Call for Proposals: Contribute to the OSL programme

We encourage all OSL staff members (i.e. OSL members with an appointment at a Dutch university) to contribute their ideas, research interests and expertise to the OSL programme. OSL can offer you an opportunity to organise a workshop or seminar about topics relating to your own research for highly motivated RMA students. You can get compensated for the work this involves in your task calculation at your local department (onderwijstaakverdeling) if it concerns a ‘substantial teaching activity’. However, OSL must submit requests for compensatory teaching dispensation at the local programme to the line managers of the local programmes far in advance. Therefore, we ask you to send your proposals for substantial teaching activities for OSL for the academic year 2017-18 to our programme director Stephan Besser ( by December 1, 2016, using the attached form. Any questions concerning your proposal can also be directed to Stephan Besser. We look forward to your ideas!


Conference ‘Puzzling Europe’ (Oct 26-28, Groningen)

Literary, Political and Linguistic Perspectives on a Fragmented Continent

Interdisciplinary conference at the department of European Languages and Cultures, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
26-28 October 2016

Programme | Poster

Europe is a puzzle, in more than one sense.

Currently, public discourse in Europe is dominated by crises: conflicts over migration politics and refugee quotas, financial meltdowns, member states’ threats to exit the EU. This discourse of crisis seems to corroborate the complaints of sceptics who consider Europe a loosely stitched patchwork on the brink of disintegration. On the other hand, the story of Europe can be told as a transnational success story. From this perspective, the continent is best described as the site of a peaceful and pervasive quest for unifying ideas, common ideals, and shared cultural values.

Previous and ongoing crises have generated a new sense of ‘Europeanness’ marked by international co-operation, transcultural solidarity, and political alliances across traditional divides. The search for a ‘New Narrative for Europe’ has not only inspired the European Commission’s cultural research project of the same name, it is also a key topic for authors, artists, and intellectuals who strive to revise, reinterpret and redefine Europeanness in response to contemporary challenges.

A puzzle consists of many parts. The task of successfully assembling it involves many hands and an appreciation of both shared political norms and diversity as a positive and enabling value. This conference proposes an innovative approach to the Europe of Crisis depicted in public discourse. We aim to address the implications of political, socio-economic and cultural fragmentation in present-day Europe through an interdisciplinary combination of perspectives from the humanities and social sciences. Puzzling Europe proposes collaborative ways of understanding and teaching Europe. The conference aims to provide a platform for exchanges on topical questions across political, linguistic and cultural divides. We invite scholars from Literature, Political Science, Sociology, Linguistics, Arts, Philosophy, History and related fields to rethink the European mosaic, discuss its ramifications, dilemmas, and challenges, and propose methods of understanding the continent’s wealth of cultural relations, political frameworks, and global entanglements.

The new Department for European Languages and Cultures at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen is made up of three interrelated profiles: Language and Society, Literature and Culture and Politics and Society. Working on and across the fault-lines between these disciplines, we balance European knowledges as articulated in seven different languages. Our research and teaching methods pioneer new ways of coming to terms with the multi-faceted challenges of studying Europe.

Ravenstein Seminar (Winter School 2017) – Ecocriticism: Literature & Environment

Dates: 25-27 January 2017
Venue: Jan 25 (RMa programme): University Library: Doelenzaal, Singel 425, Amsterdam; Jan 26 & 27: University Theater: Room 3.01, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Amsterdam
Organisation: Vera Alexander (RUG), Ben de Bruyn (UM),  Eric Metz (UvA) Marrigje Paijmans (RUN & UU)
Speakers: Graham Huggan (Leeds), Kate Marshall (Notre Dame, Indiana), Isabel Hoving (Leiden) et al.
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access

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


Ecocriticism is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary field of research that reaches far beyond the study of representations of ‘nature’ in national literatures and different cultural contexts. Reflecting the urgency of the concerns they deal with, ecocritics now address issues as diverse as the cultural imagination of the extinction of species, the role of literature and non-fiction in environmental activism and the semiotic dimensions of bio-cultural processes.

In this Ravenstein Seminar/Winter School, we will explore various current approaches to the relation of literature and the environment. Analysing topics such as extinction, petroculture, pollution, and climate change we will identify pressing conceptual challenges and topical interventions in present-day environmental literary studies. Questions addressed will include the following:

  • What are the political and poetic implications of the breakdown of conventional scales of time and space in the Anthropocene?
  • How can we think ‘nature’ outside of any opposition to culture and reconceptualise matter as having agency?
  • In which ways can environmental perspectives change traditional conceptions of location and setting (space, place and planet), genre and character in literary contexts?
  • Which interdisciplinary links with postcolonial studies, feminism, posthumanism, and science and technology studies are possible in the emerging field of the ‘environmental humanities’?

In the course of this Winter School participants will get an overview of essential developments in recent ecocritical research and have the opportunity to think about and define their own interests in the field.

The 2017 Ravenstein Seminar/Winter School will start with an introductory workshop for RMA students on January 25 and continue with a two day conference on January 26-27. During the conference, international guest speakers and experts from Dutch universities will give presentations on selected aspects of the current ecocritical moment and its genealogies.

