OSL PhD day: Making Stories Work

Date: 19 May 2022
Time: 10.00-18.00
Venue: Doelenzaal in the Amsterdam University Library (Singel 425)
ECTS: 1-2 EC. See below for more information on the readings and assignment
Open for: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access.
Registration is now open.

After the success of the first OSL PhD day last year, we are excited to announce that the upcoming OSL PhD day will take place on Thursday 19 May 2022. The day’s theme will be “Making Stories Work” and the keynote lecture will be given by Professor Clare Hemmings. After Hemmings’ lecture, the program will consist of two panels, each made up of three fifteen minute presentations on your work in progress. This means that six of you will have the opportunity to present. 

The first panel will loosely revolve around the question “How does literature work?” Issues related to this theme could include:

  • What work does literature do?
  • The mobilizing potential of literature
  • The ‘work’ of different genres
  • The world-changing potential of literature
  • The affective work of literature
  • The ways literature ‘works’ upon readers

The second panel will loosely revolve around the question “What work do we, literary scholars, do?” Issues related to this theme could include:

  • How do we work with different media?
  • How do we work with different methods?
  • How do we work within the institution of the university?
  • How do we work outside of it?
  • What happens when we have too much work/stop working/can’t work?

The PhD day will take place at the Doelenzaal in the Amsterdam University Library (Singel 425), from 10.00-18.00. The panels will be followed by drinks.

Keynote Prof. Clare Hemmings

The Genre of Inheritance: Dancing with Grandma

In this paper I combine extracts from my short story ‘Grandma Was a Dancer’ with critical reflection as a way of exploring the narrative features of the gendered and classed history I inherit. It is part of a larger project where I am working with my family’s ‘memory archive’ to tell stories about gender, class and national belonging. As many other authors have shown, a turn to family memoir and memory is one way of thinking at the margins about what disciplinary history obscures. It is a way of bringing new evidence to bear on both intimate experience and its importance for what we know about the past and present. My interest, following previous work on storytelling, is to challenge linear narratives of familial progress or loss, highlighting thatwhat is passed on is specific and multiple, contradictory and intersubjective. In piecing together my maternal grandma’s life, I have wanted to flesh out the significance of genre in the ways she told her own story, the embellishments my mum and my brother and I were bound to make. In pulling together a story arc for my maternal grandad, I work instead to compensate for stoic silence and the problem of representation in histories of masculinity. Throughout, I focus on the difference that storytelling genre makes both to how gender, class and nation are inherited, and to how we inhabit that inheritance in the present.


10:00-10:15 Welcome and introduction

10:15-11:30 Keynote lecture Clare Hemmings “The Genre of Inheritance: Dancing with Grandma” + Q&A

11:30-12:00 Break

12:00-13:30 Panel session 1: “How does literature work?”

  • Sofía Forchieri: “When Literature Turns Against Itself: The Work of Critique in
    Samanta Schweblin’s The Heavy Suitcase of Benavides”
  • Tashina Blom: “Protest Slogans Through The Ages: The Literary Analysis of
    Incendiary Rhetoric”
  • Andries Hiskes: “The Work of Literary Disruption: Seamlessness and Effort in
    Disability Narratives”
  • Q&A + panel discussion

13:30-14:30 Break

14:30-16:00 Panel session 2: “What work do we, literary scholars, do?”

  • Duygu Erbil: “Witnessing Academic Casualisation”
  • Sasha Richman: “Beyond text: James Alinder and Wright Morris’ photo-text
  • Carmen Verhoeven: “Working Stories: Work in Progress on the Workplace Novel
  • Q&A + panel discussion

16:00-16:15 Break

16:15-16:45 Roundtable

16:45-17:00 Closing remarks




Assignment for 1 EC:

  1. Read the text by Hemmings & listen to the podcast interview. Formulate a question that
    you could ask her in the Q&A session after the keynote lecture (i.e. formulate it so that
    you could actually ask it!) and send it to c.l.vlessing@uu.nl and kim.schoof@ou.nl.
  2. Make good notes during the PhD day and make sure to contribute a question or
    reflection to the roundtable discussion at the end of the day.
  3. Write a 500 word conference report, in which you a) reflect on what interested you most
    about Hemmings’ text, podcast interview & talk, and b) what you learned from one of two
    of the other talks with regard to the work that stories/literary scholars do.

Assignment for 2 EC:

  1. Read the text by Hemmings & listen to the podcast interview. Formulate a question that
    you could ask her in the Q&A session after the keynote lecture (i.e. formulate it so that
    you could actually ask it!) and send it to c.l.vlessing@uu.nl and kim.schoof@ou.nl.
  2. Make good notes during the PhD day and make sure to contribute a question or
    reflection to the roundtable discussion at the end of the day.
  3. Write a 2000 word essay, in which you a) reconstruct how Hemmings thinks about the
    work that stories do, b) discuss how one of the other PhD day speakers conceptualised
    the work of stories, and c) select a short story/novel of choice and analyse the work it
    does with the help of both Hemmings’ and the other speaker’s considerations

Public lectures Ravenstein Winter School: Literature, (Neo)liberalism, and Public Culture

19 – 21 January 20221 | University of Amsterdam

The keynotes during the Ravenstein Winter School: Literature, (Neo)liberalism, and Public Culture will be open to public. Please register for the individual keynotes via the links below.


