Stephen Symons holds an MA (UCT) and PhD in History from the University of Pretoria. He is widely published across a number of fields, including non-fiction and his academic field of interest. His PhD thesis, Shadows asking an echo to dance – Navigating ambiguity: How former conscripts (1980-1990) navigate memories of induction into the South African Defence Force (SADF) in post-apartheid society provides fresh insights, via multi-methodological means, into the construction of militarised masculinities, memory and whiteness in apartheid-era South Africa. He is particularly interested in the manner in which historical memory and counter-memory emerge from military and militarised environments. He has taught and exhibited in various tertiary institutions and has conducted seminars at UCT, Stellenbosch University and the University of Pretoria. Symons’ poetry collections (Questions for the Sea, 2016 & Landscapes of Light and Loss, 2018) and short stories have been published locally and internationally. He was short-listed for the American Hudson Prize for Poetry (2015), Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry (2017) and the Ingrid Jonker Prize for Poetry (2018).
How do we prevent the erasure of history and present creative contributions to the expansion of the archive? I am particularly interested in employing and exploring alternative articulations of contested pasts by means of visual art and literature, specifically poetry, and acknowledging that “differences in memory and experience defy easy conclusions” within the present. The manner in which military and militarised histories (on a human level) are navigated by the individual and broader society are of particular interest to me.