Conference programme

9:30-10:00Registration and coffee
10:15-11:15Graham Huggan (Leeds): “Sperm Count: The Scoresbys and the North”
11:15-11:30Coffee break
11:30-12:15Eric Metz (Amsterdam): Poetry and the “Forests of Symbols”: Re-evaluating Romantic Nature through the Lens of Russian Symbolism
13:30-14:30Isabel Hoving (Leiden): “The Environmental Humanities and Caribbean Literature: New Ways to Theorize Race, Colonialism, Gender, and Desire”
15:30-15:45Coffee break
14:45-15:30Vera Alexander (Groningen): “Gardens as Relational Heterotopias”
15:30-15:45Coffee break
15:45-16:30Panel discussion
18:00Conference Dinner
FRIDAY JAN 27, 2017
10:00-11:00Kate Marshall (Notre Dame, Indiana): “Interiority after Extinction: On the Limits of Ecocritical Narratology”
11:00-11:15Coffee break
11:15-12:00Ben de Bruyn (Maastricht): “The Smog of War: 9/11, Slow Violence and Climate Change in Recent Fiction”
12:00-12:15Coffee break
12:15-13:00Astrid Bracke (Nijmegen): “‘the dull old facts of altered climate’: Climate crisis and 21st-century narratives”
14:00-14:45Tom Idema (Utrecht): “Understanding Climate Change”
14:45-15:00Coffee break
15:00-15:45Kristine Steenbergh (Amsterdam): “Interrelating in the Anthropocene: Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods
15:45 -16:30Wrapping up


Vera Alexander (University of Groningen) – Gardens as Relational Heterotopias

Gardens are places where individuals confront their ideas and ideals about the environment, their notions about what is and is not natural and, on a more abstract plane, their visions of growth and aesthetics of improvement.

In this presentation I will analyse garden writings and look at the ways in which they problematise anthropocentric notions about human beings as creatures in charge of the environment. I will tie my analysis to two intersecting processes: trying to relate to place and trying to come to terms with a non-human Other.

Astrid Bracke (HAN University of Applied Sciences) – ‘the dull old facts of altered climate’: Climate crisis and 21st-century narratives

To the foetal narrator of Ian McEwan’s Nutshell (2016) climate crisis has already become shorthand, a familiar, dull story of altered climate, vanishing forests, animals and ice. In my talk I explore examples such as this as illustrations of climate crisis as a dominant twenty-first-century narrative. The phrase ‘climate crisis’ has become narrative shorthand for a wide range of issues and awareness of climate crisis pervades the social, political and cultural imagination.

Yet the climate crisis narrative also poses challenges to the contemporary imagination, even to the very act of narrating itself. These challenges go beyond the oft-repeated environmental humanities argument for ‘new narratives’ more suitable to the current environmental moment, nor can they be captured in terms of the ‘crisis of the imagination’ that some ecocritics believe climate crisis to be. Drawing on the burgeoning field of econarratology I discuss how postmillennial climate crisis narratives use and undermine stories and storytelling, and as such challenge the ecocritical project as a whole. Throughout the talk I use case studies from my forthcoming book, Climate Crisis and the Twenty-First-Century British Novel.

Ben de Bruyn (Maastricht University) – The Smog of War: 9/11, Slow Violence aClimate Change in Recent Fictionnd Climate Change in Recent Fiction

In its ongoing attempt to commemorate the traumas related to key historical events, recent Anglophone literature has been particularly interested in narrating two ongoing wars of global scale: various interconnected conflicts in the Middle East and the less visible war humans have been waging on the environment. Such military and ecological conflicts might appear to be very different but the work of recent thinkers and writers suggests that they are closely interconnected. In his study of air power and modernist culture, Paul Saint-Amour has identified a condition of ‘pre-traumatic stress syndrome’ that resonates with current fears over our destabilized climate, and Rob Nixon’s insightful analysis of ‘slow violence’ indicates that notions like war are relevant in an environmental context too. Most strikingly, Roy Scranton’s account of the Anthropocene implies that the most characteristic human figure in a time of destructive climate change may well be the soldier. And both Scranton and Saint-Amour explicitly tie these interlinked wars to anxieties over the disappearance of cultural archives and human memory. Developing these insights, and moving the debate on climate change literature beyond a narrowly conceived ‘clifi’, this paper begins by summarizing Robert Marzec’s work on ‘environmentality’ before examining ecology and memory in two recent war novels, Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life (2014) and Mark de Silva’s Square Wave (2015). In a final step, I will broaden the focus by turning to the environments of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015) and Nothing Ever Dies (2016).

Isabel Hoving (Leiden University) – The Environmental Humanities and Caribbean Literature: New Ways to Theorize Race, Colonialism, Gender, and Desire

My presentation will not take its point of departure in theory (in this case: ecocriticism), but in art. I will begin with an open question: Why do we find so many references to nature and the environment in the Caribbean creative fiction that tries to come to terms with the contemporary age of globalization? Even when these novels do not seem to be concerned with environmental issues at all, they abound with fragrant, creepy or dark references to flowers, insects, trees, gardens, and mud. Indeed, ecocritics will read these references as a critical reflection on the destructive environmental effects of colonialism and globalization. While such a reading is undoubtedly enlightening, it does not give us the whole story. Many Caribbean texts suggest that one cannot analyze environmental destruction without also analyzing the workings of racism, sexism and homophobia–and the other way around. I hope to show that the environmental humanities need to include postcolonial theory, gender studies and queer studies to make sense of the full complexity of Caribbean writing about the environment. Through a discussion of several literary examples, I propose to read these references within an intersectional frame that brings together ecocriticism with Caribbean and postcolonial studies, the study of globalization, trauma theory, the study of gender and sexuality, posthumanism and new materialism.

