Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte | Twittering for Peace? The construction of meaning and Otherness in digital media representations of the Colombian Peace Process

Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte | Twittering for Peace? The construction of meaning and Otherness in digital media representations of the Colombian Peace Process | University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) | Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia Martin, Dr. Konstantin Mierau | From September 1st 2018 until August 30th 2022 | E.Pinilla.Duarte@rug.nl

My research project studies the production of narratives of the Colombian peace process in Colombian digital media, both in official communication and in the comments left by consumers of news on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram websites. It considers these narratives to be vital cultural practices; narratives shape the construction of the meaning of the world, of the self and of otherness, and determine specific cultural practices. My hypothesis is that the narratives I propose to study contribute to maintaining a culture of violence, on the one hand, whilst also constructing new possibilities for social renewal, on the other. In order to carry out this study, I propose an interdisciplinary and qualitative methodology, which combines discourse analysis, conversation analysis, cognitive linguistics, communication theory, and theory of cultural narratives.

Main research question:

To what extent do the online narratives related to the Colombian peace agreement,  published both on mainstream channels and on the comment sections of their related social networks (such as Facebook), determine the construction of meaning and otherness? 


Lamyk Bekius | Genetic Criticism applied to born-digital works of literature

Lamyk Bekius | Genetic Criticism applied to born-digital works of literature | Track Changes: Textual Scholarship and the Challenge of Digital Literary Writing | Huygens ING (KNAW) and University of Antwerp, department of Literary Studies | prof. dr Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Huygens ING/UvA), prof. dr Dirk van Hulle (UAntwerp) and dr Mariëlle Leijten (UAntwerp) | November 2018 – October 2022 | lamyk.bekius[at]huygens.knaw.nl

Up until now, literary scholars working in textual scholarship studied the genetics of literary texts that where produced using analogue methods. However, contemporary literature is produced within an environment where digital methods dominate; the NWO-funded project Track Changes: Textual Scholarship and the Challenge of Digital Literary Writing therefore investigates if and how this medium change affects the creative process of literary writing. My subproject Genetic Criticism applied to born-digital works of literature explores to what extent the traditional textual genetic methodology can be applied to a born-digital work and where the methodology needs to change. It will focus on the following research questions:

  1. How can we apply existing methods and theories of textual scholarship to analyse digital writing processes and in which ways will the analysis of digital writing processes enrich the existing methods and theories?
  2. How can we systematically extract intermediate versions of a born-digital text and how can we apply intelligent digital text analysis on these text versions and create new knowledge about the genesis of texts and the creative process?

The research will study the genesis of the novel Roosevelt (2016) by Gie Bogaert. The complete writing process of Roosevelt was logged with the keystroke logging software Inputlog. As a result, it provides us with types of data we have not been able to retrieve in the past. The keystroke logs will be analysed by concentrating on two levels, which have been conceptualized in the methodology of genetic criticism as ‘exogenesis’ (the interaction between the text and ‘external’ source texts) and ‘endogenesis’ (the writing of drafts).


Floor Buschenhenke | The creative writing process in the digital age

Floor Buschenhenke | The creative writing process in the digital age | Huygens ING (KNAW), Dept of Literary Studies | Supervisors: Prof Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Huygens, UvA), Prof Luuk van Waes (UAntwerp), Prof Dirk van Hulle (UAntwerp) | September 2018 – September 2023

This research is part of an NWO-funded project, Track Changes: Textual Scholarship and the Challenge of Digital Literary Writing, in which we investigate the consequences of the digital work process for research methods into textual genetics. The project is a cooperation between the Huygens ING and the University of Antwerp, and draws on our shared expertise in the field of text editions and textual genetics, alongside our complementary knowledge of computational literary theory (Huygens ING) and cognitive writing process research (University of Antwerp). Using keystroke logging, the writing processes of several Dutch-language authors will be registered. The two main research questions guiding my PhD-project are:

  1. How can we apply existing methods and theories of textual scholarship to analyze digital writing processes and in which ways will the analysis of digital writing processes enrich the existing methods and theories?
  2. How do writing process dynamics (e.g. pauses and revisions) enable us to describe writing strategies?

