Update on OSL Activities

19 March 2020

Dear members of the OSL community,

We hope this message finds you well, despite the extraordinary circumstances we are in. As you know, given the ongoing developments with the COVID-19 situation, all educational activities at Dutch universities have been suspended or moved online.

We are writing to let you know that we are working to transfer all (or most) of our events online through Google Hangouts Meet or other platforms, and to provide e-learning support wherever necessary. We are liaising with all OSL staff and instructors, especially with those involved in our March, April and May programme. If you have registered / are registering for one or more of our upcoming events, you will receive more updates very soon; a general update will also be circulated through the next newsletter.

Best wishes / Stay safe,

The OSL Executive Team

Big Books / Big Data: Size and Scale in Literature, Digital Media and Architecture

University of Amsterdam | 16 June 2020, 16:00 – 18:00

Influenced by digitalization and the rise of big data, we see increasing attention to the topic of size and scale in culture, media, and literature, but also as topics of investigation in the humanities and social sciences at large. Such issues are particularly timely in an era in which processes of digitalization and globalization converge and intersect, and during which the scale on which we consider aesthetic, ethical, and political relations is expanding. This seminar brings together scholars from different disciplines to discuss the role of size, scale, monumentality, or gigantism in relation to books and literature, other media, and architecture, in the light of digitalizatiton and datafication.

Henriette Steiner, associate professor Landscape Architecture and Planning, and Kristin Veel, associate professor in the department of Arts and Cultural Studies, both from the University of Copenhagen, will talk about their book A Tower to Tower: Gigantism in Architecture and Digital Culture (MIT Press, 2020)In this work, they map and critique the trajectory of gigantism in architecture and digital culture―the convergence of tall buildings and networked infrastructures―from the Eiffel Tower to One World Trade Center.

Inge van de Ven, assistant professor Culture Studies at Tilburg University, will present on her book Big Books in Times of Big Data (Leiden U.P. 2019), which examines recent trends of size and scale in the novel in terms of the shift from the bound book to the newer materialities of the digital, in works by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, and Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann.

Kiene Brillenburg Wuth, full professor of Literature and Media and Utrecht University, will present on the sublime and the materiality of literature in a digital age.

Registration: please send an email to nica-fgw@uva.nl and do not forget to mention your affiliation.

Credits: For RMA and PhD-students, there is the possibility to obtain 2 ECTS for attending the event, reading a selection from Inge van de Ven’s Big Books in Times of Big Data, and writing a short (1000-2000 word) essay on the basis of this. The best essays will be published on Diggit Magazine. For more information and access to the text, contact Inge at i.g.m.vdven@uvt.nl

This event is sponsored by NICA and OSL.

From Distant Reading to Distant Viewing:  Using Computer Vision to Enrich Historical and Literary Research

The Hague | 12 May 2020

Time: 10.00 – 17.00. Venue: Dutch Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5, 2595 BE The Hague. Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students who are a member of a Dutch National Research School. Members of OSL and the Huizinga Institute have first access.

Available places: 20 (lecture programme + workshop) and an additional 20 places for auditors (lecture programme only).

Credits: More details on credits and assignments will be available soon; registration will open in early April.

Coordination: Sophie van den Elzen and Thomas Smits (Utrecht University)
Keynote: Leo Impett (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome); more guests will be announced soon.

Description:

Digital humanities research has long been strongly textually oriented (Arnold and Tilton 2019). Increasingly, however, methods are being developed to incorporate the visual into DH analyses. This workshop will introduce participants to the basics of “distant viewing”: cutting-edge computer vision techniques in humanities research.
Like distant reading, these methods have proven useful to perform (historical) cultural analyses at a macro-scale. They can be used, for instance, to analyze the relationship between text and image in the nineteenth-century transnational press, to map the circulation of images in internet culture, to do visual stylometry (authorship attribution), or to study pictorial traditions, genres and motives in thousands of paintings. However, technological gains in computer vision go beyond merely increasing the scale at which we can research cultural phenomena. They also have the potential to change how we understand the cultural work of the visual vs. the textual, as they challenge traditional views of how images are consumed, cognitively processed, and assigned meaning (Moretti and Impett 2017; Arnold and Tilton 2019).
The day is intended for early-stage researchers who would like to learn about the principles, possibilities and pitfalls of research methods based on computer vision. Learning more about this may complement what you already know about digital humanities methods of ‘distant reading’, or help you think about how your current research questions could be operationalized at the larger scale. Or it may inspire you to formulate new project ideas. In any case, by the end of the day, you will have a sense of 1) what sorts of new research questions you can formulate with these methods, 2) what the workflow of this research looks like and 3) where to start: what are some collections, at the KB and beyond, which you can begin to explore using these techniques.
The day will start with a keynote by Leo Impett, whose work applies computer vision to analyze Aby Warburg’s Bilderatlas. After this, the trainers will give brief presentations on their own research, which are intended to inspire you to look at the possibilities of these methods for your own research interests. The afternoon consists of a hands-on workshop for max. 20 participants, in which we will go on a guided computational exploration of a dataset using the programming language Python. The day will also offer ample opportunity to discuss research ideas with trainers, peers and members of the KB team.

 

Registration will open in early April; more details on schedule, assignments and registration will be provided soon.

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.
Venue: University of Amsterdam,University Library – Belle van Zuylenzaal, Singel 425, Amsterdam
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!

Looking Back to Ravenstein 2020

 

29 January 2020

This year’s Ravenstein on War, Literature and Law took place in Leiden from 22 to 24 January. We would like to thank the organizing team (Frans-Willem Korsten, Ted Laros, Mariëlle Matthee and Yasco Horsman) for the amazing work, the keynote speakers (Richard Weisberg, Carrol Clarkson and Gisèle Sapiro) for their exciting lectures, and all participants for their great input throughout the three days of the winter school!

More soon,

The OSL Team

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.