Graham Huggan (University of Leeds) – Sperm Count: The Scoresbys and the North

Scoresby is a familiar name for all those interested in the confluence of British maritime history and Northern exploration. Two Scoresbys, to be precise: William Senior, a towering figure in the history of late eighteenth-century commercial whaling; and William Junior, a post-Enlightenment ‘improver’ whose religious beliefs would neither compromise his dogged scientific rationalism nor his considerable entrepreneurial flair. Two Norths as well: for Whitby, the Scoresbys’ home town in Yorkshire, was not only one of the most important eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British whaling ports, but would also provide the base for both men’s enterprising forays into the Arctic, which –in Scoresby Junior’s case in particular– sought to reconcile industrial (mercantile) ambitions with scientific (natural-historical) claims. This talk uses the two Scoresbys to explore some of the hyper-masculinist myths that continue to surround narratives of whale hunting and Arctic exploration, embedding both of these within the long history of capitalist modernity as well as contemporaneous networks of British imperial history and European mercantile trade.

Tom Idema (Utrecht University) – Understanding Climate Change

Climate change has been a major factor in the advent of an environmental/nonhuman turn in the humanities. This new orientation has raised the question of how scholarly work in the humanities relates to new knowledge about nonhuman phenomena in the sciences. How do scientific advancements in geoscience, ecology, genomics, and other fields affect our understanding of climate change? With the 2015 publication of Adam Trexler’s Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change and Timothy Clark’s Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept, ecocriticism has begun to take on the challenges of climate change in earnest –not just the challenges to society, but also to ecocriticism itself. In this presentation I want to critically assess if and how recent work in the environmental humanities addresses the role of the sciences in the onto-epistemological construction of the Anthropocene, in dialogue with cultural and humanistic modes of understanding. I will argue that although some studies offer ways to think together with the sciences, these options remain rather underdeveloped. To illustrate my point, I will offer some insight into recent climate change research, which helps not only to further substantiate ecocritical claims by about the Anthropocene (naturecultures, hyperobjects, entangled scales, critical thresholds), but also to mobilize those claims for usage beyond the humanities.

Kate Marshall (University of Notre Dame) – Interiority after Extinction: On the Limits of Ecocritical Narratology

Narratives of extinction – cultural as well as fictional – have become commonplace topics for ecocritical approaches to literary study, subject to ever-more nuanced formalizations. One challenge for contemporary fictional extinction narratives is the project of rendering narrative subjects after the extinction event. This can be the case for landscapes and species, and presents peculiar problems when the extinction event includes the human. In this talk, I explore how a range of novels approach rendering post-extinction narrative subjects, asking who and what these foci are, and how the narrative techniques employed to render them provide access to larger questions about the role of extinction narrative in literary culture more broadly. By shifting focus from the extinction plot to the extinction subject within narrative, I locate a tension between apocalyptic temporalities and competing forms of prolepsis bearing on narrative subjects either transforming or imagining themselves transformed into post-extinction entities. Examples include Michel Houellebecq’s posthuman narrators of The Elementary Particles, the sentient landscapes of Jeff Vander Meer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, and the hybrid animals and humanoids of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam novels. Each of these texts incorporates elements of traditional extinction narrative and the tropes of climate fiction, but also challenges them on granular levels of interiority, focalization, and experiments in perspective.

Eric Metz (University of Amsterdam) – Poetry and the “Forests of Symbols”: Re-evaluating Romantic Nature through the Lens of Russian Symbolism

In many ways, the Symbolist tradition in world literature can be seen as a rejection, but also a continuation and intensification of Romanticism. This also seems to hold true for the symbolist treatment of “nature” in literature: arguably, the Symbolists introduced the cult of the artificial and “anti-natural”, while while at the same time they were also explicitly building upon presumed ecocentric tendencies in Romanticism. In my contribution, I will focus on the Russian poet and essayist Konstantin Balmont (1867-1942), who was one of the main propagators of Symbolism in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. Several of his essays show an interesting dichotomic view of Romanticism from the perspective of the (then) newest literary current: great Romantic poets, such as Byron and Pushkin, are criticised for the anthropocentrism of their nature poetry, whereas other Romantics, like P.B. Shelley, Fet, and Tyutchev are presented as models for literary innovation because of their perceived ecocentrism – the term Balmont uses here, in fact, is “poetic pantheism”. There are three questions that I would like to address. First, to which extent can Balmont’s argument be read as an implicit critique of Baudelaire’s seminal poem “Correspondences”, in which nature is depicted as a temple where man passes through “forests of symbols”? Second, how can Balmont’s musings on nature’s fundamental autonomy be connected – on a typological and/or on a genetic level – with Friedrich Schiller’s poetics of authenticity, and with Vladimir Solovyov’s reflections on wilderness and its relation to poetry? Third, should Balmont himself be re-evaluated as an ecocritic avant la lettre whose views on nature and literature could still be useful for contemporary literary historiography?

