At home in Johannesburg? Rethinking cosmopolitanism through <i>TJ/Double Negative</i>, the Joint Project between David Goldblatt and Ivan Vladislavić


  • James Graham Middlesex University


David Goldblatt, Ivan Vladislavić, world-literature, cosmopolitanism, art of the book


This article examines the cosmopolitan character of TJ/Double Negative (2010) and argues that the prize-winning photography book, co-produced by the South African photographer David Goldblatt and writer and editor Ivan Vladislavić, is both a symptomatic expression of uneven development and a self-conscious interrogation of that unevenness. The book comprises two ‘parts’: Goldblatt’s iconic photographic series, TJ: Johannesburg Photographs 1948-2010, and Vladislavić’s novel Double Negative, a metafiction that refracts the story of modern Johannesburg – but also of Goldblatt’s career and the concomitant genre evolution of South African photojournalism from local ‘documentary’ to world-renowned ‘art’ – as it is reconstructed in TJ.  This experiment in interdiscursivity is significant not simply for being the first of its kind – ‘a unique event in publishing’, as the publisher contrasto declares in its marketing blurb - but rather because through this collaborative but also multi-modal venture a new mode of critical cosmopolitanism in world-literature might be discerned.

Author Biography

James Graham, Middlesex University

James Graham is a senior lecturer in Media and Literary Studies at the University of Middlesex. He is the author of Land and Nationalism in Fictions from Southern Africa (Rouledge, 2009) and with Sharae Deckard and Mike Niblett edited the special issue ‘Postcolonial Studies and World Literature’ for the Journal of Postcolonial Writing (2012). His most recent work focuses on Ivan Vladislavić’s work with other writers and visual artists in South Africa and with Katie Read is currently editing a collection on ‘Ivan Vladislavić and Visual Culture in South Africa’ to be published in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature.