Hello and welcome to my website! My name is Robin. Historically I’ve used this website for a few different things. I’m a very amateur poet when the spirit strikes me, and when I’ve written something I’d like to share I’ll post it here. I’m also a historian of modern South Africa and a humor scholar, and on this site you’ll also find blog entries that I’ve written on a variety of topics relating to my Ph. D. journey between 2015 and 2021. For the 2022-2023 academic year one of my goals is to post more poetry and prose alike on here, so perhaps by the time you read this you’ll find something new to discover.
My doctoral dissertation “Laughter and Identity: A Social and Cultural History of South African Humor, 1910-1961” explores the complex purposes to which humor and satire were deployed in Union-era South Africa. Through case studies of leading humorists from a variety of racial and economic backgrounds, from the Afrikaner nationalist cartoonist D. C. Boonzaier to Zulu language media icon K. E. Masinga, it illustrates how laughter both bolstered and challenged white supremacy and systems of sexist domination, laying the groundwork along the way for a shared South African “sense of humor.”
I was a Fulbright-Hays D.D.R.A Fellow in 2019 and a F.L.A.S. recipient for Zulu in 2015-2017. My work has appeared in African Arts and the South African Theatre Journal and am currently busy revising my completed dissertation into a book manuscript. At Michigan State University this year I teach HST 201 (Historical Methods and Skills) as well as co-teach IAH 205 (Africa and the World) with my colleague Dr. Russell Stevenson.
In my spare time you’re liable to find me hiking, cooking, reading South African literature, or generally just wandering around (in Michigan you can’t really get lost; all the roads are at right angles). I’m glad you’ve taken the time to visit me here, and I hope you won’t be a stranger if something interests you.