Kristine Steenbergh (VU Amsterdam) – Interrelating in the Anthropocene: Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Stone Gods’

Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007) is a novel of the Anthropocene, telling stories of colonisation, objectification and domination of new worlds. The interlocking narratives in the novel, together with intertextual references to colonial texts, shape a pattern of a repeating world – or, to quote the novel, the sense that “everything is imprinted forever with what it once was.” The Stone Gods has both been read as exemplary of a geotraumatic and melancholy Anthropocene and as a novel of ‘queer exuberance’ that affirms values opposing the structures of contemporary biopower. In this paper, I will reassess this critical disagreement through a reading of the novel from an ecocritical perspective, focusing on its intertextuality with the seventeenth-century poetry of John Donne. Reading the novel alongside Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble (2016) and Ann Laura Stoler’s Duress: Imperial Durabilities in Our Times (2016), I will argue that the intertextual repetition of Donne’s colonialist love poems shapes new posthuman modes of interrelating. To use Stoler’s words, the poems function in the novel as “histories that fold back on themselves and, in that refolding, reveal new surfaces and new planes. Recursion opens to novel contingent possibilities […]” (26). The novel invites us to think about the role of literature –contemporary as well as historical– in shaping new modes of staying with the trouble in the Anthropocene.

Deleuze Seminar 2016 – 2017

Deleuze & Fascism

Rosi Braidotti and Rick Dolphijn
Academic year 2016-2017

Time: Tuesday afternoons, 14.00-17.00
Location: Stijlkamer van Ravensteijn , Kromme Nieuwe Gracht 80, Utrecht University.
Organised by: the OSL (Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap) with the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University
Convened by: Professor Rosi Braidotti with Dr. Rick Dolphijn (Utrecht University) and guest speakers
Registration: please send an e-mail, including a biographical text of up to 100 words stating your affiliation and motivation for the seminar to and Professor Braidotti’s assistant:

For more information about Deleuze seminars and other activities please consult the website of the Deleuze Circle:


The seminar consists of ten sessions in English which will run throughout the academic year 2016-17 in Utrecht. Research masters and PhD students, as well as staff members, are welcome to participate. Students can get credits for their participation by attending regularly (attendance will be registered) and writing a final paper. Each session of the three-hour seminar will consist of an in-depth reading of a text by Gilles Deleuze (with or without Felix Guattari), sometimes alongside secondary texts by other theorists or philosophers.

Participants are expected to acquire the literature themselves, but wherever possible we will make pdf files available.

Abbreviations of key Deleuze and Guattari texts:

ATP: A Thousand Plateaus
WIP: What is Philosophy?
N: Nietzsche and Philosophy
Cinema: volume 1 and 2
Desert Islands
Two Regimes


SESSION 1: Introduction to the non-fascist Life
4 October, 2016

Reading material:

  • Preface to Anti-Oedipus by Michel Foucault.
  • Parr, Adrian. 2010. The Deleuze Dictionary, Revised Edition. Edinburgh: Edinburg University Press. Section on: “Fascism”


SESSION 2: How Much Fascism?
(Braidotti with Maria Hlavajova)
1 November , 2016

How Much Fascism, was an exhibition that took place at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht in 29012.
The exhibition engages in a dialogue with a provocative claim made by Slovenian sociologist, literary theorist, translator, and political activist Rastko Močnik in his collection of texts titled How Much Fascism? (1995). Močnik suggests that we no longer need to ask ourselves whether “new local populism, new “fascism,” [and] “new right-wing extremism” drive the contemporary condition, but rather, how much they drive that condition. We must attend not only to the open manifestations of fascism, though we witness more and more of such instances and one needs to ponder how societies that permit and tolerate such phenomena still “qualify” as democracies. More importantly, WHW suggest, “we need to turn our attention to the silent fascism that is becoming normalized through the systematic violence seeping into the laws and everyday administration practices of the nation-state, and to assess the mechanisms of oppression and the various symptoms of contemporary fascism that are being presented as unavoidable, pragmatic necessities.” In sync with these thoughts, the artists in the exhibition inquire about the possibility of art vis-à-vis such circumstances and invest in the cognitive power of art and the potential within the aesthetic experience of questioning reality.

Reading Material:

  • How Much Fascism? (BAK publication) 


SESSION 3: The Despotic State Machine
(Braidotti and Dolphijn)
20 December, 2016

Reading Material:

  • Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari 1983 Anti-Oedipus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (Originally published in 1972, by Les Editions de Minuit, Paris.). Chapter 3: Savages, Barbarians Civilized men; section 9: “The civilized capitalist machine” and section 10: “Capitalist Representation”.
  • Parr, Adrian. 2010. The Deleuze Dictionary, Revised Edition. Edinburgh: Edinburg University Press. Section on: “Stratification” (Braidotti and Dolphijn) 


SESSION 4: The Desire for a Strong Leader
(Braidotti and Dolphijn)
17 January, 2017

Reading Material:

  • AO: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari; Chapter 1 The Desiring Machines, section 1: “Desiring-production’
  • AO: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari; Chapter 3: Savages, Barbarians Civilized men; section 6: “The barbarian despotic machine” (Braidotti and Dolphijn)


SESSION 5: The Over-coding of flows
(Braidotti and Dolphijn)
14 February, 2017

Reading Material:

  • Desert Islands -On Capitalism and Desire 262-273
  • AO: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari; Chapter 3: Savages, Barbarians Civilized men; section 8: “The Urstaat”
  • Parr, Adrian. 2010. The Deleuze Dictionary, Revised Edition. Edinburgh: Edinburg University Press. Section on: “Bodies without organs”


SESSION 6: Micro-Fascism and Fascist Desire
(Braidotti and Dolphijn)
7 March, 2017

Reading Material:

  • Guattari: Chaosmos, “Chaosophy”, pp. 208-232
  • Parr, Adrian. 2010. The Deleuze Dictionary, Revised Edition. Edinburgh: Edinburg University Press. Section on: “Micropolitics” 


SESSION 7: Segmentarity
18 April , 2017

Reading Material:

  • ATP- 1933: Micropolitics and Segmentarity
  • Koolhaas, Rem, “Field Trip A(A) Memoir”, in S,M,L,XL (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995), 215-233.