The objective is to develop a new model of the creative writing process, both at micro (process) and macro (text version) level, and to develop a new protocol for collecting and analysing born-digital materials using state-of-the-art technology. I intend to approach this through three topics: revision strategies, both at the (micro) process level and as impacting the (macro) whole text development and vice versa (macrostrategies as impacting revision behaviour in the process data). Secondly, through looking at pause and fluency measures, and thirdly by exploring the effects of being online to the writing process.


Sophie, Hsin-lin Su | Paths with/out Us: Three Case Studies of Environmental Changes and Environmental Aestheticism in Taiwanese Literature

Sophie, Hsin-lin Su | Paths with/out Us: Three Case Studies of Environmental Changes and Environmental Aestheticism in Taiwanese Literature | Utrecht University, Comparative Literature, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, ICON | Supervisors: Professor Ann Rigney and Dr. Birgit M. Kaiser | September 1, 2016- August 30, 2020

This project draws on and positions itself partially within the field of ecocriticism to examine three case studies involving aesthetic representations of environmental changes in Taiwanese literature and culture: representations of butterflies, flying fish, and nuclear radiation in the region of the Pacific Ocean. Butterflies and flying fish are iconic species in Taiwan. Texts by Wu Ming-yi, Syman Rapongan, and Liao Hung-chi, depicting environmental changes through lenses of biodiversity loss and focusing especially on butterflies and flying fish, show how environmental topics have attracted the attention of Taiwanese writers. The aesthetic representations of environmental changes in these three writers’ texts show that the writers have started a certain kind of ecological thoughts in Taiwanese literature and evoke a literary turn since began in the 1980s. The endemic butterfly species Euploea Mucilber migrates from Taiwan to the southern Japanese archipelago, and flying fish migrate with the Kuroshio current from the tropics to the northeastern Japanese coast; portrayed in multiple metaphorical analogies with the immigrant culture of Taiwan in these three writers’ texts, these migratory paths have drawn the attention of environmentally inflected scholarship on Taiwanese literature. Not only do the metaphorical expressions of these paths illustrate colonial and migratory history of Taiwan as a unique hybrid of Japanese colonialization, Han ethnicity and indigenous ethnicity, but they also reveal conspicuous links between Taiwanese literature and its concerns about impacts of environmental changes through their aesthetic representations.

Andrés Ibarra Cordero | Space and Time of Queer Masculinities in Contemporary Fiction

Andrés Ibarra Cordero | Space and Time of Queer Masculinities in Contemporary Fiction | Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam (UvA) | Supervisors: Shelley Godsland & Murat Aydemir | 2016-2020

This research examines representations of space and time in contemporary English and Spanish fiction by writers who have explored the construction of queer/gay male identities at the turn of the twentieth century. In doing this, I place a comparative analysis of non-normative masculinities found in both English and Spanish narratives in dialogue with contemporary queer issues, in particular those of identity politics that attempt to account for spatiality and temporality. The late twentieth century has witnessed an explosion in literature with gay and lesbian themes. Literary scholars have often pointed marginalised groups ―postcolonial subjects and women, for instance― disrupt liberal and progressive notions of temporality. Similarly, queer uses of time and space expand in opposition to heterosexuality, reproduction, and thus do not adhere to normative schedules. This approach is informed by different critical issues of space and time. Some of the concepts proposed by Foucault, Lefebvre and Benjamin are used to explore the links between space, location and sexuality. Where queer theory originally considered gender and sexuality, a noteworthy shift in recent years is that of non-normative temporalities and spaces. In this line, the concepts behind my research are mainly informed by the works of Halberstam, Freeman, Love and Muñoz. This investigation attempts to locate fictional ‘elsewheres’ that have authorized same-sex male desire in contemporary fiction. It also hopes to contribute to queer cultural history and to literary/critical explorations of queer fiction from comparative perspectives, beyond national and linguistics constraints. Some of the general questions I intend to answer are the following: Is ‘queer’ a significant or an umbrella term to describe the fiction of these writers? Does the use of a queer time and/or space necessarily emphasize the supposedly dissident and subversive potential of these identities? What are the common patterns (if any) in these literary representations of queer temporalities?


