daniel Herwitz Lecture: "The Emperor of Sophiatown: Peter Brook Does Can Temba"


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  • Speaker: Daniel Herwitz
  • Host Department: Institute for the Humanities
  • Date: 02/17/2014
  • Time: 12:30PM

  • Location: Institute for the Humanities, 202 S. Thayer, Ann Arbor

  • The Suit

    Photo credit: Johan Persson

  • Description:

    Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of Comparative Literature, History of Art, Philosophy and Art & Design, and our former director, Daniel Herwitz lectures on South African writer Can Themba, whose short story inspired Peter Brook’s play “The Suit.”

    In this presentation Professor Daniel Herwitz will explore the life and world of South African writer Can Themba, whose short story inspired Peter Brook’s play The Suit. UMS presents Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord perform "The Suit" February 19-22, 2014.

    Can Themba was a kind of emperor of Sophiatown, the city of color edged against the terrain of Johannesburg during tumultuous years of the South African colony and Apartheid State (until the Apartheid authorities razed it to the ground between 19550-60, at which point Themba went into exile in Swaziland). There he lectured, pontificated, conversed with anyone who wished to meet him, including writers like Nadine Gordimer. This presentation will think through what it meant to be a black African intellectual at a moment early to Apartheid, when rapprochement and “getting along” seemed genuine, non-violent possibilities, and about the suit of clothes in which Can Themba dressed his pen.

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