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!

OSL Seminar – Perspectives on African Literature

Organisation: Dr Astrid Van Weyenberg, Dr Ksenia Robbe and Dr Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues (Leiden University), OSL Office
Location: Leiden University, room Van Wijkplaats 2/002 (on 23/11: Eyckhof 003)
Dates: 26 Oct, 2 Nov, 16 Nov, 23 Nov, 7 Dec, 14 Dec (from 1-4 pm)
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMA students; OSL members will have first access
Format: Three-hour seminars
Exams: Three short papers of 1500 words each, engaging with the readings and discussion of the two preceding weeks
Credits: 5 EC

Although political, sociological, ethnographical or anthropological perspectives from, on and about Africa are frequently examined and discussed, African artistic domains remain relatively underexposed in the Netherlands. This is remarkable, especially when taking into account that African artistic practices are booming – both at home and around the world. In this seminar we will investigate a range of African literary texts. We will organize our discussions around three thematic clusters: 1) memory and identity; 2) travel and encounter; and 3) translation and adaptation. The seminar is not meant to represent Africa as a continent as such, but aims to study African literary production from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of different academics active in the field of African literature.

Reading material

Couto, Mia. Sleepwalking Land. Trans. David Brookshaw. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2006.
All other reading material will be made available.


Students write three short papers of 1500 words each, engaging with the readings and discussion of the two preceding sessions. The purpose of the paper is to test students’ capacity to comprehend and reflect critically both on the reading material and on the seminar discussions. Students should either have one central research question that they attempt to answer or one central thesis statement that they set out to substantiate.

Students need to write their papers in English and submit them via e-mail to the respective organizer (with a CC to the OSL office). Formally, the papers need to follow in all respects the current MLA guidelines (re. footnotes, bibliography, citation, format) and they should contain the student’s name and student number on top. Papers will be checked for plagiarism. In order to receive the credits for this seminar, students need a minimum grade of 5,5 for each paper.

PART 1: Memory & Identity (organized by Ksenia Robbe)

# 1 (26/10): “Apartheid Removals, Trauma and Postmemory in Contemporary South African Plays”, Dr Ksenia Robbe, Leiden University

  • Davids, Nadia. Cissie: The Playscript. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Jephta, Amy. All Who Pass. Unpublished playscript, 2015.
  • Hirsch, Marianne. “The Generation of Postmemory.” Poetics Today 29.1 (Spring 2008): 103-128.
  • Grunebaum, Heidi. “Introduction” and Chapter 4 “Burials and Removals: Historical Erasure and Everyday Life.” Memorializing the Past: Everyday Life in South Africa After the TRC. New Brunswick & London: Transaction Publishers, 2011 ( 1-17; 113-147).

# 2 (2/11): “Mythology, Memory and ‘Alternative’ Histories in Rooiland”, Dr Hanneke Stuit, University of Amsterdam

  • Brouwer, Jacco. Rooiland. Three Dead Pixels. 2013. Film.
  • Steinberg, Jonny. “Crossing the Never Never Line.” The Number. One Man’s Search for Identity in the Cape Underworld and Prison Gangs. Cape Town & Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2004. 133-156.
  • Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Excerpts.
  • Stuit, Hanneke. “The Bastardisation of History: Mythology and Transculturation in Tertius Kapp’s Rooiland.” TNTL 131.4 (2015): 339-352.
  • Optional: Kapp, Tertius. Rooiland. ‘n Drama. Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 2013.

Deadline short paper #1: 9/11 midnight (@Ksenia @OSL)

PART 2: Travel & Encounter (organized by Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues)

# 3 (16/11): “Fuzzy borders: war and (im)mobility in Mia Couto’s Sleepwalking Land”, Dr Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues, Leiden University

  • Couto, Mia. Sleepwalking Land. Trans. David Brookshaw. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2006 [1992].
  • Youngs, Tim. “Where Are We Going? Cross-Border Approaches to Travel Writing”. Perspectives on Travel Writing, ed. by Glenn Hooper and Tim Youngs, 167-180. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.
  • Krakowska, Kamila. Voyages of postcolonial nations in Estação das Chuvas and Terra Sonâmbula.” Narrating the Postcolonial Nation: Mapping Angola and Mozambique, ed. Ana Mafalda Leite, Hilary Owen, Livia Apa and Rita Chaves, 163-184. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2014 (171-184).