The conference will be held at ArtEZ AKI Academy of Art and Design, Hulsmaatstraat 35, 7523 WB Enschede
more details below


SESSION 8: Affirmative Ethics
(Braidotti and Dolphijn)
6 June, 2017

Reading Material:

  • Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. “Ch.2: On Difference between the Ethics and a Morality;
  • Ch. 3: The Letters on Evil (correspondence with Blyenbergh);
  • Ch. 6: Spinoza and Us”. In: Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. San Francisco: City Lights Books. (Originally published in 1970, by Presses Universitaires de France.) 


ArtEZ AKI Academy of Art and Design, Hulsmaatstraat 35, 7523 WB Enschede

The Annual National Deleuze Scholarship Conference is a conference intended to bring together scholars, students, activists, artists, and others working on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. All presentations will be held in English.
Each year, the conference is hosted at a different university in the Netherlands. In the academic year 2016-17 the conference is organized by ArtEZ AKI Academy of Art and Design, in Enschede.
This year the conference will be called: THE GRIN WITHOUT A CAT.
For more details see



CfP HERMES Summer School – Literature and Art in Context (Aarhus 2017)

Venue: Aarhus University, Department of Communication and Culture
(Langelandsgade 139, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark);
Date: June 12-16, 2017
For: PhD candidates

Literature and art are always situated in a context, both literally, metaphorically and by reference. But what does this ‘situatedness’ mean? How do literature and art imagine or critically reflect a community, a state or a world and what does the social and cultural context of the reader or the spectator mean for the interpretation of a work of literature or art? What is the political potential of literature and art? Do globalization and new media change our understanding of what context is? And do new methods of comparatism or Big Data entail new ways of perceiving the concept of context?

In this graduate seminar we wish to focus on the way ‘context’ is understood in literary and cultural studies. In a certain sense, contexts have become wider. It has been argued that aesthetics is always already cosmopolitan or globalized (Papastergiadis 2012), and that Big Data-methods in literature departments will open up literary studies to the great unread (Manovich 2015). New comparatists have argued in favor of a new universalism or a planetary consciousness (Apter, Spivak) and for a relational, transcultural understanding of context (Baucom, Dobie).

Yet there is also a new focus on the importance of ‘nearness’, of micro-historical circulation, personal life-stories (Schaffer, Smith), concrete political contexts, personal precariousness (Butler) and affective, phenomenological and performative effects of literature and art on individuals (Ngai, Ahmed). In between the global and the local, we find the nation state that used to be the geographical cornerstone of comparatism as well as the ethnic or political communities often discussed in cultural studies.

Talking about context also often means addressing the relation between aesthetics and politics. New approaches have pointed out the inherent political importance of aesthetic form and of giving voice to the unheard (Rancière) and of creating new forms of collective subjectivity and agency (Mouffe, Douzinas). Literature and art matter in the world and so do storytelling, street art, performative media actions, commercials, documentary movies, political self fashioning etc. that all draw on different forms of aesthetics.

We invite participants to critically discuss the role of context in the interpretation, canonization and circulation of literary and artistic works as well as the methodological implications of contextual interpretations.

Topics could be but are not limited to:

  • Aesthetics and politics
  • The politics of literary form
  • Big Data and new approaches to context
  • The contextualized reader or spectator
  • Aesthetics in a globalized context
  • Microhistories
  • Circulation of literature and art in different contexts
  • Context’s function within comparative method
  • Mediated contexts and their relation to literary works or artworks
  • Historical forms and discussions about context
  • The role of the reader/spectator
  • Ethnicity, race-, gender- based context

Keynote speakers:

  • Bruce Robbins, Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York
  • Susana Araujo, Senior researcher at the Centre for Comparative Studies of the Faculty of Arts University of Lisbon
  • Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Professor with Special Responsibilities, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University
  • Professor NN, Copenhagen University

Participation fee: 270 Euro (includes participation, excursion, lunch all days, one dinner and lodging at hostel).

Travel expenses of OSL PhD candidates will be covered by OSL.

Paper proposals (abstracts) of approx. 300 words should be sent to Karen-Margrethe Simonsen (; Jakob Ladegaard ( or Mads Rosendahl Thomsen ( no later than February 15, 2017. Please send a copy of your proposal to OSL programme director Stephan Besser (



Ahmed, Sarah. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univesity Press, 2014.

Apter, Emily. The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature, Princeton University Press, 2006.

Baucom, Ian. Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London/New York: Verso, 2004.

Dobie, Madeleine, Trading Places. Colonialism and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century, Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press,  2010.

Douzinas, Costas. Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis. Cambridge, UK/Malden: Polity Press, 2013.

Manovich, Lev. “The Science of Culture? Social Computing, Digital Humanities, and Cultural Analytics.”

Mouffe, Chantal. Agonistics: Thinking The World Politically. London – New York: Verso, 2013.

Ngai, Sianne. Ugly Feelings, Cambridge, Mass/London: 2005.

Papastergiadis, Nikos. Cosmopolitanism and Culture, Cambridge UK/Malden: Polity Press, 2012.

