Lecture – Neil ten Kortenaar (University of Toronto)

Nigerian Writers Imagine the State at Independence

6 June 2018 – 16.00-18.00
Universiteit Utrecht
Kromme Nieuwegracht 80 – Ravensteijnzaal

African literature (novels, plays, and poetry written in English) was largely the creation of young men who came of age and began their writing careers at the same moment that they became citizens of newly independent nation-states. Just as the novel appeared at midcentury to be the epitome of literature, the modern state was the inevitable setting of all modern politics, but Africans, new to both, could not take either for granted. African fiction differed from European and other fiction in that it could not accept the state as inevitable, did not assume that characters were sovereign citizens with rights, and questioned the nature of the rule of law imposed by the state. The modern sovereign state felt less than obvious to Africans because it was continuous with the colony: at decolonization self-determination was accorded to the colonial territory, never to the precolonial polity, the ethnic nation, or the continental federation. The same state that had ruled people was now expected to be a forum for people to rule themselves. But what does the word “rule” mean when the ruled become the rulers but still feel conscious that rule comes from above? I will read Nigerian novels just before and after independence as political allegories of the state.

Neil ten Kortenaar is professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Self, Nation, Text in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (2004) and of Postcolonial Literature and the Impact of Literacy (2011) and has published widely on African, Caribbean, and South Asian literature. He is the former director of the Centre for Comparative Literature.

The lecture is made possible by Neil ten Kortenaar’s KNAW visiting professorship.
More information: A.Rigney@uu.nl

Masterclass with prof. Rita Felski – “Comparison and (Post)critique. Method and Engagement in Literary Studies”

Date: Friday, June 8, 2018
Location: University of Groningen, location TBA
For: PhD candidates and RMA students (OSL members have first access; limited to 15 participants).
Organisation: Jesse van Amelsvoort and Ruby de Vos (University of Groningen)
Credits: 1 EC

Ever since Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Bruno Latour forcefully have called into question the dominance of established modes of critique, there has been debate among literary and cultural scholars on the meaning and orientation of reading and critique. In recent years, Rita Felski’s work in Uses of Literature (2008) and The Limits of Critique (2015) has been at the centre of these discussions. The purpose of this master class is to think about the future of critique, criticism and reading in our own academic work, and to ask how these new avenues of thought and practice might be put to work for societal engagement and valorisation.

In an academic and societal environment that seems increasingly geared towards a (social) scientific understanding of methods and methodology, literary scholar can find it difficult to legitimate how they ‘do’ their discipline. Arguments grounded in established practices of critique do not always make for an easy fit with the general public’s knowledge and expectations. Consequently, humanities voices are disappearing from public debates, problematically creating the image of intellectual poverty and social uselessness. Therefore, this master class will ask whether and to what extent new, postcritical methods might create new possibilities for engagement with the public beyond the walls of the academy.

The master class aims not only to facilitate interaction and dialogue among the participants, but also explicitly encourages them to actively search for new ways of reading and criticism and include them in their research projects.


  • To think about methods, especially what is usually referred to as ‘reading’, in literary and cultural studies research;
  • To think more specifically about the relevance of critique and postcritique;
  • To create and foster a community of RMa and PhD students who are interested in participating in and furthering methodological discussions within literary studies.

Application and preparation

Aspiring participants apply by submitting a half page letter of motivation, which includes a description of their research project or interests, the role that matters of critique play in their research and 2-3 questions or points they would like to discuss during the master class. These questions will be send to Professor Felski as points of reference for her short workshop lecture and interaction with the participants. In response to the questions, Professor Felski will set around 60-80 pages of assigned readings for the participants, who are required to have read these before coming to the master class. Send your application to Ruby de Vos / r.e.de.vos@rug.nl and CC OSL-fgw@uva.nl by April 15, 2018 (subject: Master class Felski). For questions about the event please contact Ruby de Vos (r.e.de.vos@rug.nl).

Set-up and schedule*

The day starts with a public lecture (11-13 hrs, to be confirmed) by Rita Felski, attendance of which is required for the participants of the master class. After lunch, the participants convene to prepare the workshop and take stock of their questions. At 15:00, Rita Felski joins the group for a brief lecture and discussion of the questions and assigned readings.

11.15- Registration
Location: in front of the Heymanszaal, Academy Building

11:30–13:00 – “Hooked: Art and Attachment” – lecture by Professor Rita Felski
Location: Heymanszaal, Academy Building

13:00–14:00 – Lunch
Location: Engelse Zaal, Academy Building

14:00–14:50 – Masterclass introduction
Location: 1124.130, Oude Boteringestraat 38

14:50–15:00 – Coffee break
15:00-17:00 – Short lecture by Rita Felski + discussion

*schedule might be subject to change

“This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 645666”.