OSL Awards 2018

Each year, OSL rewards two of its members with an OSL Award for the publication of an excellent scholarly book and article. The Awards are intended to acknowledge original and innovative contributions to the field of literary studies and to highlight the work of talented scholars at the beginning of their careers. The OSL Awards come with prize money of € 500,- for each award.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Recipients must be OSL members who have obtained their PhD no longer than four years ago at OSL or a university outside the Netherlands; a completed PhD is not a requirement.
  • The award will be granted for works in the field of literary studies of outstanding quality and originality in two different categories: publications in the form of academic articles and in the form of monographs. The works must have been published in one of the modern European languages, within a period of four years prior to the granting of the award, i.e. within the period 2014-2018 for the 2018 OSL Award. Publications that have been submitted for the OSL Award in previous years are not eligible for the OSL Award 2018.


  • Publications can be submitted by the authors themselves or anybody else. Submissions should be accompanied by a brief motivation in which the merits of the publication are outlined.
  • Articles should to be submitted as PFD-files to OSL-fgw@uva.nl. Books can be submitted in digital form as well (if available), otherwise a hardcopy should be sent to Onderzoekschool Literatuurwetenschap, UvA, Kloverniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam.
  • The deadline for proposals for the 2018 OSL Award is July 1, 2018.
  • The OSL Awards will be presented to the winners during the OSL Research Day on October 12, 2018 in Groningen.

Awards Committee: Prof dr Hans Bertens (Utrecht University), dr Inge van de Ven (Tilburg University), Prof. dr Jos Joosten (Radboud University)

We look forward to your submissions!


Jesse van Amelsvoort – Minorities, Migration, Mediation: Expressing Sense of Belonging in Multilingual Europe

Jesse van Amelsvoort | Minorities, Migration, Mediation: Expressing Sense of Belonging in Multilingual Europe | University of Groningen – Campus Fryslân | Supervisors: prof. dr. Goffe Jensma, prof. dr Margriet van der Waal, dr Matt Coler | September 2017 – August 2021

This research project investigates the role multilingual minority writers can play in processes of cultural integration in contemporary Europe. In a globalising world, the borders that once delineated and defined nation-states are becoming less pronounced and less important; at the same time, we witness a movement to reinstate those borders in less geographical, more cultural terms. Nationalism, or feelings of national belonging, is back. Thus, minority groups who are defined in relation to the nation-state they live in – either because they have crossed its borders (migrants) or because they form a localised pocket with an other language and culture – have to redefine their position.

For these minorities, writers are privileged, representative figures, who are frequently seen to speak on behalf of the larger group. This societal role finds its way into their work, in which they respond to the majoritarian perceptions that cast them as representatives. Thus, they start to mediate between minority and majority. In this research, I approach this mediation from a triple perspective: the world, the work and the writer. Analyses of individual literary texts are accompanied by interpretations of authors’ posture and place in the literary field. Thus, the research hopes to capture the positions that are available to minority writers, and the work they can do vis-à-vis cultural integration, in both their literary production and through societal circumstances.



Roel Smeets – Character Networks in Contemporary Dutch Literature

Roel Smeets | Character Networks in Contemporary Dutch Literature | Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of Literary and Cultural Studies | Supervisors: prof. dr Maarten de Pourcq, prof. dr. Antal van den Bosch | September 2016 – September 2020

In the last decade or so, the rise of Digital Humanities has made it possible to implement data-driven computational and quantitative methods in humanities research. Recently, a broadening range of research has been carried out on the computational analysis of social networks in (literary) texts. In order to reveal relational patterns between characters in recent Dutch literary fiction, my PhD research integrates computational distant reading methods into the practice of critical close reading.



Daan Rutten and Emy Koopman receive OSL Award 2016

The OSL Award winners of 2016 are Daan Rutten and Emy Koopman. Both received their prize during the annual OSL Research Day on April 7, 2017.

The OSL Award is intended to acknowledge original and innovative contributions to Literary Studies by OSL members who have obtained their doctorate no longer than four years ago. This was the first edition of the contest and the jury was very pleased with the high quality of the contributions. Picking a winner wasn’t easy – as a matter of fact, the jury decided to award the price to two contributions, an article (by Emy Koopman) and a monograph (by Daan Rutten). But the members of the jury would also like thank explicitly all the  participants and authors of priceworthy contributions who have made this a particularly strong and impressive competition.

Congratulations, Daan and Emy, on behalf of the jury and OSL Board!