# 4 (23/11): “Encounters in a colonial city: literary landscapes of Lu(u)anda”, Dr Sara Brandellero, Leiden University

  • Vieira, Luandino. “Grandma Xixi”; “Hen and egg” from Luuanda. Trans. Tamara Bender. London: Heinemann, 1980 [1963].
  • Melo e Castro, Paul. Shameful things in the city: Writing and re-righting colonial urban space in José Luandino Vieira’s Luuanda. Journal of Romance Studies 14.3 (2014): 37-53.
  • Ribeiro, Margarida Calafate. E agora José, Luandino Vieira? An Interview with José Luandino Vieira. Trans. Phillip Rothwell. Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies 15/16 (2010): 27-35.

Deadline short paper #2: 30/11 midnight (@Kamiila @OSL)

PART 3: Translation & Adaptation (organized by Astrid Van Weyenberg)

# 5 (7/12): “Re-reading / Adaptations: Interweaving Sensibilities and Versing Shakespeare from Africa”, Dr Sola Adeyemi, Goldsmiths University, London

  • Femi Osofisan, Wesoo, Hamlet! Or The Resurrection of Hamlet (Re-reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet) (Lagos: Opon Ifa Acting Editions, 2012)
  • Femi Osofisan, The Muse of Anomy: Essays on Literature and the Humanities in Nigeria (Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2016), Chapters 7 and 13
  • Femi Osofisan, The Nostalgic Drum: Essays on Literature, Drama and Culture (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc, 2001), Chapter 13
  • Astrid Van Weyenberg, The Politics of Adaptation: Contemporary African Drama and Greek Tragedy (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013), Chapter 4

# 6 (14/12): “Inhabiting (an Other’s) Language”, Dr. Paulina Aroch Fugellie, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City

  • Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “The Politics of Translation”, in Outside in the Teaching Machine. New York: Routledge, 1993 (179-200).
  • Aroch Fugellie, Paulina. “Migratory Clichés: Recognizing Nyerere’s The Capitalists of Venice”, in Murat Aydemir and Alex Rotas (eds.), Migratory Settings. Amsterdam, Thamyris/Intersecting: Place, Sex and Race 19, Rodopi, 2008 (101-117). 

Deadline short paper #3: 21/12 midnight (@Astrid @OSL)

Other information

NB: With queries about the seminars, please consult with the organizer of the respective parts:

Dr Ksenia Robbe (k.robbe[at]
Dr Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues (k.k.krakowska.rodrigues[at]
Dr Astrid Van Weyenberg (a.l.b.van.weyenberg[at]
The OSL office: OSL-fgw[at]



OSL Research Day – Oct 12, 2018 (Groningen)

—NOTE: THE RESEARCH DAY IS FULLY BOOKED. If you want to be on our waiting list, you can sent an e-mail to Please indicate in your email in which sessions you would like to participate.—

The third OSL Research Day will take place on October 12, 2018 at the University Library in Groningen. We invite scholars from all Dutch universities to explore affinities in their research interests and possibilities for future collaboration around a number of research topics (mentioned below).

The Research Day hopes to stimulate more collaboration between literary scholars and existing research groups in the Netherlands. Although literature is the main scope of the OSL Research School, we explicitly encourage multidisciplinary research.

The Research Day will start with the presentation of the 2018 OSL Award, followed by a PhD Forum and a session on Research Funding. After a short break, Prof. dr Esther Peeren (UvA) will lecture on Reading Rural Imaginations (project awarded with an ERC Consolidator Grant). Peeren’s innovative research is closely related to various topics that will be discussed in parallel sessions during the afternoon (cf. E. Peeren. The Spectral Metaphor: Living Ghosts and the Agency of Invisibility, 2014; E. Peeren, H. Stuit, & A. van Weyenberg (Eds.), Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present: Spaces, Mobilities, Aesthetics, Leiden: Brill, 2016; E. Peeren, R. Celikates, J. de Kloet, & T. Poell (Eds.), Global Cultures of Contestation: Mobility, Sustainability, Aesthetics & Connectivity, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

In the afternoon, the participants will discuss their own research projects and interests in sessions organised by existent and emerging research groups. Sessions are planned on the topics of literature and law, poetics of knowledge, literature and technology, transgressing boundaries et al. These sessions take 1.5 hour each, and are open to all researchers. These sessions can take different shapes and forms, dependent upon the ideas of the organizers and participants. A detailed programme of the afternoon sessions can be found here PROGRAMME All Sessions OSL Research Day 2018

Background readings: Session 1 (Anker & Meyler); session 3 (Moretti).