Hermes 2018 Summer School: Vulnerability

Hermes 2018 Summer School
University College London

For OSL PhD-candidates

18-22 June 2018
Italian Institute of Germanic Studies
Villa Sciarra-Wurts, Rome, Italy

Call for papers: Hermes 2018 Rome CfP

Invited Speakers
  • Giandomenico Iannetti (University College London)
  • Katherine Ibbett (University of Oxford)
  • Peter Leary (University College London)
  • Timothy Mathews (University College London)
  • Simona Micali (University of Siena)
  • Baldassare Pastore (University of Ferrara)
  • Ellen Sapega (University of Wisconsin-Madison) – tbc
General Information

University College London (UCL) is proud to be a founding member of the Hermes Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies, a long-standing collaboration of eleven doctoral schools in Belgium, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, France, and the USA, with a proven record of international excellence in the field of Comparative Literary Studies. The Consortium’s annual summer school, hosted in turn by each partner institution, brings together specialists, delegates from the partner universities and 22 PhD students (two per university). Intensive training workshops and work-in-progress presentations focus on shared methodologies and themes and lead to the publication of an annual edited volume, published by UCL Press in the Comparative Literature and Culture series, co-edited by Prof. Timothy Mathews and Dr Florian Mussgnug. The 2018 edition of Hermes, jointly hosted by UCL and the Italian Institute of Germanic Studies in Rome [Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici], will take its timely topic from the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) ongoing research initiative for 2017-18: “Vulnerability”. We will explore the intrinsic ambivalence of this concept, which suggests both fragility and openness, and will pay attention to narratives of vulnerability but also to the ways in which texts and traditions may become vulnerable: to loss, censorship, editorial intervention, or interpretation. We will engage with shifting historical contexts and approach comparative studies as an opening to other fields of disciplinary inquiry, including neuroscience, which provides new perspectives on human perception and defence behaviour. Our philosophical and juridical understanding of vulnerability will be further advanced by the contribution of PRIN 2015 “Legal Entity and Vulnerability”, a large collaborative research initiative funded by the National Research Council of Italy.

Hermes aims to expand internationally collaborative research and research-based learning, and promotes international mobility and collaboration across Europe. Our summer school thus embraces the aims of the newly established UCL Rome Regional Partnership Fund, which facilitates and supports academic collaboration between UCL and institutional partners in Central Italy. We are delighted that this year’s summer school will be hosted in Rome and welcome this opportunity to open the Hermes network to the Italian doctoral schools associated with the Italian Institute of Germanic Studies.

Call for Contributions

Vulnerability, from the Latin vulnus (‘wound’), signifies a susceptibility to being wounded. It suggests both fragility and openness, and it is this ambivalence that we wish to explore.

Thinking about vulnerability often raises questions which are political and ethical in nature: who or what is vulnerable? What reactions does vulnerability provoke? What forms of responsibility does vulnerability entail? Vulnerability has been argued to be a defining characteristic of the human condition. The American philosopher Daniel Callahan writes that “we are as human beings intrinsically vulnerable. We are vulnerable to time and nature […] and we are vulnerable to each other”. Yet these vulnerabilities are shared not only by humans but also, for instance, by non-human animals. Indeed, the recognition that animals, too, are vulnerable is a key argument in animal rights. To recall a much-quoted phrase from Jeremy Bentham: “the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

In literary studies, vulnerability can be approached from a number of different angles. It may concern characters and situations, and encourage us to reconsider literary expressions of suffering and woundedness on the level of plot, theme, and characterization. Then again, texts themselves may also be vulnerable: to loss, censorship, editorial intervention, or interpretation. How is a text made vulnerable by its readers and how are readers made vulnerable by certain texts?

In the context of this conference we want to explore the specific contributions that comparative literature can make to vulnerability studies. A comparative approach encourages us to consider whether vulnerability has a distinct form in literature from different times and different places. It also benefits from a recognition of the importance of other disciplines — philosophy, psychoanalysis, neuroscience inter alia — in understanding discourses of vulnerability. Finally, we propose that comparative literature might itself be understood to be defined by its own vulnerability, in the two senses of the term introduced earlier: fragility and openness. Like comparative literature, vulnerability is at heart a mode and form of relationality.

We welcome abstracts (150 words) related — but not limited — to the areas listed below. Each speaker will be allocated 20 minutes to give their paper. In addition to presenting on their own work and areas of expertise, speakers may wish in their papers to reflect on methodological questions raised by the general topic of vulnerability.

  • Figurations of vulnerability, in literature, art, humanitarian discourse, politics and poetics
  • The constitution/construction and representation of vulnerable subjects and groups, regions, languages, populations or communities
  • The vulnerability of text(s) and writing
  • The instrumentalizations of vulnerability in human rights discourse, humanitarian studies, refugee studies, public policy and politics
  • Vulnerability and victimhood: ethics, values, agency and moral judgement
  • Vulnerability and violence: epistemic, actual and strategic
  • The relationship of ‘vulnerability’ to ‘precarity’, ‘fragility’ or ‘risk’
  • Vulnerable forms: genres, mediums, practices, objects, structures, materials, modes of being, life-worlds
  • The gendering/ageing/sexing of vulnerability: vulnerability and intersectionality
  • Vulnerability and visibility, vulnerability and difference, vulnerability as image
  • Vulnerability and the law, discourses of protection, care and control, compassion and support
  • Vulnerability, performance and performativity
  • Vulnerability and power, vulnerability and strength/resilience
  • Comparative literature as a vulnerable discipline

Abstracts of no more than 150 words, accompanied by a short biographical presentation of similar length should be submitted by email to j. rushworth@ucl.ac.uk [and OSL-fgw@uva.nl] by Monday, 5th March 2018.