Report of the Jury

Daan Rutten

Daan Rutten will receive the OSL Award for the published version of his dissertation on the work of renowned Dutch writer W. F. Hermans, which he defended in December 2016 at Utrecht University. The book is entitled De ernst van het spel (The Gravity of the Game). Willem Frederik Hermans en de ethiek van de persoonlijke mythologie.

In his study, Rutten proposes a new view of Hermans, who has long been seen as typical example of a disengaged modernist author, characterized by an autonomous poetics and a ‘cynical’ or even nihilist attitude towards society. Rutten’s fascinating revision of this ‘standard view’ does not simply consist in arguing that Hermans, in fact, was much more ‘engaged’ with society than previous critics thought, but in taking the notion of game seriously: Yes, Rutten argues, Hermans regarded existence as a form of ‘play’, but in the serious sense of language games (as seen by Ludwig Wittgenstein) and the games of signification we cannot escape once we enter the symbolic order (as described by Jacques Lacan).

To be an engaged writer, then, means to be engaged with the ongoing construction and deconstruction of these symbolic games; it means to be a ‘speler’ rather than a ‘spelbreker’ (spoilsport), as which Hermans has been typically seen. And it opens up new perspectives for the interpretation of Hermans’s works and his approaches to the serious ‘games’ of politics and science.

The jury was very much impressed with Rutten’s original and compelling re-interpretation of Herman’s allegedly disengaged modernist poetics as well as with the vibrant and accessible style of his study. It also admired the convincing combination of an aesthetic perspective and careful close readings with a cultural studies sensibility for the discursive entanglements of literature and a clear theoretical framing of the analysis.

Emy Koopman

Our second laureate is dr. Emy Koopman, who defended her dissertation Reading Suffering at the Erasmus University cum laude last year

Emy Koopman is granted the OSL Award for her article ‘Effects of “Literariness” on Emotions and on Empathy and Reflection after Reading’, which appeared in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts in 2016 (and her first novel Orewoet also appeared in 2016, so it was a very prolific year indeed for Emy).

Koopman’s study tackles one of the perennial questions in Literary Studies, namely whether reading literary texts can make people more empathic. Koopman approach this issue in an experiment in which 142 participants who were asked to read different versions of an excerpt from a novel about the loss of a child.  The versions differed with regard to their foregrounding of semantic, phonetic and grammatical features of the text (in one version of the text imagery/metaphors were edited out, in another version all elements of ‘literariness’ were removed).

Koopman’s quantitative and qualitative analysis showed that foregrounding had “a significant and robust effect on empathic understanding”, on the basis of the measures that Koopman used. The results also provided evidence that foreground, somewhat surprisingly, did not significantly affect reflection (which has been claimed before by several researchers, without sufficient empirical evidence).

The jury was impressed by the clear focus and careful set-up of Koopman’s experiment and her analysis. It noticed that she refrains from sweeping statements and freewheeling speculation and is very precise in what her research demonstrates and what it does not. Koopman has drawn her own methodological conclusions from what she sees as shortcomings in previous research in the field (for instance studies by Kidd & Castano) and opens up perspectives for the integration of philosophical, hermeneutic and empirical research. Last but not least, her work provides tentative but solid evidence for the claim that, under certain conditions, literary language can indeed enhance empathy.

Anouk Zuurmond – Transnational Literary Projects: Strategies and Effects in the Debate on a European Identity

Anouk Zuurmond | University of Amsterdam | External PhD

Transnational Literary Projects: Strategies and Effects in the Debate on a European Identity

As financial and political crises make issues of a shared European identity more pressing, the question of what binds us together is currently discussed with an increased sense of urgency. To facilitate such reflections on a shared identity, different transnational projects have been instigated by cultural organizations, promoted by and mostly with generous financial support from EU-programs and institutes. Five of these cross-border initiatives, deployed since 2000, will serve as case-studies to ask what the strategies and effects have been of these projects.

The main question at the heart of the proposed research is: What are the strategies and effects of these transnational literary projects? All of these transnational projects are based on a shared strategy to produce a similar effect, namely to engage intellectuals in the debate on a European identity from a literary perspective. These initiatives thus offer an opportunity to research this strategy by analyzing the intentions held by the organizers of these projects and asking why literature is deemed a valuable contribution to this debate. The effects will be assessed by looking at the outcome of these projects: both the cultural artefacts resulting from these projects and the role of these projects in light of the public debate on a European identity.