Marijke van Vuuren, an English lecturer at the University of Pretoria, spent most of 2010 completing her D.Litt, which would have been submitted for examination early this year. She passed away 11 December 2011.
Her unfinished thesis will be edited and submitted for the degree to be awarded posthumously. “It will be her final gift to us,” explained her doctoral supervisor and co-lecturer at the Department of English, Professor David Medalie.
Medalie, in consultation with her husband, Prof. Rex van Vuuren, will take on the task of editing her unfinished thesis and turning it into a book later this year. Medalie explains that it is merely Van Vuuren’s final conclusion which is missing from her final thesis.
According to Medalie, the reasons Van Vuuren embarked on her doctorate was deeply personal and rose from her belief in the importance of the concerns it addresses. In her study entitled, The Truth of Wounded Memories: the Question of Forgiveness in Selected Post-Apartheid Texts, Van Vuuren looks at the ways in which certain South African writers in the post-apartheid period have explored the aftermath of a scarred and damaged society.
She particularly focuses on the possibilities of forgiveness and the impulse to come to terms with a painful past. “Marijke believed passionately in the liberating power of forgiveness,” Medalie continued.
He describes Van Vuuren as utterly free of self-importance and with no desire of self-promotion. He also notes that her thesis strikes him as a crystallisation of all the values which informed her life. “On every page is the calm and carefully deliberating voice which we all associate with her and which we so desperately miss now,” Medalie said.
Medalie was speaking at Ms Van Vuuren’s memorial service, held in the University’s Chapel on 1 March 2011. Attended by various lecturers of the Department of Humanities, friends, family and students it was evident that Van Vuuren was a gentle, modest and humble person. “Her infectious warmth will live on,” said Prof. Sandra Klopper, Dean of Humanities.