Wednesday, 19 January 2022 | 19:00 – 20:15

Rachel Greenwald Smith (Saint Louis University)
Compromise: The Aesthetics of Liberalism and Liberal Aesthetic

Early in his political career, U.S. President Barack Obama made the following comparison between politics and aesthetics: “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence. Or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it.” This paper uses Obama’s analogy as a jumping off point for an inquiry into the aestheticization of politics in center-left discourse at the turn of the twenty-first century. What does it mean to say that political policy should resonate like a work of art? How does liberal aestheticization of politics differ or relate to the aestheticization of politics that Walter Benjamin famously connected to fascism? And what can an examination of contemporary literary aesthetics contribute to an understanding of the aesthetics of contemporary liberalism?

Rachel Greenwald Smith is an Associate Professor of English at Saint Louis University. She is the author of On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal (Graywolf Press, 2021) and Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She has edited two volumes of scholarship: American Literature in Transition: 2000-2010 (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture, with Mitchum Huehls (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). Her works has appeared in American Literature, Post45, The Yale Review, VQR, Mediations, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and elsewhere.

Register here

Thursday, 20 January 2022 | 13:15 – 14:30    

Pieter Vermeulen (KU Leuven)
Swarms, Trees, Fungi, Markets, and Other Fictions of Spontaneous Order

Since the turn of the millennium, materialist and ecological strands of critical thought have complemented the decentering of the human subject that was dominant in poststructuralism with an increasing attention to the material realities of nonhuman assemblages. In the fields of theory, art, and literature, assemblages such as swarms, networks, trees, and fungi have inspired formal innovation and ethico-political reflection. Still, while critical scholarship has begun to argue that the poststructuralist decentering of the subject is often complicit with the neoliberalism it officially opposes (Benn Michaels), the environmental imagination of swarms, trees, and fungi is still overwhelmingly read as offering an alternative to neoliberalism (Nixon). This presentation takes inspiration from recent revisionary accounts of neoliberalism that stress its difference from classical liberalism (Slobodian; Konings; Mirowski; Kotsko) to reassess the relation between environmental imaginaries and neoliberalism. I discuss Richard Powers’ The Overstory, which is organized around the relations between human agents and tree-fungi-collectives, as a novel that dramatizes the tensions between the more classical liberalism to which the novel genre has traditionally been beholden and a neoliberalism that, I argue, is fueled rather than challenged by the kind of collective agency the novel imagines.

Pieter Vermeulen is an associate professor of American and Comparative Literature at the University of Leuven. He is the author of Romanticism After the Holocaust (2010), Contemporary Literature and the End of the Novel: Creature, Affect, Form (2015), and Literature and the Anthropocene (2020), and a co-editor of, most recently, Institutions of World Literature: Writing, Translation, Markets (2015), Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (2017), and a double special issue of LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory on contemporary literature and/as archive (2020). His current writing project investigates the relation between the “Americanization” of world literature and the notion of world literary value.

Register here

Thursday, 20 January 2022 | 16:30 – 17:45

Sarah de Mul (Open University)
Feminist and Postcolonial Artistic Responses to Burnout Culture

Burnout is widely recognised as a major public health problem, which has been explicitly linked to the modern urban environments and lifestyles of late capitalist culture (e.g. Han, Chabot). It has plagued the modern workplace for decades and is nowdays carefully monitored across Europe. In the face of the unprecedented challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, rising numbers of burnout have been reported, which arguably signal a parallel mental health pandemic, affecting women and minorities in particular (Dzau et al. 2020).

In this lecture, I will discuss the notion of burnout culture from gender and diversity perspectives. In particular, I will ask what, and if so how, (postcolonial) feminist theorizations and artistic imaginations could contribute to the scholarship on the self-sufficient entrepreneurial individual in our postmodern society, in particular, his or her exhaustion and other related mental and affective states. Analysing a number of recent artistic and literary imaginations of millenial women and millenial work, I hope to bring into view how ideas of  care (work) and capitalism’s care crisis which have thus far been largely sidelined, or not properly been considered, could add to current scholarship of contemporary burnout culture.

Sarah De Mul is Professor of Literature, Culture and Diversity at the Open University in the Netherlands. Her research interests are situated at the intersection of literary and cultural criticism and comparative postcolonial and gender studies with a particular focus on literatures in Dutch and English. Publications include Colonial Memory (Amsterdam University Press, 2011), Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, ed. with B. O. Firat and S. van Wichelen), The Postcolonial Low Countries (Lexington Books, 2012, with E. Boehmer), the Dutch language memoir Retour San Sebastian. Opgroeien met een vaderland in de verte (De Bezige Bij, 2017). She is currently exploring the role of art, care and resilience in the age of stress and burn-out, particularly in relation to their gendered, racial and ecological dimensions.

Register here

Friday 21 January 2022 | 11:30 – 12:45 

Johannes Voelz (Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main)
The Post-Liberal Aesthetic, or: Can Literary Studies Help Unsettle Polarization?

