Kim Schoof | Literature as “compearance-attestation”

Kim Schoof | Open Universiteit | Literature as “compearance-attestation”: conceptualizing and interpreting contemporary autobiographical literature as aesthetic attestation to the political self

In the last decades, the popularity of autobiographical literature has increased in such a way that today, ‘it qualifies as a cultural obsession’. (diBattista and Wittman, The Cambridge Companion to Autobiography 2014: 1) While postmodern philosophy criticized the idea that anyone can attest directly to their “true” experiences in written text, writers – feeling encouraged rather than disheartened – never stopped finding creative and aesthetic ways to do so. In fact, many contemporary autobiographical works of literature, such as Edouard Louis’ The End of Eddy (2014), Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015), and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (2015), have been widely embraced as exemplary testimonials to what it means to live as an individual in specific political circumstances in today’s world.

Life Writing Studies still lack a fitting conception of these contemporary works of autobiographical literature that at the same time accounts for 1) their rootedness in the true experiences of writers, 2) their literariness, and 3) their political implications. This project will develop such an approach by introducing the hermeneutic concept of self-attestation in Life Writing Studies, a concept that accounts for the first two of these characteristics. Furthermore, by incorporating the critique that postmodern philosophers have formulated on the concept of self-attestation, this project will develop a more up-to-date version of the concept, that elucidates the ways in which individuals in today’s world are defined by their political relations to others: “compearance-attestation”. Literary analyses of several important contemporary works of autobiographical literature will be the end goal of this project.

Clara Vlessing | Defiant Women

Clara Vlessing | Defiant Women | Utrecht University | Supervisor: Prof. dr Ann Rigney | February 2019 – January 2023 | c.l.vlessing[at]
My project looks at the cultural afterlives of women activists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It serves as a case study within the wider ERC project ReAct (Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe since 1871), which analyses the relationship between civil resistance and cultural memory in Europe since the late nineteenth century. My research focuses on the afterlives of prominent activists from this period: Louise Michel, Emma Goldman and Sylvia Pankhurst, aiming to answer two closely related questions: How have these activists been remembered? How has that memory changed over time?

Juan Del Valle Rojas | Imagining the Unpredictable: Communication, Power and Technology in José Ricardo Morales’ Transnational Theatre

Juan Del Valle Rojas | University of Groningen

My PhD research is mainly focused on the transnational and interdisciplinary dimension of Communication, Power and Technology in the work of Spanish-Chilean playwright José Ricardo Morales.

In particular, my goal is to shed light on the problematization of communication processes and power appropriation in Morales’ plays and essays. Morales’ major concern for the (im)possibility of communicating/representing the Other has led much of established criticism to label his legacy as absurdist theatre. However, in his book José Ricardo Morales de mar a mar (2014), Pablo Valdivia posits that Morales applied deconstruction avant la lettre to his conception of the performative process. In his plays and essays, language, technology, communication and representation are highly problematized, becoming, in fact, the central focus of his artistic endeavour. Morales anticipated the advent of Internet and digital media, nuclear technology, the dehumanization produced by the disjoint in communication processes and the hyper-globalized world.

My research will focus on three main objectives: (1) Problematize the notions of communication, power and technology in José Ricardo Morales’s transnational theatre; (2) Study the discursive elements in Morales’ writings in connection to the construction of alternative social and virtual imaginaries; (3) Revitalize Morales’ works in the context of educational, political, cultural and economic challenges.

Judith Jansma | From Submission to Soumission: Populist Perspectives on Culture

Judith Jansma | From Submission to Soumission: Populist Perspectives on Culture | University of Groningen, Faculty of Art, Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) | Prof. dr. P. Valdivia Martín, Prof. dr. L.P. Rensmann, Dr. A. Godioli | September 1st 2017 – August 30th 2021 |


In today’s political discourse the idea of a culturally-grounded national identity has made a strong come-back. One can think of Theresa May’s (in)famous  statement that “citizens of the world are actually citizens of nowhere”, or Dutch Christian-democratic party CDA insisting on the integration of the national hymn in the primary school curriculum. Yet this adherence to national identity as a way to deal with complex societal challenges (globalization, multiculturalism) is performed to a much greater extent by populist parties associated with the far right. Their understanding of citizenship being based on the notion of “ethnos” rather than “demos” – leading to a strong “us vs. them” narrative – it should not come as a surprise that culture is an important tool to unite “us” and to exclude “them”.

Therefore, my research project looks at ways in which populist discourse engages with culture. Two research questions are central:

  1. Mapping the use of cultural references in the Netherlands and France: what images, cultural institutions and products do populists identify with or promote?
  2. From Theo van Gogh to Houellebecq: How did populist actors contribute to the public debate surrounding controversial works and authors?

My earlier case study on Soumission  has demonstrated that the novel was interpreted by the Front National as a warning sign for the near future, holding both the elites and the “others” accountable for France’s (fictional) Islamization. However, it is clear that this reading uses the populist tools of simplification and polarization, thereby neglecting the novel’s literary complexity.

Marloes Mekenkamp | Violence and Affect in Female Poetic Activism in Contemporary Mexico

Marloes Mekenkamp | Violence and Affect in Female Poetic Activism in Contemporary Mexico | Radboud University |  Prof. Dr Maarten Steenmeijer and Dr Brigitte Adriaensen | September 1, 2018 – August 30, 2023 | m.mekenkamp[at]

Contemporary Mexican cultural production is strongly influenced by the extreme violence that has engulfed the country in recent years. A literary phenomenon that emerged within this context is the production of political poetry written by women that combines commemoration with mobilization. This form of poetic activism recounts violent episodes of Mexico’s recent past by appropriating testimonies by victims. In addition, these poems are remediated in the public sphere, during protest marches and performances that seek to denounce violent acts committed by the state and/or criminal groups and demand justice and peace.

This project studies how the work of three female poets generates and transmits affect in order to mediate memories of violence and engage an audience. Particular attention is paid to “bodily excess”, i.e. spectacles of crying, violence and sexual violence. It is argued that the representation of public mourning, mutilated bodies, and/or explicit scenes of rape in the poems produce intense bodily effects in their recipients that on their turn help to construct a collective memory while mobilizing a counter-action.





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 |

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]

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 | Queer Chronotopes in Contemporary Fiction

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


Queer Chronotopes in Contemporary Fiction


This comparative research project examines queer chronotopes in contemporary English and Spanish fiction. This analysis draws on Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope to analyse textual configurations that, following recent queer theory’s turn on “temporalities”, are at odds with normative and hegemonic spatiotemporal world-views. The categories of time and space give meaning to the subject’s experience and reality; hence, I use them to read queer subjective experiences. I regard queer as a concept that floats between the homoerotic, gender transgression and non-normative temporal experiences. If normative time is linear, teleological, reproductive and future-oriented, queer time resists following those normative scripts. Subsequently, the concepts behind my chronotopic analysis are mainly informed by the theoretical underpinning of scholars like Dinshaw (1999); Edelman (2004); Halberstam (2005); Love (2007); Freeman (2010); and Muñoz (2010). In general, I address the following questions: Do these queer chronotopes necessarily emphasize the subversive potential of these identities? What are some common patterns in these chronotopes? Are these chronotopes always in a liminal condition?