Narratives of Conflict, Peace and Reconciliation

International Online Seminar | October 2020 – May 2021

The Universities of Groningen and Antioquia (Medellín) are happy to announce the first edition of the international online seminar Narratives of Conflict, Peace and Reconciliation. The seminar is co-sponsored by OSL, and will feature six sessions delivered by leading experts in conflict narratives from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Confirmed speakers include Pablo Valdivia and Konstantin Mierau (Universidad de Groningen), Marcela Garcés, Vladimir Montoya, Alejandro Pimienta and Andrés García (Universidad de Antioquia), Heriberto Cairo (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), Luis Berneth Peña (Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies), Carlos del Valle (Universidad de la Frontera) and Jacqueline Fowks (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú).

More information on the programme and registration can be found here: Full Programme

NB: All sessions will be in Spanish.

De kunst van het boekomslag

Amsterdam | 2 December 2020

Woensdag 2 december, 14:00-17:00, inloop vanaf 13:30

Arti et Amicitiae, Rokin 112, Amsterdam


Ontwerpers, uitgevers en schrijvers stoppen veel tijd in het creëren van aantrekkelijke omslagen. Een geslaagde omslag kan een boek maken of breken, lezers verleiden tot een aankoop of ze juist afstoten. Tegelijkertijd wordt ook op andere manieren aandacht besteed aan omslagen: denk bijvoorbeeld aan de Volkskrant-rubriek waarin trends en terugkerende thema’s in ontwerpen voor boekomslagen worden besproken.


Dit najaar verschijnt het boek The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers, and Art at the Edges of Literatures. In dit boek buigen literatuurwetenschapper David Alworth en ontwerper Peter Mendelsund zich over de geschiedenis, betekenis en toekomst van boekomslagen. Zij komen 2 december virtueel naar Nederland om over hun boek te vertellen en in gesprek te gaan met ontwerpers, studenten, boekhandelaren en andere professionals uit het boekenvak.


Deze middag zullen we in gesprek gaan over de huidige staat van het vak. Wat is anno 2020 een goede cover? Welke ontwikkelingen zien ze in het veld? Wat zijn de uitdagingen waar ze zich voor gesteld zien? Wat is de kunst van het boekomslag?


Bevestigde gasten zijn onder meer Lisa Kuitert, hoogleraar Boekwetenschap aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Jaap Biemans, de prijswinnende ontwerper van onder meer de covers van Volkskrant Magazine, en uitgever Menno Hartman van Van Oorschot.

De inschrijving gaat binnenkort open! Meld u aan voor de OSL-nieuwsbrief om op de hoogte te blijven.


‘De kunst van het boekomslag’ wordt georganiseerd door Jesse van Amelsvoort en Ron van Roon, met ondersteuning van de Beroepsorganisatie Nederlandse Ontwerpers (BNO), de Onderzoeksschool Literatuurwetenschap (OSL) en het PictoRight Fonds.



OSL Masterclass with Philipp Blom

Online event | 18 September 2020, 16:00-17:00 CEST

On Friday 18th of September, OSL will host an online masterclass by novelist and historian Philipp Blom, titled Need for a New Story: The Role of Academics and Artists in Narrating a Sustainable World. You are all cordially invited to join this event by clicking on this Google Meet link on Friday 18th at 16:00 (the virtual ‘room’ will open at 15:45). If you are interested in joining, please also make sure to register via this form; there is no deadline for registration, but this will help us reach out to you for any last-minute communication (should we need any).

Philipp Blom (Hamburg, 1970) is a historian, novelist, journalist, and translator. He studied in Vienna and Oxford and writes for several British, German and Dutch newspapers and journals, such as The Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, Die Zeit, and Vrij Nederland.

In his latest book that just appeared, Het grote wereldtoneel: over de kracht van verbeelding in crisistijd (‘The great world stage: on the power of imagination in times of crisis’, the English translation is still forthcoming), Blom shows how the West is in crisis not despite peace and prosperity but because of it. Therefore, he believes, the struggle for the future is a struggle for a new grand narrative. In the quest for such a narrative, Blom positions himself in the tradition of thinkers who dared to offend human narcissism: Galileo Galilei, for example, who opted that the earth might not be the center of the universe, or Charles Darwin, who suggested that humankind might not be God’s equal, but the equal of apes.