In this talk, I make a plea to revisit, reevaluate, and reformulate the tradition of liberalism in order to recover its democratic resources. With liberalism having degraded into neoliberalism, these resources have become difficult to tap into. Yet, in the democratic crisis that marks the contemporary moment, they may be more crucial than ever. Perhaps surprisingly, I suggest that literary studies has a role to play in the broader response to that crisis. My focus will be on the United States, where a key characteristic of contemporary democracy is particularly pronounced: While American democracy faces multiple crises, current levels of polarization make it impossible to effectively address any of them. In this situation, literary studies confronts a dual challenge: it must, firstly, come to terms with its own contribution to the dynamics of polarization and, secondly, consider whether it can help undo it. Adopting a cultural-sociological perspective, I identify literary studies as an institution that consolidates the politico-cultural identity of the “new middle class” and contributes to the culturalization of politics underlying contemporary polarization. However, I suggest that (American) literary studies has the capacity to help revive democratic culture if it nurtures reading practices that unsettle fixed identities. To that end, I single out various recent theories of reading whose democratic potential is grounded in their shared premise that literature is a communicative act. In interpreting these models of criticism as a potential way out of the malaise of polarization, I aim to identify a critical “practice of liberty” (John Gray) attuned to what I call the “post-liberal aesthetic.”

Johannes Voelz is Heisenberg Professor of American Studies, Democracy, and Aesthetics at Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany. He is the author of The Poetics of Insecurity: American Fiction and the Uses of Threat (Cambridge UP, 2018) and Transcendental Resistance: The New Americanists and Emerson’s Challenge (UP of New England, 2010). He is an editor of WestEnd. Neue Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, the journal of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, as well as of REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature. He has also edited numerous essay collections and special issues, among them “Security and Liberalism” for the journal Telos (2015). He is a PI in the interdisciplinary research project “ConTrust: Trust in Conflict – Political Life under Conditions of Uncertainty” at the University of Frankfurt and moreover directs the research project “American Literature and the Transformation of Privacy,” funded by the German Research Foundation.

Register here | ONLINE ONLY

OSL Academic Programme 2021-2022

The first overview of the OSL academic programme for 2021-2022 is now available! For the activities taking place in Semester 1, registration will open in September (more details will follow soon). If you have any questions, you are welcome to send an email to osl@rug.nl.

NB: All events are being planned as hybrid or onsite, but will move online if necessary.


Semester 1 (October 2021 – January 2022)


Symposium Decentering Narratives in Latin America | Online, 1 October 2021, 14:00-18:00 CET. Organizers: Juan Del Valle Rojas, Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte and Gonzalo Albornoz Barra (University of Groningen). 1EC.


OSL Research Day | Groningen, 8 October 2021, 10:00-18:00. Keynotes: Prof. Debjani Ganguly (University of Virginia), Prof. David Damrosch (Harvard University) and Prof. Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University).


Seminar Europe as Narrative | Amsterdam, 6, 13, and 20 October 2021; 3, 10 and 17 November 2021 (14:00-17:00 CET). Organizers: Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (University of Groningen) and Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (Leiden University). 5ECs.


Workshop Eternal Presents and Resurfacing Futures: Postcolonial/Postsocialist Dynamics of Time and Memory in Literature and Art | Groningen, 28-29 October 2021. Organizers: Dr. Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen), Dr. Hanneke Stuit (University of Amsterdam) and Dr. Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Amsterdam). 1-2ECs.


Workshop Women and Transnational Modernisms | Groningen, 1-2 November 2021. Organizers: Dr. Camilla Sutherland (University of Groningen), Dr. Ruth Clemens (Utrecht University) and Dr. Kathryn Roberts (University of Groningen). 1-2ECs.


Seminar How We Read: Interpretation, Relation, Mediation | Groningen and Utrecht, November – December 2021. Organizers: Prof. Dr. Laura Bieger (University of Groningen), Prof. Dr. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth (University of Utrecht). 5ECs.


Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers: Framen, schrappen en herschrijven | Online, January 2022. Organizer: Prof. Dr. Geert Buelens (Utrecht University). 3EC.


Ravenstein Winter School: Literature, (Neo)liberalism, and Public Culture | Amsterdam, 19-21 January 2022. Organizers: Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi (Leiden University / University of Amsterdam), Dr. Marc Farrant, Divya Nadkarni, Dr. Marco de Waard (University of Amsterdam). 5-6ECs.


Semester 2 (February – July 2022)


Skills Course Creative Non-Fiction Writing | Groningen, February – March 2022. Organizer: Dr. Suzanne Manizza Roszak (University of Groningen). 5ECs.


Workshop: Introduction to Digital Philology | Utrecht, March – April 2022 (three sessions). Organizer: Dr. Gandolfo Cascio (Utrecht University). 1EC.


Skills Course Computational Literary Studies | Amsterdam, March – May 2022. Organizer: Prof. Dr. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (University of Amsterdam). 3-6ECs.


Seminar Contemporary Debates in Life Writing | Amsterdam, April – May 2022. Organizers: Dr. Marleen Rensen (UvA) and Dr. Babs Boter (VU). 5ECs.


Symposium New Perspectives on Literature and the Brain | Amsterdam, 6 May 2022.


OSL PhD Day | 19 May 2022. More details will follow soon.


