Utopia across Cultures: A Workshop

Date: February 2018 TBA
Venue: TBA
Open to: PhD candidates and RMa students; members of OSL will have first access
Lecturer: dr. Barnita Bagchi, UvA
Registration will open soon

This masterclass invites advanced postgraduate students to explore the mobile, cross-cultural nature of utopia. Even if the word was invented in Europe in 1516 by Thomas More, utopia has manifestations in and has travelled between all inhabited continents, for example in Asia, through Buddhism. The heuristic mode so crucial to utopian writing, which is usefully seen as a kind of speculative writing,  plays in richly varied ways with thinking across cultures. Utopia articulates dreams of a better life and anticipations of the future (Bloch, 1954-1959); a ‘social dreaming’ (Claeys and Sargent 1999), utopia combines social and imaginative experimentation. In this masterclass, students will be thinking through how the transcultural plays out in utopian writing from the 20th and 21st centuries.  Afrofuturism and hybrid aesthetics influenced by South Asian cultures are in focus.

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers – Framen, schrappen en herschrijven

Datum: 8, 10 & 12 januari 2018 (onder voorbehoud/might be subject to change)
Locatie: Universiteit Utrecht
Bestemd voor: Promovendi en RMa studenten, verbonden aan OSL
Voertaal: Nederlands
EC: 3 (aanwezigheid bij alle bijeenkomsten vereist)
Registratie opent binnenkort
Bij aanmelding graag vermelden welke RMa opleiding je volgt.

Valorisatie wordt in de wetenschap steeds belangrijker. En dan gaat het er niet alleen over dat je onderzoek aansluiting vindt bij maatschappelijke thema’s, maar ook dat je aan het brede publiek duidelijk kunt maken waar het over gaat en wat er interessant aan is. In deze korte, intensieve schrijfcursus leer je in verschillende tekstgenres je onderzoek te presenteren. Hoe kun je in een opiniërende column de aansluiting zoeken bij de actualiteit? Welke offers moet je (niet) brengen wanneer je in de media komt of een boek schrijft voor een publieksuitgeverij? Hoe kun je je onderzoek ‘framen’? De cursus bestaat uit schrijfoefeningen en discussies.

Docent: Geert Buelens, hoogleraar Moderne Nederlandse Letterkunde Universiteit Utrecht en meermaals bekroond en vertaald essayist, columnist en schrijver van literaire non-fictie.

Violence and Memory in Postcolonial Literature and Film: Cultural Remembrances

Date: October 2017— January 2018
Venue: University of Amsterdam
Fee (non-members): 250
Credits: 5 ECTS (available upon request)
Registration: Maximum participants in this seminar: 15-20
Open to: ReMa students and PhD candidates who are members of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool); OSL student members will have first access. PhD candidates should ask permission in advance from the seminar’s coordinator and send a short description of their research projects.
Credits & Certificate: Certificates of participation and credits are available upon request after the event. Event coordinator will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Please direct your request to OSL (osl-fgw[at]uva[dot]nl) and include your address details.
Coordination: Dr Ihab Saloul, isaloul[at]uva[dot]nl

“The colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence.”
— Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth (1963:86)