Seed Money
The organization of the sessions is flexible and is up to the convenors of each session. The sessions can be envisaged as a matchmaking event, a presentation of brief research pitches/papers or discussion in which ongoing or future research projects are presented. We would explicitly like to invite participants to think about future collaborations with other OSL members. The OSL Board will make € 1000,- of seed money available for the most promising initiative, including for instance:

  • planning of symposia
  • book publications
  • joint funding applications
  • organization of OSL budgeted academic events such as the Ravenstein Seminar in January 2020 (in this case, the seed money will be added as an extra to the budget already made available by OSL).

Applications (short description of the collaborative project and estimation of expenses, approx. 500 words) should be sent to the OSL office by 16 November 2018 ( The OSL Board will notify the recipients by Dec 10.

Participants can register for the Research Day by sending an email to  before October 8. Please indicate in your email in which sessions you would like to participate. The event will take place in the RUG University Library, Broerstraat 4, Groningen.

THE RESEARCH DAY IS FULLY BOOKED. If you want to be on our waiting list, you can sent an e-mail to Please indicate in your email in which sessions you would like to participate.

We look forward to meeting you all in Groningen on Oct 12!

Pablo Valdivia, Ruby de Vos, Alberto Godioli, Florian Lippert, Sander Brouwer and the OSL Board



10:00-10:15Coffee Reception-Welcome by Dr Stephan Besser & Prof. dr Pablo ValdiviaJantina Tammeszaal (University Library, Broerstraat 4, 4th floor)
10:15-10:30OSL AwardJantina Tammeszaal
10:30-11:30PhD Forum (Convenors: Ruby de Vos & Dr Vera Alexander)Jantina Tammeszaal


11:30-12:00 Life Beyond ERC & NWO: Research Funding (Presentation: Gema Ocaña RUG Senior Advisor in European Affairs / Funding)Jantina Tammeszaal
13:00-14:00Reading Rural Imaginations

Lecture by Prof. dr Esther Peeren (Chair: Dr. Sander Brouwer)

Jantina Tammeszaal


14:00-15:30Parallel Session 1: Research Group Literature & Law (Convenors: Prof. dr Sebastian Sobecki, Dr Alberto Godioli, Dr Florian Lippert)

Parallel Session 2: Tourism and Travel Cultures (Convenor: Dr Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar)

Parallel Session 3: Research Group Poetics of Knowledge (Convenors: Dr Marieke Winkler, Dr Stephan Besser)

Parallel Session 1- Jantina Tammeszaal


Parallel Session 2- Annie Nicolette Josephus Jittazaal (room 0339, University Library, Broerstraat 4, 3rd floor)

Parallel Session 3 – Room OBS 23.014 (Oude Boteringestraat 23, ground floor)


15:30-16:00Coffee BreakJantina Tammeszaal
16:00-17:30Parallel Session 4: Research Group Transgressing Borders: Mediating & Negotiating Cultures (Convenor: Dr Petra Broomans, Prof. dr Mathijs Sanders,  Dr Jeanette den Toonder)

Parallel Session 5: Arts and the Public Sphere (Convenors: Prof. dr Laura Bieger, Dr. Thijs Lijster, Prof. dr Margriet van der Waal, Jesse van Amelsvoort)

Parallel Session 6: Memory and Resistance in Times of Crisis (Convenors: Dr Ksenia Robbe, Prof. dr Maria Boletsi, Dr. Kasia Mika).