Workshop How Not to Write a Novel | Amsterdam, 20 May 2022. 1-2 ECs


Hermes Summer School Hosts, Hospitals and Hospitality | Lisbon, 20-24 June 2022


Institute of World Literature Summer Program | Mainz, 4 – 28 July 2022

OSL Research Day: Full Programme

Groningen | 8 October 2021, 14:00-18:00 | Academiegebouw, Rooms A3 and A8
[NB: The event is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Registration will open September 8, 2021.
PLEASE NOTE: When registering, please indicate (under ‘Remarks’): 1) Which panels/sessions you would like to attend; 2) Whether you would like to attend the event onsite or online.

After skipping one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the OSL Research Day is back, and will take place in Groningen on 8 October 2021! The Research Day aims to celebrate and cultivate OSL’s sense of community, and hopes to stimulate more collaboration between literary scholars and existing research groups in the Netherlands. While literature is our primary focus, we explicitly encourage multidisciplinary research.



The programme features three panels organized by OSL research groups, as well as a final plenary session on world literature. Please find an overview below:

14:00-14:10 Welcome
14:10-15:20 Panel 1 (research group Theories from the South and the East) and Panel 2 (Literature, Law and Society)
15:20-15:30 Coffee break
15:30-16:40 Panel 3 (Crisis and Critique)
16:40-16:50 Coffee break
16:50-18:00 Roundtable on world literature (with Professors Debjani Ganguly, David Damrosch and Sandra Ponzanesi, chaired by Jesse van Amelsvoort)


Panel descriptions


Panel 1 (research group: Theories from the South and the East in Literature and Culture)

Politics and Poetics of Feminist Strike in the Postsocialist/Postcolonial Encounter

The panel will be organized as a session within the seminar series of the research group, with onsite and online participation of group members and open to the public and potential new participants. It will start with a brief introduction of the group and a summary of its two earlier seminars on decoloniality and infrastructure. We then continue with a discussion on the topic of feminist strike, around which a workshop will be organized by members of the group in April 2022. The panel will outline the research focus and initial questions, followed by a presentation of three case studies, and will then open to discussion and input by other group members and the public. The main questions to be addressed are: What are the aims and benefits of bringing postsocialist and postcolonial feminisms into the same fold? What are the meanings and practices of ‘feminist strike’ in the contexts we study? How far can this notion stretch: does it apply to cases of uneventful activism or to feminist resistance in which questions of labour are not explicitly articulated?

Chair: Hanneke Stuit

Panelists: Senka Neuman-Stanivukovic, Judith Naeff, Kylie Thomas and Ksenia Robbe


Panel 2 (research group: Literature, Law and Society)

The panel is open to the public, and will feature both remote and in-person contributions by current research group members. In particular, the session is meant as a roundtable discussion of two recent publications in the field of Law and Humanities — namely A Theory of Law and Literature by Angela Condello and Tiziano Toracca (Brill, 2020) and Art as an Interface of Law and Justice: Affirmation, Disturbance, Disruption by Frans-Willem Korsten (Bloomsbury, 2021). Following a short welcome and introduction to the research group, the panel will consist of two short presentations by the respective authors (10 minutes each), followed by an open discussion. Selected excerpts from both publications will be shared in advance with registered participants.

Panel organizers: Ted Laros (Open University) and Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen)


Panel 3 (research group: Crisis and Critique: Rethinking Europe and the Global South)

Perspectives on Futurity: Europe and the Global South

Following a hybrid format, the panel will involve online and onsite participation of members of the research group and is also open to the public and anyone interested in the panel and/or in joining the group. After a brief introduction of the group and a framing of the panel’s topic by the panel organizers, the first hour will be devoted to four short presentations, followed by discussion, by participants who will relate case studies from their research to visions on futurity from Europe and the Global South, and will unpack the implications of this notion in their respective fields (contemporary art history, anthropology, cultural studies, comics studies).

The presentations and discussion will be guided by the following questions: What does futurity mean in our respective disciplines and research? Which modes of ‘future thinking’ (e.g. futurology, prophecies, future scenarios in populism or conspiracy theories, utopianism etc.) are gaining popularity today and what are their political/ideological implications and valence? How can we link future imaginations with social justice, and particularly: How can Western epistemologies and epistemologies of the South feed into one another in thinking about alternative futures in relation to social justice?

Panel organizers: Maria Boletsi (Leiden University / University of Amsterdam) & Eva Fotiadi (St. Joost School of Art & Design, Avans University of Aplied Sciences, The Netherlands)

Speakers: Vasilis Alexiadis, Kristina Gedgaudaite, Eva Fotiadi and Dimitris Papanikolaou


Roundtable on World Literature

This final panel will focus on two upcoming, major contributions to the study of world literature(s), namely The Cambridge History of World Literature (Cambridge University Press; edited by Prof. Debjani Ganguly, University of Virginia) and Literature: A World History (Blackwell; edited by Prof. David Damrosch, Harvard University et al.). The session will start with three short talks by the two editors and by Professor Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University), who is contributing to the former project. The talks will be followed by an open discussion chaired by Jesse van Amelsvoort (OSL PhD candidate, University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân).