The decisive role that Fanon attributes to material violence in the colonial context had an inexorable afterlife in the postcolonial world. According to Fanon, violence functions like a language in the colonial system, such that the colonised who seeks to overthrow the coloniser is only writing back in the coloniser’s own language. The texts and films we will study reflect this intersection of violation and political violence. Contrary to Fanon, however, they present it as a mutating, complex cultural phenomenon that draws its energies from multiple histories. postcolonial literary and audiovisual media, as we will see, not only locate violence in culturally specific sites and values such as shame, honour, purity and sacrifice, but they also draw their charge from the ways the corporeality or the embodied politics of “the victim” is made to stand in for the body politic. Think of the links between contemporary cases of political conflict across the world and Western colonial history of these territories. Other examples include European experiences with the so-called “violent migrant”, and how the phenomenon of migration runs the risk of being enduringly aesthetized. Among other matters, postcolonial texts and media expose the brutalities of war, the entanglement of family dynamics in armed resistance to political oppression, the ambiguities of bearing witness to violation, and the effects of metropolitan values imposed upon poverty-stricken societies on the brink of chaos. These explosive topics will be the focus of our discussion. We will explore the historical references that postcolonial cultural expressions adopt in the context of globalisation, and ask whether their symbolism adds or undercuts their political urgency? How does the extremity of the subject matter of these media effect their reaching beyond the conventions of realism into the realms of memory and the imagined (even the surreal, and the grotesque sometimes)? Of related interest will be the ways in which postcolonial literature and media experiment with anti-linear sequences and spatiotemporal continuities of memory in order to stage an apocalyptic climax that collapses past, present and future violence.

The seminar’s objectives are:

  • To introduce students to postcolonial memory debates and theories in connection to contemporary media representations of memory, violence, migration, identity and globalisation
  • To provide students with analytical tools to deal with these concepts in postcolonial literature and films from different historical and cultural contexts.

Instructional Format & Examination
The course includes lectures, film viewings, and a mini-conference. Students are expected to:

  • Attendance and active participation (20%)
  • Group and Individual presentations (30%)
  • 3000 word analytical report, with a focus on the seminar’s themes (50%)

Creative Writing: Practice, Research and Reflection

Dates: October 27, November 10 and December 1 (10:00-16:30; dates might be subject to change)
Venue: Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam
Open to: PhD candidates and RMa students; members of OSL will have first access
ECTS: 5 (Note: Participants are required to attend all sessions)
Organisation: dr Stephan Besser (UvA/OSL)
Instructor afternoon seminars: dr Simon Cook (UU)
Guest lectures by dr Stephen Benson (University of East Anglia), dr Clare Connors (University of East Anglia) et al.
Registration: via osl-fgw@uva.nl (registration will open soon)

In this course, participants reflect on academic writing as a genre and acquire a wider range of skills. They learn to use creative writing techniques as forms of artistic research and methodological inspiration. The morning sessions introduce recent research on creative writing as a historical and discursive phenomenon, various approaches to creativity and the practical experiences of authors and journalists who have crossed the borders between academic, literary and journalistic writing. Special attention will be given to modes of creative critical writing. In the afternoon seminars, students experiment with various literary and creative writing techniques.


Course – Computational Literary Studies

Dates: Spring 2018 TBA
Time: 15.00-18.00 hrs.
Venue: University of Amsterdam TBA
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access
Organiser: prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (UvA)
ECTS: 3-6
Registration will open fall 2017

Scholars working in computational literary studies make use of computer software that helps them to analyze digital textual data. Software can support the exploration of a much larger amount of data in systematic ways than was possible before. In this course, students will get introduced to the most important current approaches in computational literary studies, ranging from the analysis of style and methods for the verification and attribution of authorship to various forms of ‘distant reading’ and discourse analysis.

The first part of the course explores the new horizons and possibilities as well as the limitations of computational approaches in literary studies. Several computational tools will be demonstrated such as concordance software that can be used for discourse analytical approaches and specialized R-scripts for authorship attribution and stylistic analysis. The questions to be addressed in the first four sessions of the seminar include: How can different authors be distinguished from each other using computational tools? In which ways do their writing styles exactly differ? What are the options for computer-assisted discourse analysis? What kinds of reasoning and logic play a role when computational tools are applied and what are their epistemological implications? How can be evaluate the results of the new methods and techniques?

The second part of the course is optional and more practical. In two workshop-like meetings students will conduct small research projects of their own. In this way, they will learn to use the computational tools themselves and gain practical experience with their possibilities and limitations. The research projects can be devoted to the cases presented in the first part of the course but also be proposed by the students themselves.