Parallel Session 4 – Jantina Tammeszaal


Parallel Session 5 – Zernikezaal, Academy Building (Broerstraat 5, main building opposite the library, 3rd floor)

Parallel Session 6 – Room A.02, Academy Building (Broerstraat 5, main building opposite the library, ground floor)

17:30-18:00BreakJantina Tammeszaal
18:00-19:00Book presentation Prof. dr Richard Lansdown, Literature and Truth: Imaginative Writing as a Medium for Ideas (Brill, December 2017)

Chair: Prof. dr Pablo Valdivia

Jantina Tammeszaal



LACE Winter School: Narrative Values, the Value of Narratives

University of Groningen
January 28 – February 1 

Since the narrative turn, the interest in the concept of narrative and its values has become widespread, both inside and outside the academy. There is a growing interest in narrative fiction as an ‘experimental values laboratory,’ studying both the value of narrative fiction in society and the values that are circulated through narrative fiction. Outside the academy, storytelling has become the focus of interest in many professional practices, such as psychology, counselling, medicine and health, and journalism, where it is used as a tool to piece together broken lives and make sense out of chaos and destruction. Narrative thus appears to be everywhere.

The Winter School, organized in affiliation with the Literature and Change in Europe (LACE) network, offers cutting-edge narratological research with contributions from leading narrative scholars, such as Jan Baetens (Leuven), Hendrik Skov Nielsen (Aarhus), Marina Grishakova (Tartu) and Liesbeth Korthals Altes (Groningen). In it, a broad array of disciplines and practices will be showcased, exploring how narratives are shaped by ethical, aesthetic, epistemological, and social values, and how narratives function as varied and complex transmitters of values in contemporary society.

Special attention will be paid to the ‘dark side’ of the omnipresence of storytelling in contemporary virtual and mediatized culture: on the impact of simple stories catching people’s imagination and spreading like wildfire and the use of stories in politics and marketing to manipulate voters and consumers. There is a need for “narrative savviness”: the ability to critically assess narratives as constructed representations of reality, rather than reality itself, and to be aware of their implies yet often hidden values.

Participants of the Winter School will follow a series of lectures and participate in interactive workshops during which they can present their research projects. Included in the programme is a day-long symposium, organized in honour of prof. dr. Korthals Altes and her contributions to the field of narrative, where additional international speakers will present their work and engage in a lively debate on the negotiation of values in and through narratives.

Please note that if your programme includes a requirement to earn credits from a national research school, the credits for this winter school do not count towards that requirement. 

More information

Promotie – Anne Fleur van der Meer (Vrije Universiteit)

Ladders naar het licht

Depressie en intertekstualiteit in hedendaagse autobiografische literatuur

Datum: 27 September 2018, 11.45 stipt
Locatie: Aula, Vrije Universiteit te Amsterdam (Hoofdgebouw)

Op donderdag 27 september 2018 om 11.45 precies zal Anne-Fleur van der Meer haar proefschrift Ladders naar het licht. Depressie en intertekstualiteit in hedendaagse autobiografische literatuur in het openbaar verdedigen in de aula van de Vrije Universiteit te Amsterdam.

Sinds de tweede helft van de twintigste eeuw zijn er in Europa en de Verenigde Staten vele autobiografische werken gepubliceerd die handelen over wat in de internationale wetenschappelijke diagnostiek de “major depressive disorder” (MDD) wordt genoemd: een stemmingsstoornis waarbij symptomen kunnen horen als diepe neerslachtigheid, interesseverlies, angst, agitatie, (schuld)wanen, doodsgedachten en doodswensen. In haar proefschrift heeft Anne-Fleur van der Meer de (narratieve) strategieën van representatie geanalyseerd waarmee depressie in deze autobiografieën is verwoord. Daarbij heeft zij in het bijzonder studie gemaakt van de aard en de functie van intertekstualiteit.
Uitgangspunt van het proefschrift is de constatering dat in autobiografieën vele intertekstuele verwijzingen kunnen worden aangetroffen: het uitdrukken van particuliere ervaringen van psychopathologisch lijden is vervlochten met (in de eigen ervaring gegronde) reflecties op een breed conglomeraat van (zelfhulp)publicaties met een medische inhoud. Bovendien hebben de vertellers materiaal ontleend aan literaire teksten en speelfilms. Het proefschrift maakt de aard en functies van deze toe-eigening inzichtelijk door tendensen van identificatie en transformatie aan te wijzen die met de toe-eigening van literaire en medische bronnen gepaard gaan. Van der Meer demonstreert dat juist een studie van deze intertekstualiteit perspectieven biedt op de rol van autobiografische literatuur in de hedendaagse gezondheidscultuur.
Het onderzoek dat aan haar proefschrift ten grondslag ligt is gefinancierd door de Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) in het kader van de subsidievorm Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen.