Registration for the Research Day will open on September 8th, 2021. Please feel free to email us (osl@rug.nl) if you have any questions.

OSL Awards 2021

The call for the 2021 OSL Awards is now open! As usual, OSL will reward two of its members with an Award for the categories ‘published scholarly book’ and  ‘published article’. In addition to that, we are happy to announce three extra categories, namely ‘PhD dissertation’, ‘ReMA thesis’ and ‘valorization‘. The Awards are intended to acknowledge original and innovative contributions to the field of literary studies and to highlight the work of talented OSL students and scholars. The OSL Awards come with prize money of € 500,- for each award.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Published scholarly book’ and ‘published article’: Participants must be OSL members who have obtained their PhD from 1 January 2017 onwards at OSL or a university outside the Netherlands. A completed PhD is not a requirement. The works must have been published in one of the modern European languages within the period 1 January 2017 – 15 September 2021. Publications that have been submitted for the OSL Awards in previous years are not eligible for the 2021 edition.
  • PhD dissertation’: Participants must be OSL PhD candidates who have submitted the final version of their dissertation between 1 January 2020 and 15 September 2021. Participants will have to provide evidence that the file they submitted constitutes the final version of their dissertation. A completed PhD is not a requirement.
  • ReMA thesis’: Participants must be OSL ReMA students who have submitted the final version of their thesis between 1 January 2020 and 15 September 2021. Participants will have to provide evidence that the file they submitted constitutes the final version of their thesis. A completed ReMA is not a requirement, but the thesis must have received a minimum grade of 8,0 by the date of submission.
  • Valorization‘: Any OSL member can participate by submitting a brief description (max. 1000 words) of a valorization activity or project they have conducted between 1 January 2020 and 15 September 2021. Participants are welcome to also provide additional evidence regarding their valorization activity (e.g. websites, newspaper articles, links to video recordings, etc.).


  • Articles and other files should to be submitted as PDF to osl@rug.nl. Books can be submitted in digital form as well (if available), otherwise a hardcopy should be sent to Netherlands School for Literary Studies (Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia), Harmony Building, Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 26, 9712 EK Groningen.
  • The deadline for proposals for the 2020 OSL Award is 15 September 2021.
  • The winners of the OSL Awards will be announced in December 2021.

Awards Committee: to be announced.

We look forward to your submissions!


The winners of the 2020 edition: Dr. Marc Farrant and Jesse van Amelsvoort

The winners of the 2019 edition: Dr. Marieke Winkler and Dr. Tom Idema

OSL Symposium ‘Decentering Narratives in Latin America: Shaping Possibilities from Resistance’

Online | 1 October 2021, 14:00-18:10 CET

Organizers: Juan Del Valle Rojas, Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte and Gonzalo Albornoz Barra (University of Groningen)
Open to: Everyone; OSL PhDs and RMA students have first access.
Credits: 1EC. More details on the assignment are provided below.
NB 1: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.
NB 2: The event will take place in Spanish, with the exception of Panel Session 2 (which will be given in English).

Registration for the event will open September 8, 2021. 

Multiple narratives contribute to the shaping of individual and communal beliefs and practices — even more so today. However, what makes some of these narratives more pervasive than others? In the processes of sense- and decision-making, hegemonic narratives are positioned in the centre, namely the place from which institutions exert their influence.

These ‘central’ narratives tend to naturalize the unequal production and distribution of meaning, thereby marginalizing, invisibilizing and excluding many peripheral voices. Latin America is a prime example of how central narratives can generate social injustice, but also of emerging counter-hegemonic narratives. One example is the explosion of protests (street protests and civil disobedience actions) by citizens against inequality, exclusion and injustice, reaching its climax in Chile in 2019 and later spreading to many other neighbouring countries. To date, and despite the COVID epidemic, Latin American social mobilisation is still evolving and renewing in different formats. These recent mobilisations can be identified, in Gramsci’s words, as social actors of resistance countering criminalisation and repression on the part of the state. By so doing, these collective actions seek to decenter dominant narratives by redistributing the possibilities of the production of meaning. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done when it comes to the production and the impact of these movements in the cultural imagination. For example, following Kenneth Roberts’ article “(Re)Politicizing Inequalities: Movements, Parties, and Social Citizenship in Chile” (2016), could we say that we are experiencing insurrection rather than revolutionary movements? Which are the narratives portraying social mobilization in Latin America? To what extent do they have an impact on the cultural imaginary fabric?

In this international symposium experts from literary and cultural studies, politics and related fields analyse the production of diverse and decentered voices of resistance in Latin America. Together they will discuss the demands, struggles and cultural expressions of peripheral actors pursuing the design of inclusive spaces of dialogue.