Rancière, Jacques. Politique de la littérature. Paris: Éditions Galilée, 2007. (Politics of Literature, Polity Press, 2011).

Schaffer, Kay and Sidonie Smith: Human Rights and Narrated Lives. The Ethics of Recognition. New York: Palgrave MacMillan 2004.

Spivak, Gayatri, Death of a Discipline, New York: Columbia Press, 2003.

De academicus als bloemlezer – Workshop contemporaine Nederlandstalige poëzie

Datum & tijd: Vrijdag 18 november, 13.15-17.00
Locatie: Universiteit Utrecht, Drift 25 – zaal 105.
Voor: Promovendi en Research Master studenten die lid zijn van OSL, hebben voorrang bij inschrijving.
Docenten: Jeroen Dera (RUN/UU) & Kila van der Starre (UU)

In deze workshop maak je kennis met onderzoek naar de contemporaine poëzie uit Nederland en Vlaanderen. Ook denk je na over de vraag welke rol literatuurwetenschappers hebben in de canonisering van contemporaine literatuur.

Centraal staat het boek Dichters van het nieuwe millennium (Vantilt, 2016), dat deze zomer verscheen onder redactie van Jeroen Dera, Sarah Posman en Kila van der Starre. Daarin wordt het werk van 24 hedendaagse Nederlandstalige dichters door even zoveel letterkundigen geanalyseerd, zowel inhoudelijk als formeel. In het eerste deel van de workshop reflecteren we op de keuzes die de samenstellers hebben gemaakt. Waarom is de ene dichter wel opgenomen en de andere niet? Welke criteria zijn daarbij aangelegd, zowel poëzietheoretisch (poëtica, singulariteit, plaats in de traditie) als ideologisch (gender, culturele herkomst, politieke overtuigingen)? Abstraherend van Dichters van het nieuwe millennium zullen we aan de hand van deze vragen te spreken komen over de literair-historische en ideologische implicaties van literatuurwetenschappelijk redactiewerk.

In het tweede deel van de workshop verleggen we de focus naar de contemporaine Nederlandstalige poëzie zelf. Welke trends kunnen aangewezen worden in Dichters van het nieuwe millennium, welke onderzoeksvragen leveren deze op en wat gebeurt er als we werk van niet-opgenomen dichters met die resultaten confronteren?

OSL Seminar 2016-17 – The Spatial Turn and Beyond: New Perspectives on Literature and Space

Organisation: Dr Alberto Godioli (RUG) & Dr Stephan Besser (UvA)
Venue: University of Amsterdam, see below
Teaching Period: Sept – Nov 2016
Opent to: PhD Candidates and RMa students, OSL members will have first access 
Registration will open July 14, 2016

The term ‘spatial turn’ designates an increased interest in space, place and spatiality across various disciplines from the social sciences to cultural studies, as first exemplified by a number of highly influential authors from the 1950s and 1960s (Bachelard, Foucault, Lefebvre, Braudel, etc.). Such an interest in space has significantly developed over the last 20 years through a series of groundbreaking studies, many of which brought about remarkable innovations in the vocabulary and methodologies of literary studies – think, for instance, of the growing use of maps and atlases to study the literary imagination of real places (e.g. Moretti 1998, Piatti 2008), the recent applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to the humanities, or the ever-expanding fields of geocriticism and ecocriticism.

This seminar will provide a broad overview of the most recent developments in the spatial humanities, with particular (but not exclusive) regard to literature. By so doing, we will engage with two complementary questions: How can the study of space shed new light on the interpretation of literary texts? And conversely, what can literature tell us about the ways human beings experience spatiality  in different cultural and political contexts?  In order to tackle these questions the participants will familiarize themselves with different kinds of spatial literary studies After a preliminary discussion of the spatial humanities as a field and the key notions involved in it (Week 1), the meetings will be structured as follows:

Sessions 2 and 3 will be devoted to the interplay between real places and their literary representations, forming the multi-layered cultural object that has been defined by Edward Soja as ‘thirdspace’, or ‘real-and-imagined space’. Session 2 will focus on the application of such notions to close reading practices in specific contexts, while session 3 will deal with practices of distant reading and the use of Geographic Information Systems as a tool for corpus analysis.

Session 4 will tackle spatiality in the light of cognitive studies, in order to illustrate the ways in which the visualization and mapping of literary space is achieved in the minds of readers. Particular attention will be placed on the so-called deictic shift, i.e.the shifting of the reader’s focus from the actual space in which the reading happens to the imagined space visualized by the text.

Lastly, in session 5 and 6 we will move from the literary framing of specific places to the connections and movements between places, and to their interconnectedness within the ‘world system’ (Jameson) as a whole. More specifically, session 5 will address the notions of mobility and border crossing, with particular regard to travel writing. Session 6 will focus on how literary texts can shape our ‘environmental imagination of the global’ (Heise), thus giving us a sense of the planet as an interconnected whole. While wrapping up our overview, this last meeting will also represent an prelude to the 2017 Ravenstein School on ecocriticism and the environmental humanities.