Practical Information

Accommodation for delegates, speakers and student participants will be provided for four nights (18th June to 22nd June 2018) at Villa Maria Guest House, in the immediate proximity of Villa Sciarra-Wurts and within easy walking distance from the vibrant neighbourhood of Trastevere and the historical centre of Rome. Students will be hosted in shared double rooms with en suite bathrooms.

A conference fee of EUR 270.00 per participant, to be paid to the organisers on arrival, will include participation, accommodation, lunch on four days, conference dinner, and a guided walking tour of Rome.

Participants are requested to make their own travel arrangements. Please see here information on how to reach Villa Maria Guest House. In case of dietary or other special needs, please contact the organisers at your earliest convenience, at f.mussgnug@ucl.ac.uk

Organising Committee
  • Florian Mussgnug (UCL)
  • Jennifer Rushworth (UCL)
  • Roberta Ascarelli (IIGS)
  • Lucia Corso (Enna)
  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities, UCL
  • PRIN “Legal Entity and Vulnerability”
  • University of Enna Kore
  • Italian Institute of Germanic Studies



Conference – Achter de verhalen: De terugkeer van de geschiedenis

Op 18, 19 en 20 april organiseert de Universiteit Antwerpen het tweejaarlijke congres Achter de verhalen. Thema van deze editie is De terugkeer van de geschiedenis. Het volledige programma is te raadplegen op de website van het congres.

Keynote speakers

Prof. dr. Geert Buelens (UUtrecht)
Prof. dr. Stéphanie Vanasten (UCLouvain)
Prof. dr. Jacqueline Bel (VUAmsterdam)
Prof. dr. Dirk De Geest (KULeuven)
Prof. dr. Bruno De Wever (UGent)
Dr. Esther op de Beeck & Dr. Bram Ieven (ULeiden)


Registreren voor deelname aan het congres kan tot 3 april via deze link.
Voor meer info kunt u mailen naar achterdeverhalen@uantwerpen.be.

Met de medewerking van

Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap
Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen
Stad Antwerpen
Universiteit Antwerpen

Conference – Anderswo im Anderswann: Autofiktion als Utopie (March 21-23, 2018)

Date: March 21-23, 2018

Location: Tagungshotel Schloss, Gnadenthal, Kleve

Organizaton: dr. Yvonne Delhey (Radboud Universiteit), prof. dr. Rolf Parr (Universität Duisburg-Essen), dr. Kerstin Wilhelms (Universität Münster)

Utopie – Thomas Morus dachte sie sich vor 500 Jahren als Insel – die Insel als ein Gegenentwurf zur Gesellschaft. Bei Morus ist sie eine ideale, konfliktfreie Welt, während Gilles Deleuze sie sich, Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts, eher als einen wüsten Ort vorstellte – allein schon deshalb, weil sie von der übrigen Welt abgesondert ist. Utopie [gr. οὐ und τόπος, ‘nicht’, ‘Ort’], der Nicht-Ort. Michel Foucault, Zeitgenosse Deleuzes, stellt in seinen Überlegungen zu ‘anderen Räumen’ den Gegenwartsbezug der Utopie heraus, was ihn dann konsequenterweise zur Formulierung der Heterotopien bringt. Es ist dieses kritische Potenzial der Utopie, das Denker wie Jean Jacques Rousseau oder Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels nutzten, um die literarische Gattung der utopischen Erzählungen stärker politisch auszurichten. Karl Mannheim brachte es auf den Satz: “Utopisch ist ein Bewußtsein, das sich mit dem es umgebenden ‘Sein’ nicht in Deckung befindet”. Damit beginnt im Grunde das Ende der Verzeitlichung der Utopie, wie sie am Beginn der Moderne mit Romanen wie ‘Das Jahr 2240’ (1771) von Louis-Sébastian Mercier aufkamen. Die aktuelle Utopieforschung hat sich schon lange von idealisierten Zukunftsvisionen verabschiedet und diskutiert Utopie (u.a.) als ‚Impuls’, ‚Methode’ oder ‚Bewusstsein’. Wie aber muss man sich ein solches Bewusstsein, das sich nicht in Deckung mit dem Realen befinden will, vorstellen? Wie entwirft es sich selbst, wie inszeniert es sich, wie stellt es sich dar? An dieser Stelle berühren sich Utopie- und Autobiographieforschung.