14:00-14:10      Welcome: Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte; Juan del Valle Rojas; Gonzalo Albornoz Barra

Keynote Session

14:10-14:50“Narrativas descentradas amenazadas en Sudamérica. Elementos de análisis del disenso oral y visual”Jacqueline Fowks

14:50-15:05      Q&A session (Chair: Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte, MA)

15:05-15:20      Break

Session 1

15.20 – 15:40     “Cuando las calles hablan: performatividad política y reclamación en el marco del paro nacional en Colombia 2021” – Dr. Diana Moreno Rodríguez

15:40 – 16:00    “Agendas de ampliación de derechos y discursos de odio. Tensiones entre el universo de las fake news y la organización nacional-popular en Argentina” – Dr. Pablo Bilyk

16:00-16:15      Q&A session (Chair: Gonzalo Albornoz Barra, MA)

16:15-16:45      Break

Session 2

16:45 – 17:05    “Resistance to “Racism à brasileira” in contemporary Afro-Brazilian arts” – Dr. Peter W. Schulze

17:05 – 17:25    “Cultural Narratives of Crisis, Migration and Social Nativism in Latin America” – Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia Martin

17:25 – 17:45    “The ecosystem of the cultural representation of marginality. Contributions to an integrated research perspective” – Dr. Konstantin Mierau

17:45 – 18:00    Q&A session (Chair: Juan del Valle Rojas, MA)

18:00 – 18:10      Final remarks


Bios and Abstracts

Assignment: ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities can obtain 1EC by attending the event and submitting a short critical reflection (approx. 800 words) on a chosen panel/session. The reflection should include references to a minimum of two relevant secondary sources; it should not only summarize the content of the session, but also engage with the arguments presented by the speakers as well as discussing possible links with the student’s own research interests. The assignment should be submitted to osl@rug.nl (in Spanish or English) by Friday 22 October, end of day.

OSL Seminar: Europe as Narrative

Amsterdam | 6, 13, and 20 October 2021; 3, 10 and 17 November 2021 (15:00-18:00 CET) | Room: PCH 5.19 (University of Amsterdam) [NB: The seminar is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (University of Groningen) and Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (Leiden University)
Open to: PhDs and RMA students; OSL members have first access. Interested (regular) MA students are welcome to participate, but are not able to receive official credits for the course.
Credits: 5EC. More details on the assignments will be provided at a later stage. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in September 8, 2021.
PLEASE NOTE: When registering, please indicate (at remarks) whether you would like to attend the event onsite or online.


OSL – The Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL@rug.nl)
Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (m.c.van.der.waal@rug.nl)
Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (a.l.b.van.weyenberg@hum.leidenuniv.nl)
For questions regarding content, please contact either Margriet or Astrid. For questions regarding practical matters, please contact the OSL office.



As Delanty (1995) reminds us, Europe is more than a geo-political reality, it is also an idea that is continuously reinvented as collective identities transform. In essence, ‘Europe’ is a signifier that different actors fill with competing narratives and meanings. But although the way in which Europe is given meaning has never been stable or unifold, in the contemporary political climate the debate about what and where ‘Europe’ is, and who Europeans are or should be, seems increasingly heated. In this debate various types of narratives about ‘Europe’ can be discerned: some refer to Europe as a culture and as a civilization, while others primarily understand Europe as a polity, de facto using it as a synonym for the EU. Within and between these different approaches, the narratives that circulate vary in terms of how Europe and who is a European is conceptualized, leading at times to severe and fundamental ideological clashes.

In this seminar we will explore different narratives of/on/about Europe. For this, we will depart from a number of questions. Firstly, how are ideas about the past utilized, for example by constructing Europe as a teleological narrative with clear historical origins, or by rewriting history in order to serve a contemporary political agenda? Secondly, how do narratives of Europe function as a space of in- and exclusion, by formulating an ‘us’ in opposition to a range of specific and less specific ‘others’? Thirdly, what do narratives of Europe tell us about the way in which Europeans are perceived, either as a homogeneous group, or diversely as a social constitution of different identities that overlap or conflict? We will approach these questions by focusing on a number of concepts that are central to how Europe is narrated: migration, Afropeanness, populism, heritage and citizenship, and future imaginaries of Europe. In our discussions, we will engage with a selection of topical theoretical texts and we will close-read different cultural objects that reflect, talk back, deconstruct and challenge specific narratives of Europe.


Study material and costs

The reading material will be announced shortly; secondary readings will be made freely available via OSL.




1)      Group presentation (40%): students give a 20-minute presentation in groups of 2 – 3 students in which they connect the theoretical texts of that session to a cultural object (i.e. text) of their own choice, by means of a close-reading of the object/text. This cultural object is made available to the other participants in advance.

2)      Research project (60%), in which students engage, individually or in pairs, with the material from at least one of the sessions (theoretical/secondary readings and discussion) and use this to close-read one cultural object of their choice. They are also required to further develop their own theoretical framework with additional theoretical sources. The project needs to contain a well-formulated research question/problem statement, as well as a convincing motivation of the relevance of the research. It needs to be situated within a broader framework of existing scholarship and to present a relevant analysis and interpretation of specific (narrative) primary material (a single case, or a selection of cases such as a novel, a film, a painting, songs, etc.).


The research project can take one of the following forms:

  • A paper of 2000-2500 words (MLA format)
  • A publishable podcast (20 minutes)
  • A video-essay (20 minutes)

In the latter two cases, the project needs to be accompanied by the full script, including references to the sources that were used


The submitted projects will be checked for plagiarism.

In order to receive the credits for this seminar, students need to obtain a minimum grade of 5,5 for the two assignments combined.

We take it that you understand the conventions of the genre you have selected for the second assignment, and that you have the required technical expertise to carry it out.