  1. Introduction: The Spatial Turn in the Humanities (Dr Alberto Godioli, RUG & Dr Stephan Besser, UvA) – Sept 9, 13:30-17:00*
  2. Street Life in Postcolonial Bombay (Dr Caroline Herbert, Leeds) – Sept 23, 13:30-17:00
  3. Distant Reading & Corpus Analysis: Mapping the English Lake District – a Literary GIS (Prof. Ian Gregory, Lancaster) – Oct 7, 13:30-17:00
  4. Sense of Place and the Place of Mind: Narrative, Space, and Embodiment (Dr Marco Caracciolo, Freiburg) – Oct 28, 13:30-17:00
  5. Off the Grid: Mobility, Vagrancy and the Representation of Being Lost (Prof. Henk van der Liet, UvA) – Nov 11, 13:30-17:00
  6. Figures of the Global (Dr Esther Peeren, UvA & Simon Ferdinand, MA, UvA) –Dec 2, 13:30-17:00

* starting times might be subject to change


  • Sept 9, 13:30-17:00 – PC Hoofthuis room 4.11, Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam
  • Sept 23, 13:30-17:00 – BG2 Room 0.08, Turfdraagsterspad 15-17, Amsterdam
  • Oct 7, 13:30-17:00 – University Library, Belle van Zuylenzaal, Singel, 425 Amsterdam
  • Oct 28, 13:30-17:00 – University Library, Belle van Zuylenzaal, Singel, 425 Amsterdam
  • Nov 11, 13:30-17:00 – OMHP Room E0.13, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Amsterdam
  • Dec 2, 13:30-17:00 – OMHP Room E0.12, Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Amsterdam

Masterclass – Literary Translation and Creative Writing (with Dr Cecilia Rossi, UEA)

Date: October 21, 10:00-17:00
Venue: Utrecht University, Ravensteijnzaal, Kromme Nieuwegracht 80
Open to: PhD candidates and RMa students; members of OSL will have first access
Organisation: Prof. Ton Naaijkens & Eva Wissenburg (MA)

EC: 2


This event will consist of a lecture by Dr Cecilia Rossi (University of East Anglia) on the ‘creative turn’ in Translation Studies and a masterclass and discussions with dr Rossi. (Please note that this event takes place independently from the course ‘Creative Writing: Practice, Research and Reflection’!).

10.00 – 12.30   Lecture: Literary Translation and Creative Writing: Disciplinary Boundaries

This talk, followed by a discussion with the students, will address the following points:

  • The ‘creative turn’ in Translation Studies (see Loffredo and Perteghella 2006, Nikolaou 2006 and 2008);
  • The historical roots of the relationship between the two disciplines;
  • The mutual borrowings from the pedagogies and conceptual frameworks of the two disciplines;
  • The creative process: the translator as writer and the writer as translator;
  • The creative writing workshop model in literary translation training. Here I will look in particular at ‘literary creativity’, part of the ‘transfer competence’ in the PETRA-E Framework;
  • The institutional housing of the two fields. I will look in particular at the programmes, both at MA and PhD levels, in Literary Translation, at UEA.

12.30 – 13.30    Lunchbreak

13.30 – 15.00    Creative Writing Exercise for Translators: Feedback on the exercise proposed and which students should bring to the session. The discussion will aim to cover the following points arising from the exercise:

  • working with texts
  • reading as a translator
  • constraints and creativity
  • translation as creative rewriting

15.00 – 15.30   Coffee break

15.30 – 17.00   Creative Writing Workshop



  •  On the ‘creative turn’ in Translation Studies:

Loffredo, E. and Perteghella, M. (eds.) (2006), Translation and Creativity: Perspectives on Creative Writing and Translation Studies. London and New York: Continuum.

Nikolaou, P. (2008), ‘Turning inward: Liaisons of Literary Translation and Life-Writing’ in Nikolaou, P. and Kyritsi, M. (eds.), Translating Selves. London and New York: Continuum, 53-70.

Bush, P. (2006), ‘The Writer of Translations’ in Bassnett, S. and Bush, P. (eds.), The Translator as Writer London and New York: Continuum, 23-32.

  • On Creativity and Constraints:

Boase-Beier, Jean and Holman, Michael (eds.) (1998), The Practices of Literary Translation: Constraints and Creativity. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing. Clayton: Monash University Publishing.

Wilson, R. and Gerber, L. (eds.) (2012), Creative Constraints: Translation and Authorship.

  • On Creative Writing and Literary Translation Workshops:

Jose, Nicholas. ‘Translation Plus: On Literary Translation and Creative Writing’ The AALITRA Review: A Journal of Literary Translation 10 (Melbourne: Monash University, May 2015): 5-17.

Sedarat, Roger (2015), ‘Translation vs. Creative Writing Workshops: Structural Differences’ in:      



Creative Writing Exercise for Translators (to be completed for feedback and discussion at the 13.30 – 15.00 session on 21/10/2016)

Workshop on Creative Constraints (the pdf-file with G. Perec’s poem will be made availbe to the participants before the workshop)

In preparation for this workshop I would like you to consider the following point: It is often believed that writers enjoy complete freedom to write whatever they want in whichever way they choose to, while literary translators are constrained, that is, limited or bound, by the source text.

In the Introduction to the book The Practices of Literary Translation: Constraints and Creativity editors Jean Boase-Beier and Michael Holman affirm that it is not necessarily true that “the translator is subject to constraints which do not apply to the original author” (p. 1) since

“original writers do not simply write what they want: they are bound by all manner of constraints: political, social, poetic and linguistic, as well as the constraints of the text itself, which creates a context potentially confining and determining the form and meaning of every utterance.” (p. 6)

The main aim of this workshop is to show some of the constraints original writers work with and how being bound by constraints can, and in fact does, release the writer’s (or translator’s) creativity.