The current coronacrisis has only fed the urgency of a new, sustainable and less narcissistic view of humankind. How should such a new grand narrative take shape? Who gets to tell it and how? What could be the role of literary and historical writers, and of us, young literary and history scholars, in its creation?
After a short introductory lecture by Blom, the floor will be opened to OSL members to participate in the q&a and subsequent discussion.
In order to prepare for the Masterclass and get acquainted with Blom’s style and ideas, you can watch this public lecture from 2018 (in English).

Please send an email to if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Judith Jansma and Kim Schoof (OSL PhD Representatives)


NB: The masterclass is also connected to Blom’s keynote lecture on ‘The State of European Literature’, which will take place in Amsterdam on the same day, 19:30-20:30 (more information here).

OSL is particularly grateful to Dr. Guido Snel (UvA) for his kind support during the preparation of this event.


Book Presentation: Christel N. Temple, Black Cultural Mythology

Online event | 19 February 2021

Time: 16:00-17:30 (Amsterdam time)

Credits: 1 (attendance + short assignment; details to be announced)


Christel N. Temple is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her latest book, Black Cultural Mythology (SUNY, 2020), provides a highly innovative conceptual framework for exploring the complex relations between cultural memory, heroic narratives, activism and creative production within and beyond the African diaspora.

The event will start with a lecture by Dr. Temple, followed by a response by Ann Rigney (Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University; Principal Investigator of the Remembering Activism project) and an open Q&A.


Registration will open in Fall 2020; more details will follow soon.

OSL Seminar: Africa beyond “Africa”: Literary explorations

Online seminar | 6 October, 20 October, 27 October, 3 November, 17 November, 24 November 2020 (15:00 – 17:00) | 5 EC

Organization: Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal ( and Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg ( For questions regarding content, please contact either Margriet or Astrid. For questions regarding practical matters, please contact the OSL office (

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access. Interested MA students are welcome to participate, but are not able to receive official credits for the course.
Format: Two-hour (online) seminar, active discussion and participation



Although political, sociological, ethnographical or anthropological perspectives from, on and about Africa are frequently examined and discussed, African artistic domains remain relatively underexposed in the Netherlands. This is remarkable, especially when taking into account that African artistic practices are booming – both at home and around the world. In this course, we will problematize a number of assumptions about Africa and explore how contemporary African literature and film invite us to imagine and rethink Africa as part of the world and the location of the future. The seminar is not meant to represent a general overview of African literature and film, but aims to explore a number of topical issues with regard to contemporary literary and cultural production from and about Africa. We will apply an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on the knowledge and expertise from different academic fields working on the topic of African literature and film.

Study material and costs

See programme. All secondary reading material will be made available via OSL. Primary texts (literature) are to be obtained by participants themselves. Access to the film (Girlhood) will be arranged.


  1. Students will (in small groups or individually, depending on the number of participants) prepare a short introduction for one of the weeks, based on the secondary literature, and guide the close-reading and analysis of the literary text/film (50%);
  2. Each student will respond (individually or in small groups, depending on the number of participants) to and reflect on at least one of the presentations (pass/fail);
  3. Each student will write a short paper of ca 2500 words on a topic of their choice related to the overall course topic (50%). The purpose of the paper is to test students’ capacity to comprehend and reflect critically both on the reading material and on the seminar discussions. Students should either have one central research question that they attempt to answer or one central thesis statement that they set out to substantiate.

Students need to write their papers in English and submit them via e-mail to the respective organizer, with the OSL office in the CC. Formally, the papers need to follow in all respects the current MLA guidelines (re. footnotes, bibliography, citation, format) and they should contain the student’s name and student number on the first page. Papers will be checked for plagiarism.

In order to receive the credits for this seminar, students need a minimum grade of 5,5 for each of the two assignments as well as a pass for the response.