Session 1 (6/10): Introduction (Astrid and Margriet)

Session 2 (13/10): Migration (Florian Lippert, University of Groningen)

Session 3 (20/10): Black Europe/Afroeurope (TBA)

​​Session 4 (3/11): Populism in Europe (Sabine Volk, Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

Session 5 (10/11): European Heritage and Citizenship (Astrid and Margriet)

Session 6 (17/11): Imagining the future of Europe (Astrid and Margriet)

OSL Workshop: Eternal Presents and Resurfacing Futures: Postcolonial/Postsocialist Dynamics of Time and Memory in Literature and Art

Groningen | 28-29 October 2021
[NB: The event is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen), Hanneke Stuit (University of Amsterdam) and Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Amsterdam)
Keynote speakers: Ilya Kukulin (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Andrew van der Vlies (University of Adelaide), Françoise Vergès (Collège d’études mondiales | Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris)
Venue: University of Groningen, Harmoniecomplex Oude Kijk in t Jatstraat 26, Groningen.
(Day 1) 1315:0049 and (Day 2) 1315:0043
Open to: PhDs and RMA students; OSL members have first access.
Please note that places for the workshop are limited, and priority will be given to OSL students. However, there are no limits for remote attendance to the keynote lectures. If you are only interested in attending the keynote sessions online, please register here for the individual keynotes.
Credits: 1-2ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration is closed. The workshop is fully booked.
You can still register for the individual keynotes here

The end of the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s initiated a global discourse of contemporaneity that was meant to deconstruct the linear progressive time of modernity as well as its dialectics that dominated the 20th century. In literature and artistic imagination, this postmodern sensibility was meant to institute a new “politics of time” (Osborne) marked by globalization – both open and seamless, as well as generative of a new expansive, fluid episteme. The heavily Eurocentric myopia of this view found starkest expressions in the idea of the “end of history” (Fukuyama) that declared the end of politics itself. Yet arrested within such perceptions of new spatio-temporal fluidities of “the contemporary” were the heterogeneous temporalities of decolonization and democratic change in societies that had been negotiating the impacts and afterlives of empire and ideological conflicts of the Cold War itself across the long 20th century.

As the West’s accelerated histories perpetuated a politics of presentism, marked by the fear of time itself – chronophobia (Lee) – the “non-West”, implicated otherwise in the very dialectics that was now deemed “over” – has been left to grapple with epistemological hegemonies of homogeneous time. Yet, it is amidst the new postcolonial and postsocialist societies of the 1990s that we can encounter braided temporalities of struggle, affirmation, memorialization, and utopic horizons. We can seek here new and alternate forms of contemporaneity that do not eclipse the spectre of history but materialize it via aesthetic form. In this workshop, we foreground such forms, and ask: are connected questions around the dynamics of time and memory in postcolonial and postsocialist aesthetics possible? We turn to literature and art to seek new frontiers of dialogues, questions and potentialities.

This workshop addresses the ways in which literature and art, in their generic capacity for multi-perspective representation, reimagine place and agency in the impasse of an eternal present and develop ways of engaging with the past that “resurface” futurity. We propose to begin thinking about these questions from the “peripheries” of the Global South and the Global East which, despite their key role in the global transformations of the 1980-1990s, are mostly regarded as recipients rather than producers of theoretical and critical perspectives.  At the same time, the dynamics of transformation in these contexts continue to be largely divorced from each other and mediated via comparison to the West. We begin to think about and through the dynamics of time and memory since the 1990s beyond the “failures” of postcolonial and postsocialist transitions, and beyond traumatic repetition and postmodern cynicism. Drawing upon Jean and John L. Comaroffs’ proposition that African and other Global South societies are where key practices and ideas are being developed and tested before they “travel” to the West, we open a dialogue between these and postsocialist contexts of the Global East. We suggest that these entangled contexts generate alternative temporalities and constellations of time as they grapple with ambiguities of “post-transitional” experience and experiment with a variety of post- /alter-postmodernist modes.

Memory and place have been at the foreground of social and political contestation in postcolonial and postsocialist contexts, and so, these are the “sites” from which we begin our exploration. We approach memory in the broad sense as socio-cultural acts (Bal) of engaging with the past that shape, in each new iteration, specific connections between pasts, presents and futures, and determine the logic and the spatial coordinates of these temporal constructions. Through remembering, time is resignified and connected to (or disconnected from) place, and various acts of remediating constitute further temporal-spatial dynamics (Erll & Rigney). We aim to initiate new theorizations of postcolonial/ postsocialist entanglements by focusing on configurations of time and memory in practices of literature and art, for which “(post)colonialism” and “(post)socialism” are relevant markers (i.e. also including Western and diasporic practices). This inquiry brings together theoretical perspectives on historical time and memory, which often run parallel courses in cultural history and memory studies scholarship.

We ask: which temporalities are involved in acts of remembering as a “post-transitional” experience? And what ways of engaging with the past can we observe in narrative and visual constructions of the past in Southern and Eastern knowledges? How do imaginations from the Global South and East produce theoretical insights that rework hegemonic transnational cultural repertoires across the world?