Course objectives:

  • Students learn to employ empirical and computational methods in literary studies, including the selection of tools and the reflection on their possibilities and limitations.
  • Students get an overview of international discussions in the fields of computational literary studies and digital humanities and learn to relate their research to these debates.
  • Students learn to reflect on the relation of research questions and digital methods in literary studies.




Students receive 3 EC for active participation (readings and small assignments) in the first four meetings and an additional 3 EC for participation in the workshops and the preparation of a final assignment (= paper of 3000 words).

For more information please contact dr Stephan Besser (s.besser@uva.nl)


Conference on Frisian Humanities

The Fryske Akademy organizes its 1st Conference on Frisian Humanities

Date: 23 to 26 April 2018
Location: City Theatre “De Harmonie” in Leeuwarden

The event is part of ‘Lân fan taal’ (country of languages) of Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture.

The conference aims to provide a forum for scientific debate with an international perspective about language and culture in Frisian regions.

The Conference on Frisian Humanities consists of a series of five symposia, focusing on the following topics:

23-24 April

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Literature (Dutch conference)
  • Medieval Frisia

25-26 April

  • Multilingualism
  • Urban Histories

Please mark the dates on your calendar. More information (about programme content, registration as well as proposal submission) will follow soon.

Contact organization
info@frisianhumanities.nl or call +31 (0)58 2045200

Daan Rutten and Emy Koopman receive OSL Award 2016

The OSL Award winners of 2016 are Daan Rutten and Emy Koopman. Both received their prize during the annual OSL Research Day on April 7, 2017.

The OSL Award is intended to acknowledge original and innovative contributions to Literary Studies by OSL members who have obtained their doctorate no longer than four years ago. This was the first edition of the contest and the jury was very pleased with the high quality of the contributions. Picking a winner wasn’t easy – as a matter of fact, the jury decided to award the price to two contributions, an article (by Emy Koopman) and a monograph (by Daan Rutten). But the members of the jury would also like thank explicitly all the  participants and authors of priceworthy contributions who have made this a particularly strong and impressive competition.

Congratulations, Daan and Emy, on behalf of the jury and OSL Board!

Report of the Jury

Daan Rutten

Daan Rutten will receive the OSL Award for the published version of his dissertation on the work of renowned Dutch writer W. F. Hermans, which he defended in December 2016 at Utrecht University. The book is entitled De ernst van het spel (The Gravity of the Game). Willem Frederik Hermans en de ethiek van de persoonlijke mythologie.

In his study, Rutten proposes a new view of Hermans, who has long been seen as typical example of a disengaged modernist author, characterized by an autonomous poetics and a ‘cynical’ or even nihilist attitude towards society. Rutten’s fascinating revision of this ‘standard view’ does not simply consist in arguing that Hermans, in fact, was much more ‘engaged’ with society than previous critics thought, but in taking the notion of game seriously: Yes, Rutten argues, Hermans regarded existence as a form of ‘play’, but in the serious sense of language games (as seen by Ludwig Wittgenstein) and the games of signification we cannot escape once we enter the symbolic order (as described by Jacques Lacan).

To be an engaged writer, then, means to be engaged with the ongoing construction and deconstruction of these symbolic games; it means to be a ‘speler’ rather than a ‘spelbreker’ (spoilsport), as which Hermans has been typically seen. And it opens up new perspectives for the interpretation of Hermans’s works and his approaches to the serious ‘games’ of politics and science.

The jury was very much impressed with Rutten’s original and compelling re-interpretation of Herman’s allegedly disengaged modernist poetics as well as with the vibrant and accessible style of his study. It also admired the convincing combination of an aesthetic perspective and careful close readings with a cultural studies sensibility for the discursive entanglements of literature and a clear theoretical framing of the analysis.