Session 1 (6/10): Africa beyond ‘Africa’:

Session 2 (20/10): Reconciliation and commemoration:

Session 3 (27/10): Africa in Europe 1 (historical):

Session 4 (3/11): Africa in Europe 2 (contemporary):

Session 5 (17/11): Diaspora and Afropolitanism:

Session 6 (24/11): Environmental (science) fiction and Afrofuturism:

OSL PhD Workshop: Literature and the Social

Literature and the Social

Online PhD workshop | 4 December 2020 | Organizer: Jesse van Amelsvoort (Groningen) | Keynote: Prof. David Alworth (Harvard) | 1-2 EC

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access.

Registration will open Fall 2020.

Towards the end of the twentieth century, the study of literature became decidedly more sociological. Under the influence of thinkers such as Pierre Bourdieu and disciplines such as gender and postcolonial studies, scholars started paying attention to the context of literary production. This move has sometimes seen literature reduced to a status subordinated to other disciplines – merely the offshoot of other, ‘real’ processes in society and culture. In this seminar, we counter this view and aim to rethink how literature relates to the social, in particular regarding the ways in which literature can make our social world legible and visible in new ways.
Literature, David Alworth argues in his book Site Reading, is in fact a rich source of sociological knowledge. Departing from Bruno Latour’s sociology, especially his actor-network theory (ANT), Alworth demonstrates the value of literature and literary studies for understanding the social. By attending to the various sites that function as the backdrop of the action in literary works, we can see how these sites either restrict characters’ actions, or enable them. If we want to know more about the human experience of collectivity, we might as well turn to literary representations of that experience. The workshop 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 own research projects.

OSL Workshop: Generalizations, Hypotheses, Evidence in Literary Studies

OSL Workshop: Generalizations, Hypotheses, Evidence in Literary Studies

Online workshop | Friday 23 October 2020, 16:00-17:30 (CEST time) | Organizer: Roel Smeets (Radboud University) | Keynote: Prof. Andrew Piper (McGill University) | 1-2 EC | Open to: PhD, RMA students and staff members.

RMa students who are interested in taking this workshop can send an e-mail with their motivation to Don’t forget to specify your master program, university and national research school.


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

How do we move from particular examples to more general statements about the literary world? This is what I will be calling the practice of generalization, and it effects all knowledge domains. While other fields have long grappled with this problem, literary studies has yet to engage in sustained discussion surrounding the principles and procedures through which we produce generalized knowledge about the world. The rise of computational and quantitative forms of evidence have made this issue particularly relevant today, especially for a field that has traditionally relied on anecdotal or exemplary forms of evidence. This workshop will initiate a discussion about the place of generalization within literary studies, problems attending its current practice, issues introduced by data and quantification, and possible future pathways surrounding more open forms of evidence and argumentation.

OSL Course: Creative Writing ‘Poetics – A Practioner’s Guide’

Creative Writing ‘Poetics – A Practioner’s Guide’

Online skills course | 2, 9, 16, 30 October and 6 November 2020, 12:00-15:00 | Coordinator: Dr David Ashford (Groningen) | 5 EC

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access.


This course will introduce participants to poetic genres, forms and metres, enabling them to develop, or to expand upon their own practice, as creative writers. Participants will study poetry from a variety of traditions, in order to understand how poetic form is determined by its original context in performance, and by the information, musical and theatrical technologies necessary to that original performative context. Far from being arbitrary or inorganic restrictions upon individual creativity, poetic form will emerge as the response to a context in performance that may since have been lost; as something organic, evolving and (potentially) still very much alive. Over a series of seminars and creative writing workshops, featuring poets invited to reflect upon their own practice, participants will investigate how ancient poetics have been (and might be) adapted for the creation of contemporary poetries, being introduced to recent research on creative writing as an historical and a discursive phenomenon. In addition, participants will learn to use creative-writing techniques as a form of artistic research and as an element of their methodologies.

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers: Framen, schrappen en herschrijven

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers

Skills course | Januari 2021 | Universiteit Utrecht | vier bijeenkomsten (tbc) | Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Geert Buelens (Utrecht) | 3 EC

Bestemd voor: Promovendi en RMa Studenten, OSL leden hebben voorrang bij inschrijving

Registratie opent najaar 2020

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

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

OSL Course: Computational Literary Studies

OSL Course: Computational Literary Studies

University of Amsterdam | April – May 2021, five sessions (tbc) | 3-6 ECs | Organiser: prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (UvA) | Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access 

Registration will open Fall 2020

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