About Felicity Wood

Professor Felicity Wood is employed by the University of Fort Hare, in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa. Her particular area of research interest is the way in which contemporary western and westernised societies are steeped in aspects of mystery, mythmaking, ritual and magic, especially in economic and socio-political contexts and the present-day workplace. She has written a book exploring the occult aspects of contemporary higher education and free-market capitalism, entitled Universities and the Occult Rituals of the Corporate World: Higher Education and Metaphorical Parallels with Myth and Magic, and she has also published articles in this area.

Prior to this, she spent many years conducting research into contemporary oral narratives from Xhosa-speaking communities that engage with or rework aspects of the Eastern Cape supernatural. Many of her earlier publications stem from this, including The Extraordinary Khotso: Millionaire Medicine Man of Lusikisiki. This book investigates magic as a marketable commodity, focusing on the life of an early twentieth-century South African inyanga (medicine man) and entrepreneur. However, her research is shaped by the awareness that mystical, magic beliefs and practices are by no means restricted to the African continent. Instead they lie at the heart of western societies, surrounding that within which much power is vested and to which deep significance is often attached, such as consumer capitalism and notions of the market. She explores the metaphorical parallels between these forms of contemporary enchantment and aspects of the occult in her current research, which focuses on consumerism, commodity fetishism and South African wealth-giving spirits.

The courses she teaches include creative writing, mythology, African oral literature, and African and world poetry. In the earlier part of her academic career, she and Brian Walter produced a book intended for first-year literature students, entitled Groundwork: an Introduction to Reading and Writing about Poetry and an Anthology of Poetry in English. The book was designed particularly for students in her first-year poetry courses, who do not speak English as their first language. Many of them come from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and some have never studied poetry before.