  • Bal, Mieke. “Introduction.” Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present. Ed. by Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe and Leo Spitzer. Hanover & London: University Press of New England, 1999. Vii-xvii.
  • Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa. Boulder & London: Paradigm, 2012.
  • Erll, Astrid, and Ann Rigney. “Introduction: Cultural Memory and Its Dynamics.” Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory. Ed. by Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2008. 1-14.
  • Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press, 1992.
  • Lee, Pamela. Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2004.
  • Osborne, Peter. Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde. London: Verso, 1995.


[NB: All times are CET]

Day 1

10.00 – 10.15 – Welcome and introduction

10.15 – 11.30 – Keynote Françoise Vergès

11.30 – 12.00 – Coffee break

12.00 – 13.30 – Panel “Troubling Transitions: Postcolonial/Postsocialist Interventions”

13.30 – 14.30 – Lunch

14.30 – 16.00 – Panel “Beyond Impasses of Rural Time”

16.00 – 16.30 – Coffee break

16.30 – 17.45 – Keynote Ilya Kukulin


Day 2

10.15 – 11.30 – Keynote Andrew van der Vlies

11.30 – 12.00 – Coffee break

12.00 – 13.30 – Panel “Memory and Displacement”

13.30 – 14.30 – Lunch

14.30 – 16.00 – Roundtable

16.00 – 16.30 – Closing discussion


The workshop is sponsored by the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL), the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM).  It is organized by members of the OSL research group “Theories from the South and the East in Literature and Culture” and the AHM research group “Global Trajectories of Thought and Memory: Art and the Global South”.

Panels and participants

Keynotes: Abstracts and Bios

Credits and assignments

OSL Seminar ‘How We Read: Interpretation, Relation, Mediation’

Groningen and Utrecht | 19 November 2021 (Groningen), 26 November (Utrecht), 3 December (Utrecht), 10 December (Groningen), 17 December (Utrecht, exact date tbc). Exact times will be confirmed soon.
[NB: The seminar is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Laura Bieger (University of Groningen), Prof. Dr. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth (University of Utrecht)
Open to: PhDs and RMA students; OSL members have first access.
Credits: 5ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open September 8, 2021.
PLEASE NOTE: When registering, please indicate (at remarks) whether you would like to attend the event onsite or online.

What happens when we read a literary text? How and why do we (like to) read it? How do the expectations, questions and perspectives we bring to a text contribute to making it meaningful? How does the materiality of a text affect the way we read?  How does reading literature differ from other types of reading?

Generations of scholars have puzzled over these questions and their significance for our understanding of what literature is and does. This course explores a range of critical perspectives, among them those by Sigmund Freud, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Derrida, Wolfgang Iser, Édouard Glissant, and Lauren Berlant. And those by our guests: Alexander Starre (FU Berlin), Liedeke Plate (Radboud University), Anna Poletti (University of Utrecht), Philipp Loeffler (Heidelberg University/FU Berlin), Jessica Pressman (UC San Diego). Literary texts include: Henry James, “The Real Thing” and M. Nourbese Philip, Zong!

The aim of the course is to familiarize students with both canonical and new methodologies of engaging with literary texts. We will explore approaches anchored in the practice of interpretation while also critically interrogating this form of literary engagement and challenging it with material and affective approaches to reading literature.

More details on the programme and assignments will be provided soon.

Schedule (the dates are fixed but the times are pending)

The course will (hopefully) take place on-site at the Universities of Groningen and Utrecht, with two of our five guests joining us online.

  • Nov. 19, 11:00-18:00, Groningen – Guest: Alexander Starre
  • Nov. 26, 11:00-18:00, Utrecht – Guest: Liedeke Plate
  • Dec. 3, 11:00-14:00, Utrecht – Guest: Anna Poletti
  • Dec. 10, 11:00-14:00, Groningen – Guest: Philipp Loeffler
  • Dec. 17, 17:00-20:00, Utrecht – Guest (online): Jessica Pressman


OSL Workshop: Women and Transnational Modernisms

Online | Monday 1 November 2021 (10:30-16:30) + Tuesday 2 November 2021 (13:00-17:30)

Organizers: Camilla Sutherland (University of Groningen), Ruth Clemens (Utrecht University) and Kathryn Roberts (University of Groningen)
Open to: PhDs and RMA students; OSL members have first access.
Credits: 1-2ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open September 8, 2021.


Responding to the recent ‘transnational turn’ in Modernist Studies, as well as the growing field signalled by the establishment of the Feminist Modernist Studies journal in 2018, this workshop will explore the relationship between gender and transnational modernism. Bringing together scholars of a variety of national and regional modernisms (North America, Europe, Latin America, and beyond), we seek to assess where women fit into the redrawing of the geographical borderlines of Modernist Studies and how to account for not only the geographic but also symbolic marginalisation of these figures. Spread over two days, the workshop will combine presentations, discussion groups and collaborative writing sessions.

Day One: 15-minute “work in progress” talks given by organizers and guest speakers – in these sessions we will share and receive feedback on current research being done in the area of gender and transnational modernism.

Day Two: Morning discussion seminar responding to a selection of recent articles published in the field; Afternoon peer group discussions and collaborative writing/brainstorming sessions setting down our thoughts on new directions for the field and possible future co-authored publications and projects.


Full programme

Preparation and assignments