Emy Koopman

Our second laureate is dr. Emy Koopman, who defended her dissertation Reading Suffering at the Erasmus University cum laude last year

Emy Koopman is granted the OSL Award for her article ‘Effects of “Literariness” on Emotions and on Empathy and Reflection after Reading’, which appeared in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts in 2016 (and her first novel Orewoet also appeared in 2016, so it was a very prolific year indeed for Emy).

Koopman’s study tackles one of the perennial questions in Literary Studies, namely whether reading literary texts can make people more empathic. Koopman approach this issue in an experiment in which 142 participants who were asked to read different versions of an excerpt from a novel about the loss of a child.  The versions differed with regard to their foregrounding of semantic, phonetic and grammatical features of the text (in one version of the text imagery/metaphors were edited out, in another version all elements of ‘literariness’ were removed).

Koopman’s quantitative and qualitative analysis showed that foregrounding had “a significant and robust effect on empathic understanding”, on the basis of the measures that Koopman used. The results also provided evidence that foreground, somewhat surprisingly, did not significantly affect reflection (which has been claimed before by several researchers, without sufficient empirical evidence).

The jury was impressed by the clear focus and careful set-up of Koopman’s experiment and her analysis. It noticed that she refrains from sweeping statements and freewheeling speculation and is very precise in what her research demonstrates and what it does not. Koopman has drawn her own methodological conclusions from what she sees as shortcomings in previous research in the field (for instance studies by Kidd & Castano) and opens up perspectives for the integration of philosophical, hermeneutic and empirical research. Last but not least, her work provides tentative but solid evidence for the claim that, under certain conditions, literary language can indeed enhance empathy.

OSL statement vrijheid van onderzoek

Wij, de ondertekenende leden van de landelijke Onderzoekschool literatuurwetenschap (OSL/Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies), ondersteunen de opvattingen van de landelijke en interdisciplinaire ‘Rethink’-beweging over academische vrijheid en benadrukken de volgende principes en eisen:

We, the undersigned members of the national research school OSL (Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies), support the views of the national and interdisciplinary ‘Rethink’ movement on academic freedom and emphasise the following principles and demands:

  1. Wetenschappers bepalen zelf de prioriteiten van hun onderzoek, niet de (semi-) overheid. De Nationale Wetenschapsagenda betekent een ontoelaatbare instrumentalisering en nationalisering van wetenschappelijk onderzoek.

Not the (semi)government but scholars themselves decide the priorities of their research. De Nationale Wetenschapsagenda represents an unacceptable instrumentalisation and nationalisation of academic research.

  1. NWO moet substantiële mogelijkheden blijven bieden voor de financiering van cultureel onderzoek dat hermeneutisch, interpretatief, analytisch, theoretisch, kritisch en/of conceptueel van aard is.

NWO must continue to offer substantial opportunities for funding cultural research that is hermeneutic, interpretative, analytical, theoretical, critical and/or conceptual in scope.

  1. De focus op ‘valorisatie’ dreigt fundamenteel onderzoek tot kortzichtig maatschappelijk en commercieel nut te versmallen. Economische valorisatie behoort geen rol te spelen in de beoordeling van wetenschappelijk onderzoek.

The focus on ‘valorisation’ threatens to narrow down fundamental research to myopic social and commercial use. Economic valorisation should not play a role in the assessment of scholarship.

  1. Het onderwijs aan onderzoeksmasterstudenten en promovendi is gericht op de ontwikkeling van zelfstandige onderzoekers. Het onderwijs aan onderzoeksmasterstudenten en promovendi wordt verzorgd door gepromoveerde academici, niet door coaches en consultants. Het onderwijs aan onderzoeksmasterstudenten en promovendi mag niet verschoolsen en ‘HBO-iseren’.

The goal of teaching research master and PhD students is the development of independent researchers. Such teaching should be offered by scholars, not professional coaches and consultants. The education of research master and PhD students should not be reduced to ‘didactic’ and ‘vocational’ training.