For the exercise I would like you to focus on formal constraints, that is, constraints which operate at the formal or structural level of the text.

Exercise ‘On the Difficulty of Imagining an Ideal City’

Read the English version of Georges Perec’s ‘On the Difficulty of Imagining an Ideal City’ translated by John Sturrock in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (London: Penguin Classics, 2008), pp. 186-187 (see pdf file).

  • What formal constraints can you find in this text?
  • Re-write the poem following these constraints. You can keep the title as it is or change the word ‘city’ for a word of your choice. For example, you can write a piece entitled ‘On the Difficulty of Imagining an Ideal Book / Poem / Author / Editor / Reader/ House / Lover, and so on.
  • The important thing in this exercise is to keep to the formal constraints in Perec’s text.






Conference – Life Writing and European Identities (A.S. Byatt)

On the occasion of the awarding of the Erasmus Prize 2016 to A.S. Byatt

Date: November 16, 2016
10:00 – 19:00
(Pre-meeting only for students who follow the Masterclass:  November 2 from 14:00 – 17:00, at Academic Building – Westerdijkkamer, Domplein 29 Utrecht)
Paushuize, Kromme Nieuwegracht 49, Utrecht
Open to:
PhD candidates & RMa students, members of OSL and the Huizinga Institute will have first access
The conference is open to anyone who’s interested. If you would like to attend the conference, please send an e-mail to

The British novelist A.S. Byatt will receive the 2016 Erasmus Prize for her contribution to the genre of life writing. To mark this occasion, Praemium Erasmianum, the Huizinga Instituut voor Cultuurgeschiedenis and the Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap (OSL) are organizing a one-day seminar to examine the role of life writing in the construction of European identities.

Byatt’s oeuvre provides ample opportunity to explore the ways life writing constitutes and performs identities on multiple levels. As Byatt once wrote, she became ‘European’ through reading. The stories of Homer, Racine, Goethe and Proust provided her with an imaginative entry into cultural forms available outside of Britain and awakened a sense of Europeanness that shaped her literary consciousness. Engaging with this European tradition, Byatt has blurred boundaries between fact and fiction-oriented genres and experimented with different forms of writing lives. Since many of her novels also deal with crucial events and epochs in European history, Byatts work can be seen as an invitation to reflect on the interpretation and (re)construction of the past that we need to make sense of our lives, both individually and collectively.

The conference will focus on life writing, literature and European identities. The contributions will address the following topics:

  • ‘Life writing: genres, forms and traditions’: which European traditions of narrating subjectivity can be distinguished?
  • ‘The representation of Europe’: what images, conceptions and narratives of Europe and European history can be identified in life writing?
  • ‘New Forms and Practices of Self-Narration’: what forms of tale-telling and practices of self-representation do we have today?

(Provisional) Programme

Moderator: Ann Rigney (Utrecht University)

10.00-10.30: Opening

Part I: Byatt and life writing; genres, forms and traditions

  • Max Saunders (King’s College London): ‘Auto/biography and fiction in modernist and post-modernist literature’
  • Léon Hanssen (Tilburg University): ‘Piet Mondrian and the ideal of an artist’s life: on being Dutch, metropolitan or sacred’

12.15-13.30: Lunch break

Part II: Representations of Europe and the politics of belonging

  • Elisabeth Bekers (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) ‘Perspectives on Europe in post-colonial life writing’
  • Gabriele Linke (Universität Rostock) ‘Narrative strategies and belonging in autobiographical writing in post-communist Europe’

15.00-15.15: Coffee and Tea

Part III: New Forms of Self-Presentation

  • Odile Heynders (Tilburg University) ‘The Life of a Man: Karl Ove Knausgaard’
  • Anna Poletti (Utrecht University) ‘What can a critic do? New forms of life writing and scholarship’

16.45- 17.00: Summing up and closure

17.00-19.00: Drinks


Participation of RMa students (OSL and Huizinga):

RMa students can obtain 2 EC for active participation in the conference, the preparation of readings and the writing of an essay on the topic of event.

  • Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography. A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives 2001.2nd edition University of Minnesota Press 2010.
  • Barbara Caine, Biography and History. Palgrave MacMillan 2010.
  • Max Saunders, Self-Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010, pp. 1-29.
  • A.S. Byatt, ‘Hoe ik Europees werd’, NEXUS 205, nr. 42, pp. 129-136.
  • A.S. Byatt, What is a European’, in The New York Times, 13 October 2002.
  • Recommended: A.S. Byatt, Possession (1990) en The Biographer’s Tale (2001)
Image: Barbara van Santen

Image: Barbara van Santen

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers – Framen, schrappen en herschrijven

Datum: 12, 14 December (10:00-17:00) & 16 december (13:15-18:00)
Locatie: Universiteit Utrecht, 12 & 16 december JK – 021, Janskerkhof 2-3 Utrecht | 14 December ICU DESCARTES 208, Campusplein 7-8 Utrecht
Bestemd voor: Promovendi en RMa studenten, verbonden aan OSL
Voertaal: Nederlands
EC: 3 (aanwezigheid bij alle bijeenkomsten vereist)
Registratie; Bij aanmelding graag vermelden welke RMa opleiding je volgt.

Deze cursus is volgeboekt. Indien je ons een e-mail stuurt met je Naam, Universiteit, RMa opleiding en van welke Landelijke onderzoekschool je lid bent, kunnen we je op de wachtlijst plaatsen.

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.