The Konstantin Sofianos Scholarship has been established to provide financial support for exceptional Honours students enrolled in the English Literature Honours programme at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. The scholarship was established in 2015, following the untimely death of Konstantin Sofianos (1983 – 2015), a lecturer at UCT’s English Department.
Konstantin was an exceptional scholar, teacher and interlocutor. During his time at UCT and Oxford University (UK) he displayed an uncanny breadth and depth of reading and a critical but generous mind. His teaching and work remain a testament to his unfailing conviction and commitment to literature and criticism in South African society – and its fundamental role as transformative praxis.
In establishing the scholarship, we aim to continue this legacy of intellectual engagement and conviction by supporting exceptional students who in some way reflect Konstantin’s intellectual vision.
Currently, the scholarship prize stands at R28,000 (ZAR) for the winner and R1000 for the runner-up. The first prize was awarded at the beginning of 2016. Paula Stephanie Andropoulos was the first winner of the Konstantin Sofianos Scholarship with her essay on V.S. Naipaul’s “A Bend in the River”. In 2017, Parusha Chetty was our winner, with her essay on Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, I’m only Bleeding”. In 2018, Noah Swinney won our scholarship with his illuminating essay “I am nobody or I’m a nation” on Derek Walcott’s poem “The Sea is History”.
The 2019 winner is Hannah Fagan. Her essay “The Echoes of our voices – translating the paradoxes of exile through the poetry of Breyten Breytenbach and Mahmoud Darwish” was our pick out of a number of very strong essays. Our reader, Prof. emeritus Kelwyn Sole commented: “This candidate demonstrated a careful and nuanced understanding of how the poets dealt with the ambiguities of exile.” The full report can be read here.
We will continue to support passion and vigour in intellectual engagement, rather than quotas or academic reputations in the future.
If you are interested in applying for the scholarship for the academic year starting early 2020, please see our section on applying.
We are currently one of only two foundations in South Africa who provide financial support for students enrolled in an Honours programme in English Literature – please support this cause and our vision by donating.
The Konstantin Sofianos Scholarship supports the imperative towards accountable public institutions and education which, through its inclusive approach and intellectual rigour, will contribute towards creating a society in which justice and substantive equality are unfailingly pursued. In this capacity, we will be continuing with our plans to award the 2018 scholarship. In doing so, we remain committed to supporting South African scholars in their critical and intellectual work, while also acknowledging the broader problems which are currently reflected in the demonstrations and violence which have erupted in universities across the country.