  1. Promovendi worden in staat gesteld zelfstandig hun onderzoeksvoorstellen te formuleren. Er moet een jaarlijkse open call voor promotieplaatsen plaatsvinden, te financieren uit de eerste geldstroom. De selectie, specialisatie en ontwikkeling van toekomstige geesteswetenschappers mogen niet uitbesteed worden aan de (semi-)overheid (NWO) en commerciële partners (matching).

Prospective PhD students should be encouraged to formulate their own research proposals. There should be yearly open calls for PhD fellowships, financed through direct government funding. The selection, specialisation, and development of future humanities scholars should not be outsourced to the (semi)government (NWO) and commercial partners (matching).

  1. Wetenschappelijke en commerciële belangen mogen niet met elkaar vermengd worden. Het Topsectorenbeleid moet beëindigd worden.

Scholarly and commercial interests should not be mingled. The Topsectorenbeleid must be ended.

To co-sign, please email your name, position and affiliation to oslstatement@gmail.com

  1. Geert Buelens, hoogleraar Moderne Nederlandse letterkunde, Universiteit Utrecht
  2. Henk van der Liet, hoogleraar Scandinavische taal- en letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  3. Brigitte Adriaensen, UHD Spaanse en Spaans-Amerikaanse letterkunde en cultuur, Radboud Universiteit
  4. Liesbeth Korthals Altes, hoogleraar Literatuurwetenschap, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  5. Diederik Oostdijk, hoogleraar Engelstalige letterkunde, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  6. Helma van Lierop, hoogleraar Jeugdliteratuur, Universiteit van Tilburg
  7. Ellen Rutten, hoogleraar Letterkunde (in het bijzonder Slavische literatuur en cultuur), Universiteit van Amsterdam
  8. Stephan Besser, UD Moderne Nederlandse letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  9. Puck Wildschut, PhD Researcher Literary Studies, RU Nijmegen
  10. Dan Hassler-Forest, UD Engelse letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  11. Lisa van Vark, studente RMA Comparative Literary Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
  12. Zosha de Rond, student RMA Nederlandse letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  13. Vincent Meelberg, UD, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
  14. Janneke van der Veer, promovendus Cultuurwetenschappen, Open Universiteit
  15. Liedeke Plate, UHD Genderstudies en Literatuur- en cultuurwetenschap, Radboud Universiteit
  16. Kila van der Starre, PhD onderzoeker Moderne Nederlandse Letterkunde, Universiteit Utrecht
  17. Els Andringa, Comparative Literature, Universiteit Utrecht
  18. Aukje van Rooden, UD Filosofie van kunst en cultuur, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  19. Astrid Van Weyenberg, Lecturer Literary Studies, Leiden University
  20. Tessa Lobbes, postdoc Moderne Nederlandse Letterkunde, Universiteit Utrecht
  21. Paul Pelckmans, hoogleraar Franse en Algemene Literatuur, Universiteit Antwerpen
  22. Barnita Bagchi, Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature, Utrecht University
  23. Lizet Duyvendak,  UHD Letterkunde, Open Universiteit
  24. David Pascoe, hoogleraar Moderne Engelse Literatuur en Cultuur, Universiteit Utrecht
  25. Gerda van de Haar, promovendus Letteren, Universiteit Leiden
  26. Ortwin de Graef, Literary Studies, University of Leuven
  27. Ryanne Keltjens, promovenda Moderne Nederlandse letterkunde, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  28. Joost de Bloois, Universitair Docent, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  29. Johan Reijmerink, promovendus, Universiteit Tilburg
  30. Reindert Dhondt, UD Spaanse en Spaans-Amerikaanse letterkunde en cultuur, Universiteit Utrecht
  31. Karel Porteman, emeritus, KU Leuven
  32. Sjef Houppermans, UHD Franse literatuur, Universiteit Leiden
  33. Carl Niekerk, Professor of German, Comparative and World Literature, and Jewish Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  34. Frank Brandsma, Associate professor Comparative Literature, Utrecht University