Mit dem Fokus auf die Utopie kommt das Imaginäre, Visuelle und Fantastische in den Blick, dass die Autobiographie von der Autofiktion unterscheidet. ‘Autofiktion’ adressiert im Gegensatz zur an Authentizität und Wahrhaftigkeit ausgerichteten Auffassung von Autobiographie das fiktionale Moment literarischer Selbstentwürfe: “Fiktion strikt realer Ereignisse und Fakten”, so definierte Serge Doubrovsky den Begriff, der sich inzwischen in der aktuellen Autobiographiedebatte etabliert hat. Entscheidend für die Behandlung der Autobiographie als Utopie dürfte des Weiteren die Konstitution des Ichs im Medium sein. Die neuere Autobiographieforschung hat dafür den Begriff der ‘Automedialität’ geprägt. Mit diesem Begriff wird der Fokus auf die mediale Begründung des Selbstentwurfs gelegt, der zwar zumeist, aber keinesfalls ausschließlich, im Medium der Schrift vollzogen wird. Dabei sind die verschiedenen Medien Grundlage unterschiedlicher autobiographischer – oder besser noch: autofiktionaler – Artikulationsmodi, die jeweils unterschiedlich geformte Selbstbilder hervorbringen. Die Tagung fragt vornehmlich nach dem Utopischen dieses autofiktionalen Selbstentwurfs und möchte damit Licht werfen auf das Imaginäre, das Fantastische aber auch auf die gesellschaftskritischen Gegenwartsbezüge des Selbstentwurfs.


MITTWOCH, 21.03.2018
12.00 Uhr       Ankunft in Gnadenthal
13.00 Uhr        Mittagessen
14.00 Uhr        Begrüßung und Einführung (Y. Delhey, R. Parr, K. Wilhelms)

Utopische Autofiktionen
14.15 Uhr        Christian Sieg (Münster) Schamfreiheit und Aufrichtigkeit. Zu einer utopischen Figur und operativen Fiktion autobiografischen Schreibens von Johann Casper Lavater bis Bernward Vesper
15.00 Uhr        Zoya Brumberg (Texas) Looking Forward: On Socialism and its Aesthetic Discontents

15.45 Uhr        Kaffeepause

Utopische Autorfiktionen
16.15 Uhr        Franziska Mader (Frankfurt/M): „Ich bin ja nicht Hesse, sondern war Sinclair“ – Das Heteronym als utopische Auto(r)fiktion
17.00 Uhr        Sandie Attia (La Réunion): „In den Gedichten verstecke ich mich“: Günter Eichs poetische Selbstentwürfe

DONNERSTAG, 22.03.2018

Utopische Zeit/Räume in der Autofiktion
09.30 Uhr       Kerstin Wilhelms (Münster): Childhood as Utopia. Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak Memory
10.15 Uhr        Barbara Winckler (Münster): Utopia – Heterotopia – Writing- Between-Worlds: Physical and Metaphorical Spaces and Dynamics in Zeina Abirached’s Autofictional Graphic Novels
11.00 Uhr        Kaffeepause
11.30 Uhr        Rolf  Parr (Duisburg-Essen): Utopische und autofiktionale Elemente in Texten der 68er-Schriftsteller: Uwe Timm, Peter Paul Zahl, Friedrich Christian Delius
12.15 Uhr        Lena Crucitti (Brüssel): In a „cosy state of  suspension“: Nostalgia as a lethal utopian space in Kazuo Ishiguro‘s Never Let Me Go (2005)
13.00 Uhr       Mittagspause

Das Utopische des autofiktionalen Körpers
15.00 Uhr        Marcella Fassio (Oldenburg):  „[…] dem eigenen Leben wie einem Roman zu Leibe zu rücken […]Autopathographisches Schreiben als utopischer Selbst-Entwurf  in Wolfgang Herrndorfs Blog Arbeit und Struktur
15.45 Uhr        Steffie Pragt (Nijmegen): Transgressing Bodies – The Female Body and Environment in Feminist Dystopia
16.30 Uhr        Kaffeepause
17.00 Uhr        Christian Moser (Bonn): Nostalgie und Utopie in den autobiographischen Texten Jean-Jacques Rousseaus

FREITAG, 23.03.2018

Autofiktionales Theater und Utopie
09.30 Uhr        Eva Stubenrauch (Bonn): „Zugleich Chronist und Utopiker“ – Milo Raus Globaler Realismus als poetologischer Selbstentwurf
10.15 Uhr        Yvonne Delhey (Nijmegen): Provokation als Kunst: Jonathan Meese und die Oper Mondparsifal
11.00 Uhr        Kaffeepause

Automedialität und Utopie
11.30 Uhr        Tobias Schwessinger (Jena): „Ich bin das andere, das mich bewohnt.“ Foto-lyrische Selbstentwürfe einer Kindheit zwischen
Autofiktion und Utopie
12.15 Uhr        Ingrid Bertrand (Brüssel): Anytime but Now, Anywhere but Here: The Future and Past as Subversive Counter-Utopias in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and its 2016 television adaptation
13.00 Uhr        Mittagspause
14.00 Uhr        Ricarda Menn (Frankfurt/M): Elsewhere yet Nowhere – John  Burnside’s Autofictions
14.45 Uhr        Abschlussdiskussion: Ausblick und Perspektiven
15.00 Uhr        Kaffeepause

16.00 Uhr        Abreise

No conference fee; please contact the organisers if you want to participate. For accommodation please contact the Tagungshotel.

