European Literature Night 2019

Amsterdam | 16-17 May 2019

The European Literature Night 2019, on 16 and 17 May will be celebrating the Library, in collaboration with the OBA, the Amsterdam Public Library, which marks its 100th anniversary. Twelve writers and poets from all over Europe will talk of librarians and readers, about accidental encounters with books and people, about the first library they ever visited, about nostalgia for paper and dust, endless rows of books on shelves, the thrill of digital texts available world-wide. About the past and future of reading.

The programme includes talks by Jasin Mohamed and Jannah Loontjens; Zoe Strachan, Kerem Eksen and Andrei-Paul Corescu; Marek Šindelka, Andrej Blatnik and Felicitas von Lovenberg; Lina Buividavičiūtė, Delphine Lecompte and Gandolfo Cascio; Almudena Grandes interviewed by OSL Director Pablo Valdivia.

More details available here.

OSL Awards 2019

This year, OSL will reward three of its members with an Award for the following categories: published scholarly book, published article, and PhD thesis manuscript. 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 three different categories: published scholarly book, published article, and PhD thesis manuscript.
  • The works must have been published (or submitted, in the case of the thesis) 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 2015-2019 for the 2019 OSL Award. Publications that have been submitted for the OSL Award in previous years are not eligible for the OSL Award 2019.


  • 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 Books can be submitted in digital form as well (if available), otherwise a hardcopy should be sent to Netherlands School for Literary Studies (Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia), Harmony Building, Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 26, 9712 EK Groningen.
  • The deadline for proposals for the 2019 OSL Award is July 1, 2019.
  • The OSL Awards will be presented to the winners during the OSL Research Day on October 11, 2019 in Groningen.

Awards Committee: Dr. Marguérite Corporaal (Radboud University), Dr Monica Jansen (Utrecht University), Dr Florian Lippert (University of Groningen).

We look forward to your submissions!

Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: New Approaches to World Literature

Amsterdam | 27 June 2019

21st Meeting of the Platform for Postcolonial Readings

The interest scholars such as Pascale Casanova and David Damrosch took in world literature fifteen to twenty years ago has recently been criticized by, for instance, Michael Allan and Aamir Mufti as (too) generalizing and universalizing. These and other critics have started to think about location and multilingualism in order to bypass the globalizing tendencies of earlier scholarship. Already as a field world literature tends to exclude non-Western traditions, canons and languages. Francesca Orsini proposes to speak of “multilingual locals” and “significant geographies” with the aim of pluralising our understanding of world literature and foregrounding the subjectivity and positionality of its actors. After all, many of the literary works that travel beyond their original contexts of production never become visible in a truly global way, but circulate in particular geographies and across specific languages.

In this meeting of the Platform for Postcolonial Readings, we take a cue from Orsini to consider the production of world literature from the perspective of multilingual locals and significant geographies. We interrogate how these new approaches problematize and reinvigorate the concept of world literature, and examine its applicability to postcolonial studies, globalisation studies, migration and minority studies, and other fields.

Our meeting starts with a keynote lecture by Prof. Francesca Orsini, whose expertise spans the literary history of South Asia, world literature and multilingualism with a focus on the Global South. Her lecture is followed by a discussion of her ideas and by a joint close reading of essays by Orsini and other scholars. In the afternoon, we continue our exploration of world literature, multilingualism and spatiality by means of contributions on the meeting’s topic by (junior) researchers working in this field. We conclude our meeting with a joint on-the-spot analysis of a striking case-study.

(Junior) Scholars interested in presenting their research on (aspects) of world literature and multilingualism (also beyond the field of literary studies) in the light of the concerns raised above are invited to contact Jesse van Amelsvoort ( or Liesbeth Minnaard ( before 1 June 2019. A reader will be distributed in preparation of the seminar and on the day itself foods and drinks will be provided.

The meeting is open to all researchers but is specifically aimed at Research Master and PhD students working in the fields of postcolonial and globalization studies. Participation is free of charge, but please register with Eloe Kingma of NICA ( Active participation by Research Master students may be credited with 1 or 3 EC (without/with presentation). For more information, contact Eloe Kingma ( or Jesse van Amelsvoort (

 The Platform for Postcolonial Readings organizes seminars for all (junior) researchers in the Netherlands and Belgium who are committed to issues of postcoloniality and globalization.

Organizers of this meeting: Elisabeth Bekers (VUB), Liesbeth Minnaard (UL) and Jesse van Amelsvoort (RUG).

The event is co-sponsored by NICA and OSL.


Course – Computational Literary Studies

Dates: 3, 10, 17, 24 April; 15 and 22 May 2019 | Time: 15.00-18.00 hrs. | Venue: University of Amsterdam, P.C. Hoofthuis – 4.28, Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam | Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access | Organiser: prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (UvA) | ECTS: 3-6

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.


The first part of the course explores the new horizons and possibilities as well as the limitations of computational approaches in literary studies. Several computational tools will be demonstrated such as concordance software that can be used for discourse analytical approaches and specialized R-scripts for authorship attribution and stylistic analysis. The questions to be addressed in the first four sessions of the seminar include: How can different authors be distinguished from each other using computational tools? In which ways do their writing styles exactly differ? What are the options for computer-assisted discourse analysis? What kinds of reasoning and logic play a role when computational tools are applied and what are their epistemological implications? How can we evaluate the results of the new methods and techniques? Each class, a new tool will be introduced and the students will learn the basics of their use hands-on.


The second part of the course is optional and more practical. In two workshop-like meetings students will conduct small research projects of their own. In this way, they will learn to use the computational tools themselves and gain practical experience with their possibilities and limitations. The research projects can be devoted to the cases presented in the first part of the course but also be proposed by the students themselves.


Course objectives:

  • Students learn to employ empirical and computational methods in literary studies, including the selection of tools and the reflection on their possibilities and limitations.
  • Students get an overview of international discussions in the fields of computational literary studies and digital humanities and learn to relate their research to these debates.
  • Students learn to reflect on the relation of research questions and digital methods in literary studies.



April 3: Introduction: Authorship attribution

April 10: Stylometry: quantifying literary style

April 17: Analyzing the genesis of digital-born literary works

April 24: Computational analysis of online book discussion

May 15 and 22: Hands-on sessions: using the presented tools and designing the experiment for the paper



Students receive 3 EC for active participation (readings and small assignments) in the first four meetings and an additional 3 EC for participation in the workshops and the preparation of a final assignment (= paper of 3000 words).

For more information please contact Dr Alberto Godioli (

OSL Seminar – Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

Teaching period: 6, 13 and 20 March, 3 and 10 April 2019 (14:00-17:00)
Location: University of Amsterdam, see below.
Instructors: Dr Babs Boter (VU Amsterdam) and Dr Marleen Rensen (UvA; course coordinator)
Credits: 5 EC
Open to: RMA students and PhD candidates, OSL members will have first access

THE SEMINAR IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to 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.

Participants will be asked to actively engage in the selection and discussion of case studies and readings; periods before the 20th century can be addressed as well. This will be done in the framework of the following five sessions:


Session 1: Life writing: art, science or ideology?

• Mapping the field
• Different disciplines and methodologies
• Hot debates in the field of life writing research

Session 2: Who deserves a ‘ life’, who is eligible to tell it —and how is it put to use by
historians, policymakers and activists?

• ‘Great men’ versus ordinary people
• The power of representation
• Cultural appropriation
• Claiming lost personal narratives of marginalized voices (e.g. women, postcolonial subjects and refugees)

Session 3: The biographer’s dilemma: how to deal with myths, taboos and secrets?

• Private versus public
• Tackling tall tales
• Deconstructing heroic stories
• Ethical issues
• The author’s own subject position

Session 4: What is the scope of the context: national versus transnational?

• Diaspora and migration
• Travelling subjects
• Intersections with race, class, gender
• Cross-cultural networks
• Circulation of life stories

Session 5: What are the effects of new media on practices of self-representation?

• Digital lives, blogs and vlogs
• Democratization and inclusion
• Youth cultures
• Agency and participation
• Creative writing

Dates and Venue


Ravenstein Seminar (Winter School 2019) – Memory Studies and Materiality (preliminary programme available)

Date: 23-25 January 2019
Location: Utrecht University
Organisation: Susanne Knittel (UU), László Munteán (RU), Liedeke Plate (RU), Ann Rigney (UU)
Speakers: Tim Ingold, Birgit Meyer, Chiara de Cesari, Rob van der Laarse, Wayne Modest et al.
Credits: 5 EC
Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students, OSL members will have first access

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

“Perhaps the universe is a memory of our mistakes,” Jeanette Winterson writes in The Stone Gods (2007). Over the past decade, a material turn has been revolutionizing the Humanities and Social Sciences. Following a period of empirical oblivion, the idea that “stuff matters,” as the anthropologist Daniel Miller puts it, has taken hold across an increasing number of disciplines, fuelling new inquiries into novel and established fields alike. The material turn is a trend with multiple sources and faces that finds an echo in the growing public interest, in part because of climate change, in how the natural world is entangled with social practices. Interdisciplinary and diverse, drawing on multiple traditions of materialist analysis, it has far-reaching theoretical and methodological implications for our research practices. This Ravenstein Seminar will inquire into the implications of the so-called material turn for memory studies including the new challenge to engage in new ways with work in the field of critical heritage studies. We will explore the complex entanglements of matter and memory, inquiring into the ways in which people remember materially, using things as aides-mémoire, but also how things remember in and for themselves, thing-memory being integral to the life of materials. In part because the material turn is the result of “a different image of thought in which everything has turned” (St. Pierre et al.), the Ravenstein Seminar “Memory Studies and Materiality” also specifically aims to reconnoitre the methodological implications of the material turn in and for memory studies, reflecting on the methods with which we can study the entanglement of memory and materiality and how we can do material memory studies.

Ravenstein 2019 Preliminary Programme

Message from the Groningen team

As previously announced, on 1 January 2019 OSL officially moved from the University of Amsterdam to the University of Groningen. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the UvA team – Director Henk van der Liet, Programme Director Stephan Besser, Managing Director Paul Koopman, and Office Manager Chantal Olijerhoek – for their amazing work and their invaluable contribution to OSL’s constant growth.

We are very much looking forward to working with the OSL Board and members on the School’s future activities, with the shared aim of taking active part in the most exciting developments for Literary Studies within and beyond the Netherlands.

The School’s new email address is The previous one ( should still be used for the following matters: Ravenstein Seminar and Keynote Lecture (Winter School 2019), OSL Schrijfcursus voor geeteswetenschappers 2018-2019, OSL Seminars ‘Perspectives on African Literature’ and ‘Postcolonial Remembrances’ (2018-2019).

Best wishes,

Pablo Valdivia (OSL Director)

Alberto Godioli (OSL Programme Director)

Ravenstein Keynote Lecture Professor Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen)

Surface Memories: Inscription and Erasure

Date: 24 January 2019
Time: 10.15 – 11.15 hrs
Utrecht University, Drift 21, room 032
To register: send an e-mail to, with your full name and affiliation

How are memories written into material surfaces? How are they retained or erased? Materials vary, depending on their capacity both to be marked by use and to retain the marks that have been made in them. They also respond differently to wear and tear or erosion. Thus, qualities of hardness and softness, solidity and fluidity, all affect the mnemonic capacities of surfaces. The hardest of surfaces will remain unmarked by use; whereas in the most fluid of surfaces the traces of use are instantly dissipated. Mnemonic surfaces are in between: they are neither hard nor fluid but solid and soft. Thus the forest floor retains the footpath, the parchment the inky traces of the scribe, the house-timber the traces of the axe.The properties of these surfaces will be explored, showing that what they have in common is an anti-stratigraphic principle according to which memories from the past gradually rise to the surface even as they are undercut by the marks of the present.

Hermes Summer School “Passages: Metaphors, Narratives and Concepts” (May 19-24, Rauischholzhausen/Giessen)

Call for Papers

Passages are central objects of study across humanities disciplines. From textual excerpts to the shopping arcades theorized by Walter Benjamin, from the Middle Passage of the Atlantic slave trade to present-day forms of migration and resettlement, and from transitions depicted in the Bildungsroman to ritual praxis, ‘passages’ are understood and interpreted in many ways. Whether structural, semiotic, spatial/geographic, temporal, existential, societal, or institutional, passages refer to paths toward and processes of (status) change. They connect and thereby engender difference. They enable entrances and exits, arrivals and departures, while they also foster moments of liminality and suspension in between. Unlike thresholds that are simply crossed, passages imply journeys of duration, prompting anticipation of the new and foreign as well as a sense of existential finitude. Never smooth, passages come with challenges and risks as they bear the potential for breaks and ruptures.

In addition to exploring ‘passages’ in such myriad senses, the 2019 Hermes Summer School aims to foster a concept-based, interdisciplinary dialogue on how to approach and theorize such a term. Based on the notion that concepts function as crystallized mini-theories (Mieke Bal) and travel through times, contexts, and discursive settings, a conceptual approach to ‘passages’ will provide us with analytical tools to (re-)focus our research questions and create a meaningful exchange across disciplinary, national and linguistic boundaries. We invite participants to employ concepts in the study of culture such as Cultural Memory, Performativity, Space, Infrastructure, Knowledge, Media, Body, (Cultural) Translation among others, as they approach the topic of ‘passages’ and to explicitly reflect on their value and limits for their research. How can various definitions of and approaches to ‘passages’ travel and transfer between disciplines and thereby stimulate cross-disciplinary research? How do concepts in the Study of Culture enable meaningful passages between disciplinary contexts?

Each paper will be allotted 20 minutes. In addition to presenting their own work and areas of expertise, speakers are strongly encouraged to reflect on the concepts they employ in their analyses. A reader with selected literature on the topic of ‘passages’ will be provided. Please send your proposals including an abstract (200 words) and a short bio note (150 words, including your name, email address, institutional affiliation, dissertation topic, and disciplinary anchoring) to by January 31, 2019.

We welcome abstracts related but not limited to the areas listed below:

  • social passages including rites of passage; migration and (re-)settlement; politics, regimes, and violence; class im/mobilities; passages between “identities” (racial, gendered, sexual)
  • historical passages (periodizations, transitions)
  • linguistic and symbolic passages via translation or adaptation
  • textual passages (genres, forms, structures)
  • narrating/representing passages (e.g. as a trope or formal feature in cultural products)
  • theories of passage in ritual studies/cultural anthropology and their heuristic potential for the study of literature and culture

General Information

The Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) is a founding member of the Hermes Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies, a long-standing collaboration of eleven doctoral schools in Belgium, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the USA. The Consortium’s annual summer school, hosted in turn by each partner institution, brings together specialists, delegates from the partner universities, and 22 PhD students (two per university). An intensive training workshop and work-in-progress presentations focus on shared methodologies and interdisciplinary themes and lead to the publication of an annual edited volume, published by UCL Press in the Comparative Literature and Culture series.

Practical Information

Accommodation for delegates, speakers and student participants will be provided for five nights (May 19–23 at Rauischholzhausen Castle and May 23–24 at a hotel centrally located in Frankfurt am Main). A shuttle to Rauischholzhausen will leave from the Main Station in Giessen on May 19 in the late afternoon; those travelling by plane can easily reach Giessen via train after landing in Frankfurt am Main. The program will end in Frankfurt on May 24 in the early afternoon. Participants are requested to make their own travel arrangements.


Elizabeth Kovach, Jens Kugele, and Ansgar Nünning on behalf of the Hermes Consortium

The OSL Award winners 2018

The OSL Award winners of 2018 are Anne-Fleur van de Meer and Alex Rutten. They received their prize during the annual OSL Research Day in Groningen on October 12, 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.

The jury’s praise

With “‘Ik kan niet genezen van een kwaal die ik niet ken.’ Depressie en intertekstualiteit in Kikker gaat fietsen (2008) van Maarten van Buuren,” Anne-Fleur van der Meer has written a highly accomplished and original article on autobiographical texts on depression. Her article stresses the important point that as literary scholars, we have to withstand the temptation to emphasize the non-fictional content of novels like Maarten van Buuren’s. This temptation runs rampant in society, as is evidenced by talk shows that will invite authors who write novels with autobiographical content, and then fail to address the literary nature of such texts. Van der Meer urges us to consider the literary merits and devices of literary works on depression. She has a masterful grip on the theories she uses. She impressed us with the meticulous and sophisticated nature of her close readings and narratological analyses of the primary source. She then manages to embed these close readings in an extra-literary scientific discourse and social context in convincing ways. This makes her work both technically precise and socially relevant, which is quite an achievement for an early-career literary scholar.

Anne-Fleur van der Meer. “‘Ik kan niet genezen van een kwaal die ik niet ken.’ Depressie en intertekstualiteit in Kikker gaat fietsen (2008) van Maarten van Buuren.” Nederlandse Letterkunde 23.1 (2018): 11-39.

Alex Rutten’s monograph De publieke man: Dr. P.H. Ritter Jr. als cultuurbemiddelaar in het interbellum (Hilversum, 2018) offers a first comprehensive examination of the legacy of (radio) critic, journalist and writer Dr. P.H. Ritter Jr. in a cultural-historical framework. What struck us as extraordinary is the originality of Rutten’s work. Not only in terms of its object of study, as Ritter’s output has never before been systematically researched in an academic study, but also in its innovative contextual and literary-sociological method. Rutten’s analysis includes a whole range of media, organizations, and cultural institutions that have not been traditionally considered part of literary history, such as newspapers, movie theatres, and radio shows. He convincingly argues that an examination of these is not only vital for understanding Ritter’s oeuvre, but for Dutch literary history as a whole.

The jury consisted of prof. dr Hans Bertens (UU), prof. dr Jos Joosten (RU) and dr Inge van de Ven (TU).

Congratulations, Anne-Fleur and Alex, on behalf of the jury and OSL Board!