During his academic career, he offered master classes to MA Creative Writing students writing in both English and Afrikaans, as part of arguably the leading creative writing programme in Africa. Writers like Yewande Omotoso, Lien Botha, Nicole Strauss, Tom Dreyer and  Sam Wilson sat in his classes.

Writing Course leads to five new books
Back (left to right): Etienne van Heerden, Willemien Brümmer and Michael Rands. Front: Ingrid Wolfaardt, Quintus van der Merwe and Nanette van Rooyen.  Photo: Monday Paper

His activities at the University of Cape Town furthermore included the individual supervision of developing MA Creative Writing dissertations, where he has led a generation of young English and Afrikaans authors to published status, amongst others Debbie Loots, Michael Rands, Sonja Loots, Terry Westby-Nunn and Tom Dreyer. Nineteen of his individually supervised students published their dissertations as books with leading South African publishers, some winning major national awards. Of the books developed under his supervision, Tom Dreyer’s Stinkafrikaners won the Eugène Marais Prize of the South African Academy for Science and Arts and Nini Bennett’s Stoornis won the RAU (now UJ) Award for New Fiction. Nicole Strauss won the University of Johannesburg Prize for the best debut in Afrikaans in 2011, as well as the 2011 Eugėne Marais Award of the South African Academy for Science and Arts, followed by Terry Westby-Nunn winning the same award in 2012 for best literary debut in English. Debbie Loots won the ATKV Award for her novel Split, and Lien Botha won the Eugène Marais Prize and the Jan Rabie-Rapport Prize for Best Debut Novel for Wonderboom. Many other students from his masters classes in Creative Writing  have also emerged as published writers.

Van Heerden’s research interests in literature include literary theory, the novel as genre, Caribbean Dutch literature, hypertext, narratology, Afrikaans prose since the early 1980s, and specific areas such as historiography and fiction. As an academic, Van Heerden published in accredited academic journals and supervised postgraduate academic dissertations.

As Hofmeyr Professor he was head of the Department of Afrikaans and Netherlandic Studies at UCT and acted as Director of the Centre for Creative Writing. He also served on the board of directors of NB Publishers, which included, amongst others, the imprints Kwela, Tafelberg, Best Books, Pharos, Van Schaik and Human & Rousseau.

Authors whose manuscripts were supervised by Etienne van Heerden and subsequently published in book form include:

Lien Botha

Wonderboom
Novel
Queillerie

Reviews / Interviews

Henning Snyman: LitNet Akademies-resensie-essay: Wonderboom deur Lien Botha
Dewald Koen: Wonderboom: Met dié sterk debuut verrig Lien wondere met woorde
Naomi Meyer: Tien vrae (en foto’s): Wonderboom deur Lien Botha
Herman Lategan: 10 vrae aan Lien Botha: Kaleidoskoop van talente
Debbie Loots: Debuutroman wat aangryp

 

Debbie Loots

Split
Novel
Queillerie

Wilna Adriaanse

’n Klein lewe
Novel
Tafelberg

Website

http://www.wilnaadriaanse.co.za/

Reviews

Elbie Adendorff: ’n Klein lewe allesbehalwe klein

Terry Westby-Nunn

The Sea of Wise Insects
Jacana

Website

http://www.terrywestbynunn.com

Nicole Jaekel Strauss

Maal
Short story collection
Queillerie

Reviews

Marius Crous: Debuut maak jou lus vir meer
Thys Human: ’n Bundel waarin jy jou tande kan slaan

Toast Coetzer

Naweek
Novel
Tafelberg

Reviews

JB Roux: Naweek hard, maar tog subtiel
Izak de Vries: Toast Coetzer se Naweek bitter maar lekker

Nanette van Rooyen

Chinchilla

Novel
Human & Rousseau

Ingrid Wolfaardt

Heartfruit

Novel
Tafelberg

Quintus van der Merwe

Die blou van ons hemel
Novel
Tafelberg

Michael Rands

Praise Routine Number Four
Novel
Tafelberg

Willemien Brümmer

Die dag toe ek my hare losgemaak het
Short story collection
Human & Rousseau

Chanette Paul-Hughes

Leila word lig
Novel
Human & Rousseau
Photo: Francois Bloemhof

Sonja Loots

Spoor
Novel
Tafelberg

 

Tom Dreyer

Stinkafrikaners
Novel
Tafelberg
Winner of the Eugene Marais Prize

Nini Bennett

Stoornis
Short stories
Tafelberg

Jaco Botha

Sweisbril

Short stories
Human & Rousseau

Izak de Vries

Kom slag ’n bees
Short stories
Tafelberg

Rachelle Greeff

Hanna
Novel
Tafelberg
Photo: Melt Myburgh

Compilations

Together with his students and other writers Etienne van Heerden created Die Rooi Roman as an online interactive novel. This collective effort – a first for Afrikaans – was eventually published in book form by Human & Rousseau. It was co-edited by Jaco Botha, a senior student at the time and now a well-established short story writer.

Van Heerden challenged his students to create two “unconventional” love stories each. The result was the collection Die mooiste liefde is verby, published by Tafelberg.