Contact: dr. Yvonne Delhey (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen; y.delhey@let.ru.nl); prof. dr. Rolf Parr (Universität Duisburg-Essen; rolf.parr@uni-due.de); dr. Kerstin Wilhelms Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster; k.wilhelms@uni-muenster.de).

Venue: Tagungshotel Schloss Gnadenthal, Gnadenthal 8, 47533 Kleve, phone. 02821-29080, email: schloss@gnadenthal.de; http://www.gnadenthal.com/

Workshop ‘Literature, fieldwork, and the social sciences’

13-14 March 2018
Maastricht University
Grote Gracht 80-82 (Soiron building), Spiegelzaal (first floor)

Credit for RMA students: 1 EC


Please, register by February 25, 2018, by sending your name, affiliation and day(s) you will attend to secr.hislk@maastrichtuniversity.nl with the subject Workshop March.


Bringing together an international group of specialists, this workshop reflects on the role of literary and cultural studies in the contemporary humanities and on potential collaborations with colleagues from the social sciences who use qualitative methods like interviewing and fieldwork. This is a timely topic, as is shown by special issues devoted to ‘description across disciplines’ and ‘postcritique’ (Representations, 2016; PMLA, 2017) as well as by recent publications of scholars like Amy Hungerford, Margaret Mackey, Shalini Puri, Heather Love, Rita Felski, Ivan Jablonka and many others. These articles and research projects are different in various ways, but they share the ambition to develop new paths for literary studies with the help of insights from the social sciences, to develop future forms of ‘fieldwork’, broadly construed. Our workshop aims to map these new paths and set the agenda for new collaborations between literature, literary studies, and the social sciences. We would like to tackle questions like the following: what role does literary studies play in the contemporary humanities? Which insights from the social sciences can help us to rethink contemporary literature and literary studies? What themes, methods, and histories connect literary studies and the social sciences? How have novelists and other writers picked up on these ideas, and used/criticized them? How does a social sciences approach to novels, poems, and other cultural artifacts differ from a literary approach, and how can they enrich each other?


Tuesday 12 March 2018

11.00 welcome by the organizers
11.15-12.30 Amy Hungerford
12.30-14.00 lunch
14.00-14.45 Aagje Swinnen
14.45-15.30 Miriam Meissner
15.30-16.00 break
16.00-17.00 Marco Caracciolo and Susannah Crockford
17.00-17.15 break
17.15-18.15 Odile Heynders

Wednesday 14 March 2018

10.00-11.15 Shalini Puri
11.15-11.30 break
11.30-12.15 Emilie Sitzia
12.15-13.45 lunch
13.45-14.30 Gaston Franssen
14.30-15.15 Leni Van Goidsenhoven
15.15-15.30 break
15.30-16.45 Margaret Mackey
16.45-17.00 break
17.00-18.00 Lies Wesseling


  • Amy Hungerford (Yale University) has recently published an important study of contemporary literature that combines traditional approaches with ethnographic techniques like interviewing and participant observation (Making Literature Now, Stanford, 2016). She is also Dean of the Humanities Division at Yale.
  • Margaret Mackey (University of Alberta) has published widely on the subject of young people’s reading. Her most recent work is an interdisciplinary ‘auto-bibliography’ that describes and explains her development as a reader from the 1950s onwards, combining insights from textual criticism, social analysis, and reading theory (One Child Reading, University of Alberta Press, 2016).
  • Shalini Puri (University of Pittsburgh) works on postcolonial theory and cultural studies of the global South, with a special focus on the Caribbean and on cultural practices related to the overlapping African and Asian diasporas. She has recently coedited Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities (Palgrave, 2016).
  • Marco Caracciolo (Ghent University) is lead researcher on an ERC starting grant project which brings together literary studies and narrative approaches in the social sciences to analyze how literary fiction as well as oral narratives by members of the public imagine relations between humans and nonhumans in the context of a global environmental crisis. His publications include Strange Narrators in Contemporary Fiction (University of Nebraska Press, 2016) and A Passion for Specificity: Confronting Inner Experience in Literature and Science (Ohio State UP, 2016).
  • Gaston Franssen (University of Amsterdam) is a literary scholar whose recent research examines celebrity culture, illness narratives, and therapeutic uses of fiction, paying special attention to how these social phenomena shape the selves of authors and readers. He recently co-edited Celebrity Authorship and Afterlives in English and American Literature (Palgrave, 2016).
  • Odile Heijnders (Tilburg University) studies contemporary literature in relation to theories of democracy, the public sphere, and the public intellectual. She is the author of Writers as Public Intellectuals: Literature, Celebrity, Democracy (Palgrave, 2015).
  • Leni Van Goidsenhoven (Leuven University) wrote her Phd on self-presentations of people living with autism in print and online (Autisme in veelvoud: het potentieel van life writing voor alternatieve vormen van subjectiviteit, 2017). Her work is situated at the intersection of literary and disability studies.
  • The scholars from Maastricht University who are involved in this workshop are affiliated with the interdisciplinary research program Arts, Media, and Culture (https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/arts-media-and-culture).