  35. Rudolph Glitz, UD English Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Amsterdam
  36. Thomas Langerak, hoofddocent Russische letterkunde, Universiteit Gent
  37. Luz Rodríguez Carranza, hoogleraar Latijns-Amerikaanse Talen en Literatuur, Universiteit Leiden
  38. Martijn Boven, promovendus, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  39. Kim Jautze, promovendus, Huygens ING
  40. Lia van Gemert, Professor of Dutch Literature prior to 1800, University of Amsterdam
  41. Rasmus Todbjerg Andersen, Research master student, Leiden University
  42. Ewout van der Knaap, UHD Duitse letterkunde, Universiteit Utrecht
  43. Suze van der Poll, UD Scandinavische talen, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  44. Manet van Montfrans-van Oers, onderzoeker Moderne Europese Letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  45. Lies Wesseling, hoogleraar, directeur Centre for Gender and Diversity, Universiteit Maastricht
  46. Mathilde Roza, UHD Amerikaanse letterkunde en Amerikanistiek, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
  47. Chiel Kattenbelt, UHD, Universiteit Utrecht
  48. C.S. Jongeneel, University of Groningen
  49. Eline Tabak, student RMA Comparative Literary Studies, Utrecht University
  50. Pablo Decock, UD Spaanse en Spaans-Amerikaanse letterkunde en cultuur, Radboud Universiteit
  51. Marita Mathijsen, emeritus hoogleraar Moderne Nederlandse Letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  52. Pablo Valdivia, UD in Hispanic Literature, University of Amsterdam
  53. John Neubauer, Professor Emeritus Comparative Literature, University of Amsterdam
  54. Kevin Absillis, Department of Literature, University of Antwerp
  55. Reinier M. Speelman, UD TLC/Italiaans, Universiteit Utrecht
  56. Peter Eversmann, UHD Theaterwetenschap, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  57. Sophie van den Bergh, student RMA Literary Studies, Leiden University
  58. Jan Rock, UD Moderne Nederlandse letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  59. Ieme van der Poel, hoogleraar Franse letterkunde, emeritus, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  60. Geert Claassens, hoogleraar Middelnederlandse letterkunde, KU Leuven
  61. Birgit Kaiser, UD Comparative Literature, Universiteit Utrecht
  62. Joost Krijnen, Docent American Studies, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  63. Marleen Rensen, Assistant Professor Modern European Literature, University of Amsterdam
  64. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, Professor of Literature and Comparative Media, Utrecht University
  65. Leo H. Hoek, emeritus hoogleraar Franse Letterkunde, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  66. Nike van Helden, buitenpromovendus letterkunde, LUCAS, Universiteit Leiden
  67. Marjolein van Tooren, UD Moderne Letterkunde, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  68. Tomas Curran, student RMA Literary Studies, Leiden University
  69. Helleke van den Braber, UD Cultuurwetenschap, Radboud Universiteit
  70. Marrigje Paijmans, promovendus en docent, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  71. Maria Boletsi, UD Literatuurwetenschap, Universiteit Leiden
  72. Anniek Kool, junior docent Vertalen en Vertaalwetenschap, Universiteit Utrecht
  73. Emy Koopman, promovenda aan de afdeling Media & Communicatie, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
  74. Markha Valenta, UD American Studies, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
  75. Klaas Fraanje, student Master literatuurwetenschap, Universiteit Utrecht
  76. Femke Essink, promovendus en docent, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  77. Ben De Bruyn, UHD vergelijkende letterkunde, Universiteit Maastricht
  78. Tycho Maas, PhD student Letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam / Universiteit Stellenbosch
  79. Carlos van Tongeren, promovendus Spaanstalige letterkunde, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
  80. Paul Bijl, Assistant professor, UvA and affiliated fellow at KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies