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 (m.c.van.der.waal@rug.nl) and 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 (osl@rug.nl).

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

Registration

Content

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.

Assignments

  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.

Programme

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 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 osl@rug.nl. Don’t forget to specify your master program, university and national research school.

Registration

THE WORKSHOP IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to osl@rug.nl. 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.

Registration 

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 Course: Literature Between the State and the Market

Literature Between the State and the Market

Dates: 17 and 24 April; 8 and 15 May 2020 (4 sessions)
Time: 14:00-16.00 hr
Venue: The course will take place online; more information will be provided to all registered participants as soon as possible
Open to: RMA students and PhD candidates, OSL members will have first access
Credits: 3EC
Coordinator: Dr Laurens Ham (Utrecht University)
Registration 

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

In 2015, the American magazine The Atlantic proclaimed ‘the death of the artist – and the birth of the creative entrepeneur’. The discourse on literary authorship has indeed changed over the past fifty years: the representation of the author as a solitary genius seems more outdated than ever, now that writers are often presented as competitors in a literary market. While the marketization of literature proceeded, governments became interested in ‘cultural entrepeneurship’ as well. What is the place of literature, and of the literary author, in these changing fields of power and the economy? Do authors have to fear this ‘heteronomization’, or does it also offer opportunities for their cultural and political impact? In this course, we discuss insights from cultural sociology, cultural policy studies, and literary studies about the place of literature between the state and the market.

More details will follow soon

OSL Course: Computational Literary Studies

Computational Literary Studies

Dates: March- May 2020 – exact dates, see below
Time: 12.00-15.00
Venue: University of Amsterdam – All dates: PC Hoofthuis 4.22, Spuistraat 134 Amsterdam, except for 20 April PC Hoofthuis 4.34
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access
Organiser: prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (UvA)
ECTS: 3-6
Registration 

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

Bring your own laptop to all classes

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.

Dates:

Monday 30 March
Monday  6 & 20 April
Monday 11, 18 & 25 May

OSL Masterclass ‘Speculative Ecologies: Turning the Human(ities) Inside Out’

Speculative Ecologies

Date: 13 May 2020
Venue: Utrecht University
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access
Credits: 1-3 ECs
Instructor: Dr Tom Idema (Utrecht University)

Registration 

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

Speculative Narratology: Turning the Human(ities) Inside Out

If the humanities is a tranquil mountain resort with a lake around which scholars gather to bathe in the beauties of literature, philosophy, and other things human, then speculative ecologies awaken the terrifying Beast of Transdisciplinarity at the bottom of the lake, disturbing the scholars’ soothing stay. What will happen if the scholars look the Beast in the eye, or look through its eyes?

Today writers, scholars, and scientists are questioning commonly held assumptions about humanity and nature in the light of immense and potentially catastrophic environmental change, conjuring up new, speculative ecologies. From Jeff VanderMeer’s fiction of human transmutation to Timothy Morton’s philosophy of hyperobjects to forester Peter Wohlleben’s Das Geheime Lebe der Bäume, speculative ecologies transgress the boundaries of media, genres, and disciplines to make the non/human appear anew. In this masterclass we will delve into key examples of speculative ecologies, considering how they may inform developments in literary studies and, more broadly, the Humanities. A central concern will be how speculative ecologies provoke questions about narrative and narratology: how are human and nonhuman actants reconfigured? Can narrative somehow render the complexity of Earth systems in experiential form?

You will be encouraged to write a research paper that may lead to a publication, or a  research proposal that exploits the funding opportunities of the sustainability transition at the European Research Council and NWO.

Prospective readings (appr. 80-100 pages): Jeff VanderMeer (excerpts), Timothy Morton, Claire Colebrook, Catriona Sandilands, Stacy Alaimo, Lynn Margulis, Peter Wohlleben, and others. A detailed reading list will be provided soon.

 

Programme

11:00    Registration + coffee/tea

11:30    Welcome and lecture by Tom Idema

12:30    Discussion

13:00    Lunch

13:30    Discussions around readings and participant questions

15:00    End

 

Practicalities

The masterclass consists of a lecture in which Dr. Tom Idema will present parts of his book Stages of Transmutation: Science Fiction, Biology, and Environmental Posthumanism (Routledge 2019) as well as new research. The lecture will be followed by discussions on the basis of the reading assignment submitted in advance by participants.

In order to participate and earn 1 EC for the masterclass, you need to submit the following assignment no later than 1 May 2020. Write a reading response or mini-essay (750-1000 words), in which you refer to at least three of the assigned academic readings, as well as any other readings you want to reference. You may gear the assignment toward your own research interests but do take care to thoroughly engage the masterclass’s topic and texts. Formulate two or three questions arising from what you read and wrote, which could serve as the point of departure for a discussion. Use one or two sentences to explain each question (unpack terms, offer context, comment on coherence) and to state its relevance.

The assignment may be used as a springboard for a paper or research proposal (2500 words, +/- 10%) written after the masterclass, to be handed in by 13 June 2020. By submitting the paper/proposal and obtaining a sufficient grade, students can earn 2 extra ECs (amounting to a total of 3ECs from the masterclass).

 

Instructor Biography
Dr. Tom Idema is a lecturer in the department of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University. His research is situated at the intersection of literary studies, the environmental humanities, and science and technology studies. Tom is interested in how narratives of (human) life in literature and science are transforming in an age of technological and environmental upheaval. His book Stages of Transmutation: Science Fiction, Biology, and Environmental Posthumanism (2019), published in the Routledge book series Perspectives on the Non-human in Literature and Culture, won the 2019 OSL book award. Tom’s work has appeared in various edited volumes and in journals including Frame, Configurations, Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, Biosocieties, Green Letters, and Ecozon@. He is a board member of the Benelux Association for the Study of Culture and the Environment and the Dutch ambassador of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSA-EU).

OSL Seminar: Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

Dates: NB the seminar has been postponed; the sessions will take place online on 20 and 27 May and 3, 10 and 17 June 2020. More details will be provided to registered participants as soon as possible.
Time: 15.00-17.00
Venue: University of Amsterdam / Online
Instructors: Dr Marleen Rensen (UvA) and Dr Vera Veldhuizen (Groningen)
Credits: 5 EC
Open to: RMA students and PhD candidates, OSL members will have first access
Registration 

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

This course focuses on contemporary debates in life writing as a newly emerging field across disciplines. Life writing is an umbrella term for a wide range of writings about one’s own or someone else’s life, such as biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, bio-fiction and travel writing. In the course we will explore various life stories of men and women in the 20th and 21st centuries, who each had their own unique set of life experiences, beliefs and perceptions. This will help gain a richer understanding of how individuals move through, interact with, and are affected by the major events of their time — and how their lives are narrated, either by themselves or by others.

Keynote Lecture by Caroline Levine

29 January 2020

The conference Stranger Things: Rethinking Defamiliarization in Literature and Visual Culture took place in Amsterdam on 12-13 December 2019. It was sponsored by NIAS and OSL, and organized by Nilgun Bayraktar (California College of the Arts) and Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen).

Our first keynote speaker was Caroline Levine (Cornell University), with a lecture titled ‘Defamiliarization for a Sustainable Planet’. You can now (re)watch the lecture here!

Ravenstein Seminar (Winter School 2020): War, Literature and Law

Ravenstein Seminar

Dates: 22-24 January 2020
Venue: Leiden University | 22 January: Lipsius, room 147, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden | 23 & 24 January: PJ Vethgebouw room 1.01 Nonnensteeg 3, Leiden
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access
Credits: 5 EC
Organizers: Prof. Dr. Frans Willem Korsten (Leiden University), Dr Ted Laros (Open University), Mariëlle Matthee (Leiden University)

Registration will open November 6, 2019

Wars come in many forms: in the archaic form of the battlefield confrontation between opposing armies, in civil wars, in wars between the state and revolutionary factions, but also, more recently, in the metaphorically indicated but still very real forms of the ‘war on drugs’ and the ‘war on terror’. We are surrounded daily by newsreports on cyberwarfare and ecological warfare. War may be one of the worst horrors human beings can go through, yet they also keep on faring it, which must imply that they somehow, perversely, also desire it.

In this OSL winter school we aim to focus on current and historical instances of warfare, from the contemporary to the distant past, and on a wide range of violent conflicts such as the ones named above. All of them has been thematised in literature – and ‘literature’ is also a synecdoche here for all forms of art, like cinema, comics, paintings, songs, plays, and so forth. This holds, then, from Tolstoj’s epic War and Peace to Keiji Nakazawa’s manga Barefoot Gen, from Isabel Allende’s historical novel Portrait in Sepia to Tupac’s song Changes, or from Chibundu Onuzo’s novel Welcome to Lagos to Matthew Heineman’s documentary City of Ghosts. As most works of art testify, wars are always fought in close proximity to law, as all acts of war form a provocation to the operation of law, either because ‘normal life’ and the rule of law have been disrupted or because martial law only covers certain forms of warfare. Or because the laws on war crimes are considered, ironically, as ‘soft law’. At the same time it needs to be acknowledged that many forms of war have been legally underpinned, or made possible by law.

Literature has been the instrument that helped people sustain war (as Primo Levi testified) or that was a major vehicle for the call for justice (as in the work of Antjie Krog). At the same time there is much art that promotes war (Marinetti’s horrifying manifest), or motivates it (Kipling’s “White man’s burden”). Law may be the last stronghold people hold on to in times of violence (as happens wherever people keep on registering what happened with an eye to future justice), or may instead itself be the instrument of violence (as perhaps too many examples illustrate). Our aim in this winter school is to investigate the forcefields and dynamics that exist between the two fields, literature and law, as they intersect in making sense of, or in their trying to govern the phenomenon of war.

We invite ResMa students and PhD students to participate in this winter school by means of a focused paper and active participation during the three day gatherings. We invite historical studies as well as conceptual reflections, we invite scholars coming from the legal side and those coming from the humanities. Our aim is to make the different disciplines talk to one another and to have a broad scope of reflections on the dynamics described above.

The first day of our meeting will consist in theoretical explorations of the concepts at stake and in focusing on the papers produced by the participants. The full programme can be found here (updated January 2020).

 

Our confirmed keynote speakers are:

 

Prof. dr. Richard H. Weisberg
Richard H. Weisberg is the Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law.
He was an Obama appointee to the Commission on the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. Professor Weisberg has helped litigate successfully in American federal courts on behalf of Holocaust survivors and their heirs, providing a measure of justice for World War II victims of anti-Semitism. President Nicholas Sarkozy of France awarded him the Legion of Honor in 2008. The founding director at Cardozo of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Program and the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy, he writes widely in those areas, including his book Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France and essays on First Amendment developments in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a pioneer in the growing law and literature movement worldwide, and his books The Failure of the Word and Poethics have been widely translated. In 2014, he published In Praise of Intransigence: The Perils of Flexibility (Oxford University Press).

 

Prof. dr. Gisèle Sapiro

Gisèle Sapiro is Professor of Sociology at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales and research director at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, from which she received a médaille de bronze in 2000. She specialises in the sociology of translation as well as of literature and intellectuals. Her first book The French Writers′ War, 1940-1953 (Duke University Press, 2014; original edition 1999) adopts Bourdieu’s field theory to analyse French writers’ political choices during the German occupation. Her publications also include La Responsabilité de l’Ecrivain. Littérature, Droit et Morale en France, XIXe–XXe siècles (Seuil, 2011), focusing on writers’ and intellectuals’ struggles for freedom of speech and the autonomy of the arts in France, as well as Les Ecrivains et la politique en France: De l’Affaire Dreyfus à la guerre d’Algérie (Seuil, 2018).

 

Prof. dr. Carrol Clarkson

Carrol Clarkson is Professor and Chair of Modern English Literature at the University of Amsterdam. She has published widely on aesthetics, legal theory, and South African literature and art. Her books include J.M. Coetzee: Countervoices (2009; second edition 2013) and Drawing the Line: Toward an Aesthetics of Transitional Justice (Fordham University Press, 2014). Before coming to Amsterdam she was Professor and Head of the English Department at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Conference: Stranger Things: Rethinking Defamiliarization in Literature and Visual Culture

Conference Stranger Things

Dates: 12-13 December 2019
Venue: Amsterdam, Roeterseiland REC A 1.02 (12 December); Amsterdam, NIAS Seminar Room, Korte Spinhuissteeg 3 (13 December)
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access
Credits: 1-2 EC (depending on attending 1 or 2 days)
Organizers: Dr Nilgun Bayraktar (California College of the Arts; NIAS) and Dr Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen)
Registration
Please specify which day(s) you want to attend when you register (see below).

NOTE: The conference is fully booked, however we still have places available on the first day (12 December). Please send an e-mail to osl@rug.nl if you want to attend the first day. Don’t forget to mention your name, university and national research school.

If you want to be on the waiting list for both days, please send an e-mail to osl@rug.nl. Don’t forget to mention your name, university and national research school.

The notion of defamiliarization is strikingly undertheorized; when it comes to systematic definitions of this concept, not much progress has been made since Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky’s work on ostranenie in literature in the early 20th century, or German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s theorization of Verfremdungseffekt in the 1930s to describe theatrical devices that break audiences’ passive absorption in theatrical illusion.

Defamiliarizing practices today play a key role in contemporary artworks engaging with highly topical issues, such as migration, climate change or the rise of right-wing populist discourses. Whether we are dealing with retro-futuristic dystopias, films breaking the fourth wall, or darkly humorous cartoons, defamiliarization can be an effective tool for political activation – one based on formal innovation, rather than on content or on superficial emotional engagement.

But how exactly can we distinguish between different forms of defamiliarization? How can we investigate its effects on the reader/viewer? How does defamiliarization relate to neighboring notions such as the weird, the eerie, or the uncanny? During this two-day conference, a team of scholars working on defamiliarization across media will tackle these questions. The conference will also feature a panel with artists whose work addresses these issues.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Prof. Caroline Levine (Cornell University; Skype lecture and discussion) and Prof. Dr. Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University).

Confirmed speakers: Dr Nilgun Bayraktar (California College of the Arts / NIAS); Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi (UvA / Leiden); Prof. Dr. Esther Pereen, Lora Sariaslan (UvA); Dr Alberto Godioli, Dr Christian Kirchmeier, Dr Florian Lippert, Prof. Dr. Annie van den Oever, Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia, Ruby de Vos (RUG); alaa minawi, Jo-Lene Ong.

 

FULL PROGRAMME AND BIOS AVAILABLE HERE

 

Credits: 

  • 1 EC can be obtained by attending 1 day of the conference and writing a critical review of one chosen session (750 words, +/- 10%, not counting bibliography). 2 EC can be obtained by attending both days, and writing a critical review about two sessions (one per day; 750 words per session, +/- 10%).
  • Critical reviews should directly engage with the talks given in the selected session(s), and include references to at least two relevant academic sources. They should be submitted via email to osl@rug.nl by Monday 13 January 2020, 23:59.
  • If you wish to find out more about the concept of defamiliarization before the conference, you can start with Viktor Shklovsky’s ‘Art as Technique‘ (1917) and with the volume Ostrannenie. On “Strangeness” and the Moving Image, ed. by Annie van den Oever (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010). More reading suggestions for your critical reviews will come from the speakers’ presentations.