Registration and credits

Members of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap/OSL) are invited to participate in the workshop. OSL RMA students can acquire 1 ECTS by

  • Attending a workshop day of their choice,
  • Preparing questions for the speakers in relation to an 80-page-reader that will be send upon registration,
  • Write a 800-word response to one of the lectures after the workshop in light of the future of literary studies.

Please, register by February 25, 2018, by sending your name, affiliation and day(s) you will attend to secr.hislk@maastrichtuniversity.nl with the subject Workshop March.

Conference on Frisian Humanities

1st Conference on Frisian Humanities
23 – 26 April 2018


We’d like to invite you to our first Conference on Frisian Humanities, in the Municipal Theatre De Harmonie in Leeuwarden, from 23 till 26 April 2018, as part of the project Lân fan taal (Country of languages) of Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018. We’re happy to present you the preliminary program of the four symposia on the conference.

(Preview) program

In the four symposia – about Language and Linguistics, Literature, Medieval Frisia and Multilingualism – there will be about a hundred lectures!

A little preview of the lectures/speakers at the different topics:

  • Language and Linguistics (23 and 24 April) – Naomi Nagy (University of Toronto) – ‘Francoprovençal in Europa and North America: Vitality and Variability’; Peter Schrijver (Utrecht University) ‘The origins of the Frisian language: inheritance and contact’
  • Literature (23, 24 and 25 April) – Wilken Engelbrecht (Palacký University, Olomouc): ‘Fries en Friese literatuur vanuit een Centraal-Europees perspectief’ (Frisian and Frisian literature from a central European perspective); Goffe Jensma (University of Groningen): ‘Yntermedialiteit yn de Fryske poëzy, 1992-2017’ (Intermediality in the Frisian poetry, 1992-2017)
  • Medieval Frisia (23 and 24 April) – Helle Vogt (University of Copenhagen); Arnoud Jan Bijsterveld (Tilburg University)
  • Multilingualism (25 and 26 April) – Jim Cummins (University of Toronto); Itesh Sachdev (SOAS University of London): ‘Vitality of Urban Multilingualism: Towards a social psychological model’.

For the complete programs of the four symposia please visit: www.fryske-akademy.nl/frisianhumanities

Registration/Conference fee

Please visit www.frisianhumanities.nl for your registration.
The fee is € 80 per topic. The fee for the whole conference (2 symposia/ 4 days) is € 160. Students can register for 50%. The conference fee includes lunch, coffee and tea, and refreshments.


After your registration you will be informed about accommodation, with special rates at various choice hotels in Leeuwarden. Note that the number of rooms is limited, so our advice is to register for the conference as soon as possible, so that you can also book a room as soon as possible.

We are looking forward to the first Conference on Frisian Humanities and we hope to meet you at the end of April in Leeuwarden.

The Conference committee

Drs. Cor van der Meer (chair and session on Multilingualism)
Dr Eric Hoekstra (Literature)
Dr Han Nijdam (Medieval Frisia)
Dr Hans Van de Velde (Language and Linguistics)

More information/contact

info@frisianhumanities.nl or call +31 (0)58 20 45 200 (Congresbureau Friesland)

Utopia across Cultures: A Workshop

Date: 16 February 2018
Time: 10.00-16.00h
Venue: University Library – Vondelzaal, Singel 425
Open to: PhD candidates and RMa students; members of OSL will have first access
Lecturer: dr Barnita Bagchi, Utrecht University

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. We will discuss literary and critical texts by Octavia Butler, Salman Rushdie, Lyman Tower Sargent and others.

Ravenstein Seminar (Winter School 2018) – Literature, Affect and Emotion

Date: 24-26 January 2018
Venue: Jan 24 (RMa programme): University Library: Doelenzaal, Singel 425, Amsterdam; Jan 25 & 26: University Theater: room 3.01, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Amsterdam
Organisation: Kristine Steenbergh (VU Amsterdam), Sven Vitse (Utrecht University),  Kristine Johanson (University of Amsterdam), Andries Hiskes (Haagse Hogeschool & Leiden University)
Speakers: Eugenie Brinkema (MIT), Isobel Armstrong (Birbeck College), Alexa Weik von Mossner (University of Klagenfurt), Frans Willem Korsten (Leiden University), Hans Demeyer (UCL), Erin Sullivan (University of Birmingham) et al.
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa students; OSL members will have first access

THE SEMINAR IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to osl-fgw@uva.nl. We will put you on our waiting list.

The strong affects and emotions that literature can evoke, express and negotiate have always fascinated writers, philosophers and literary scholars. In this winter school we will explore various approaches and topics relating to the current ‘turn to affect’ and emotions in literary and cultural studies. We will discuss the role of emotions in early modern literary culture, probe various theories of affect (Deleuzian/Spinozist, ideological critique, aesthetic and formalist approaches) and their employment in the study of literature, and explore links with film studies and ecocriticism (the topic of the previous Ravenstein Seminar). We will be joined by a number of inspiring scholars in the field who will share their expertise and present current research projects. The purpose of the winter school is to give the participants a broad orientation in this fascinating, manifold and topical field of research, to provide them with specific insights into current debates and research practices, and to give them the opportunity to explore possible topics for research activities of their own.

Please find the full programme and all abstracts below. Please note that time might be subject to small changes.

Conference programme

Thursday, January 25, 2017 – 10:00-16:30
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, 3.01

10:00-10:15Opening and introduction
10:15-11:15Isobel Armstrong (Birbeck, University of London)
The Location of Affect
11:15-11:30Coffee break
11:30-12:30Eugenie Brinkema (MIT, Cambridge/MA)
Incremental Love
12:30-13:30Lunch break
13:30-14:15Frans Willem Korsten (Leiden University)
The analytical limits of affect, its unruly political implications and its practical force
14:15-14:30Coffee break
14:30-15:15Erin Sullivan (University of Birmingham)
Emotion and Affect in Pre-modernity (tbc)
15:15-15:45Roundtable on history of emotions vs. theory of affect with Erin Sullivan, Frans Willem Korsten, Kristine Johanson (University of Amsterdam), Kristine Steenbergh (Free University Amsterdam)
15:45-16:00Coffee break
16:00-16:45Emy Koopman (Amsterdam)
Literary Reflections on writing affect
18:00Conference Dinner (De Brakke Grond, Nes 43)

Friday, January 26, 2017 – 10:00-15:30

10:00-11:00Alexa Weik von Mossner (University of Klagenfurt) Speculative Emotions? The Affective Appeals of Eco(dys)topia
11:00-11:15Coffee break
11:15-12:15Hans Demeyer (University College London)
Affects of the Housing Crisis
12:15-13:15Lunch break
13:15-14:15Peer Review of participants research proposals (in groups)
14:15-15:00Andries Hiskes (Leiden University)
The Affective Affordances of Disability
15:00-15:30Wrapping up


Isobel Armstrong – ‘The Location of Affect’

This lecture takes up the marked turn to affect in our discipline by returning to some discussions in The Radical Aesthetic and reading these with another preoccupation, the way language, particularly poetic language, does not simply ‘express’ affect but makes affect structurally inherent in linguistic form. I consider a perlocutionary poetics derived from Austin and Cavell. A test case for this inherence is the caesura, a gap in the text that is nevertheless meaning-making and, I argue, affect-making. This theme is explored through Shelley, Browning, Yeats, and recent experimental women’s poetry.

Isobel Armstrong is Emeritus Professor of English (Geoffrey Tillotson Chair) at Birkbeck, University of London, Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies, a Fellow of the British Academy and Hon Foreign Scholar of the American Academy. Her Victorian Glassworlds. Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880 (2008) won the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize. Her interests encompass critical and aesthetic theory and feminist writing (see The Radical Aesthetic, 2000, and the Oxford Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Poetry, 1993) and nineteenth-century literature.  Het study Novel Politics. Democratic Imaginations in Nineteenth-Century Fiction was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

Eugenie Brinkema – ‘Incremental Love’

Michael Haneke’s film Amour (2012) is set in a single restricted location, the Parisian apartment in which a dying, suffering woman is being cared for by her husband. The film plots an obsessive formal language of spatial increments, organizing itself around minor but crucial distances across the geography of the home. Against and within this ordered relation of objects and space, extraordinary pain and terrible violence ultimately arrive. In this talk, I explore this interrelation to suggest that figures of entrance, distance, and spatial increments articulate a formalized ethics of care that is commuted over the course of the film to the paradoxical figure of an ethics of violence. Love—which absorbs within its affective extremity philosophical figures of completion, unity, fulfillment—is thereby radically altered. When read through the notion of discrete increment, an alternate tradition of the amative is opened up, one in which love names a brutal measurability of the world.

Eugenie Brinkema is Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature and Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her articles on film, violence, affect, and sexuality have appeared in the journals Angelaki, Camera Obscura, Criticism, differences, Discourse, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, qui parle, and World Picture. Her first book, The Forms of the Affects, was published with Duke University Press in 2014. Recent work includes a co-edited special issue of the Journal of Visual Culture on the design and componentry of horror, and an article on irrumation and the interrogatory in violent pornography in Polygraph. Her current book manuscript, Algebras of Sensation, explores the relationship of radical formalism to the affects of horror and love.

Hans Demeyer – ‘Affects of the Housing Crisis’

‘Everyone wants to go home. We don’t survive as nomads’ (David Nolens, Silence and Milk for Everyone). From the perspective of the housing crisis, my talk will focus on the relation between affect, space and economy. Making use of affect theories of Ahmed, Berlant, Lordon and Konings, it will concentrate on the issue of belonging in a context of permanent movement and displacement through raising rents and/or forced evictions, and on (melancholic) attachments to the promised redemptive qualities of debt and money. An analysis of the novel Moving Kings (2017) by Joshua Cohen will serve to illuminate different affective and economic investments in housing as both a home (a lived space) and as real estate (an instrument for profit making).

Andries Hiskes – ‘The Affective Affordances of Disability’

Through a comparative reading of two artworks, Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and Berlinde de Bruyckere’s ‘Into One-Another III To P.P.P.’, this lecture explores how reading for form matters in the way we read for and get affected by disability. Concurrently, it is explores how affect, conceived as a visceral force that moves through and impresses on bodies, is generated through the way in which disabled bodies are represented in art. Rather than reading disability as a ‘lack’, this lecture proposes that disabilities also have ‘affordances’; the potentiality and particularity of disability in how it evokes, and simultaneously can alter, affective responses.

Andries Hiskes is a literary theorist and scholar. He is employed as a lecturer and researcher at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, where he teaches courses in close-reading and qualitative research methodologies. He is a PhD candidate at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, where he works on the intersection between disability studies and affect theory. His research examines literature and art in which affective responses are evoked and/or shared by deviant and disabled bodies, focusing on how the artwork is constructed to elicit such responses. Concurrently, through the added emphasis on emotional and affective responses provoked by disabled bodies, his research explores how art may manipulate such responses.

Frans-Willem Korsten – ‘The analytical limits of affect, its unruly political implications and its practical force’

In this lecture, I will reflect on what provoked the interest again in affect, over the last three or four decades, and consider what has now clearly proven to be the analytical limits of the notion. Or to put this differently, after its refreshing entrance in the field of the humanities and the sciences alike, the use of this notion has become slightly repetitive; it appears to lack a potential for refreshing itself. Then I will move towards the unruliness of the notion in a political context. Those who have rushed to promote the notion, such as Sara Ahmed and Lauren Berlant, appear to have a blind spot for affect’s potential to be used by reactionary or totalitarian forces. Finally, I will consider what is the strongest potential of affect in the current scholarly situation, which is not theoretical, but practical in nature.

Frans-Willem Korsten holds the endowed chair ‘Literature and Society’ at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, is associate professor at the Film and Literary Studies department at LUCAS: the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, and at the Willem the Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, specifically the Piet Zwart Institute. He published Lessen in Literatuur (Lessons in Literature, 3rd edition 2009), Vondel belicht (2006), All inclusive (2007), Sovereignty as Inviolability (2009) and is co-editor of Joost van den Vondel: Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age (2012). His most recent book is entitled A Dutch Republican Baroque – Theatricality, Dramatization, Moment and Event (2017). He edited several special issues of volumes and journals and published widely on the period of the Baroque and issues of capitalism, law and justice. He was chair of the section Letters of the Dutch Council of Culture and was member of advisory committees in the Netherlands and Norway. Together with Yasco Horsman (Leiden University) and a number of PhD-students he is currently working on the role of literature and art at the limits of the law.

Erin Sullivan – ‘Emotion and Affect in Pre-Modernity’

This talk will offer an introduction to ideas about emotions – or the passions, as they were most commonly known – in the late medieval and early modern period. Looking at a number of literary, philosophical, medical, and religious sources, it will explore the unique positioning of the passions at the meeting point of the mind, body, and soul. It will also reflect in a wider way on the relationship between the history of the emotions and affect studies as highly related, but often separately practised, disciplines, as well as what this means for the understanding and study of impassioned experience in pre-modern times.

Dr Erin Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer and Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, where she researches the relations between emotion, culture, and identity – both in the past and today. Her publications include Beyond Melancholy: Sadness and Selfhood in Renaissance England, The Renaissance of Emotion: Understanding Affect in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (co-edited with Richard Meek), and several essays on emotion and early modern culture for Cultural History, Studies in Philology, Shakespeare Bulletin, and a number of edited collections.

Alexa Weik von Mossner – ‘Speculative Emotions? The Affective Appeals of Eco(dys)topia’

How do we feel about the speculative futures presented to us in eco(dys)topian literature and film? Are our emotions for characters and their future fates dependent on our own environments and contextual knowledge? And what are the personal and social implications of such emotional engagement? These are some of the questions that Alexa Weik von Mossner will address in her investigation of our embodied experience of speculative future environments. Her lecture will consider both dystopian modes of environmental storytelling that try to affect their audiences’ risk perceptions, and utopian narratives that aim to cue positive emotions such as hope and desire through the depiction of a better and more sustainable way of being. In doing so, she will pay particular attention to the thesis, forwarded by neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Vittorio Gallese, that our minds are both embodied (in a physical body) and embedded (in a physical environment), not only when we interact with the real world but also in our engagement with imaginary worlds. Considering a wide range of American cultural texts, Weik von Mossner will explore what ecotopian scenarios, and readers’ emotional responses to them, can contribute to political imaginations of ecological citizenship and environmental sustainability.

Alexa Weik von Mossner is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt. After working for several years in the German film and television industry, she earned her PhD in Literature at the University of California, San Diego in 2008 and her Habilitation at the University of Klagenfurt in 2016. She has published widely on cosmopolitanism and various ecocritical issues in American literature and film. Her current research explores the theoretical intersections of cognitive science, affective narratology and ecocriticism. She is the author of Cosmopolitan Minds: Literature, Emotion and the Transnational Imagination (U of Texas P, 2014) and Affective Ecologies: Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative (Ohio State UP, 2017), the editor of Moving Environments: Affect, Emotion, Ecology and Film (Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2014), and the co-editor of The Anticipation of Catastrophe: Environmental Risk in North American Literature and Culture (with Sylvia Mayer, Winter 2014).

Course – Computational Literary Studies