Zie ook:

Promotie – Ryanne Keltjens (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)


Bemiddelende kritiek in Nederlandse publiekstijdschriften in het interbellum

Datum: 04 oktober 2018, 16:15 uur
Promotors: dr. E.M.A. (Erica) van Boven, prof. dr. M.P.J. (Mathijs) Sanders
Locatie: Academiegebouw Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Ryanne Keltjens zal op 4 oktober haar proefschrift getiteld Boekenvrienden. Bemiddelende kritiek in Nederlandse publiekstijdschriften in het interbellum verdedigen.

Boekenvrienden gaat over drie mannen met een missie: Gerard van Eckeren, Roel Houwink en Anthonie Donker wilden zo veel mogelijk mensen laten kennismaken met ‘goede’ boeken. In de periode tussen de Eerste en de Tweede Wereldoorlog waren zij bekende literatuurcritici die een groot publiek wisten te bereiken via kranten, tijdschriften, de radio en het lezingencircuit. In hun boekbesprekingen gidsten zij de lezers door het literaire aanbod. Dit soort ‘bemiddelende kritiek’ staat in deze dissertatie centraal. Deze studie richt zich specifiek op hun werkzaamheden voor publiekstijdschriften als Den Gulden Winckel, Elsevier’s Geïllustreerd Maandschrift en Critisch Bulletin.

‘Bemiddelende kritiek’ past binnen een oudere traditie van volksopvoeding, maar kreeg in het interbellum een nieuwe impuls en een andere, moderne gedaante. In hun verschillende rollen van uitgever, redacteur, criticus en (radio)spreker experimenteerden deze critici met nieuwe vormen van literaire journalistiek, kanalen en rubrieken. Zij speelden daarbij in op actuele ontwikkelingen in de media, reclame en techniek en profiteerden van de nieuwe economische mogelijkheden die de groeiende boekenmarkt bood.

De drie bestudeerde critici blijken een gedeeld cultuurbemiddelingsideaal te koesteren, maar legden verschillende accenten. Zij waren het erover eens dat de literatuur een verheffende werking had voor individu én gemeenschap, en dat de literatuurkritiek bijdroeg aan de culturele vorming van het algemene publiek. Tegelijkertijd liepen hun taalgebruik, de benadering van de lezer en opvattingen over de literaire canon sterk uiteen, wat verband houdt met onderlinge verschillen in levensbeschouwelijke en sociale achtergrond. Bemiddelende kritiek is dus een veelkleurig fenomeen binnen de literaire cultuur van het interbellum.



OSL Training Programme 2018-19

In the academic year 2018-19, OSL offers the following courses and seminars for RMa students and PhD candidates:

  • Deleuze Seminar “Matters of Life and Death” (Sept 2018-May 2019; 2 or 5 EC); RMa/PhD)
  • Seminar “Perspectives on African Literature” (Oct-Dec 2018, 5 EC; RMa/PhD)
  • Seminar “Postcolonial Remembrances: Violence and Identity in Literature and Film” (Nov 2018 – Jan 2019, 5 EC; RMa/PhD)
  • Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers – Framen, schrappen en herschrijven (January 7-11, 3 EC; RMa/PhD)
  • Ravenstein Seminar (Winter School) “Memory Studies and Materiality” (January 23-25, 5 EC; RMa/PhD)
  • Seminar “Contemporary Debates in Life Writing” (March-April, 5 EC; RMa/PhD)
  • Course “Computational Literary Studies” (April-May 2019, 3 or 6 EC; RMa/PhD)
  • Hermes Summer School “Passages” (May 20-23, Giessen/Germany; PhD)
  • Seminar “Naming the World: Realism Travels the Globe” (May-June, 5 EC; RMa/PhD)

Please find more specific course descriptions on our website! Registration for most events will open in September 2018. Workshops, masterclasses etc. will be announced during the academic year.

Seminar – Naming the World: Realism Travels the Globe

Location: Utrecht University, TBA
Teaching period: May-June 2019 (meetings on for May 24 and June 7, 14, 21, 28)
Instructor: Prof. Neil ten Kortenaar (University of Toronto)
Credits: 5 EC
Open to: RMA students and PhD candidates


When they first encountered novelistic realism, writers all over the world felt it encouraged a new kind of vision: an invitation to write about things that had never been written about in order to make people see those things as for the first time. Yet at the same time realism observes rules of verisimilitude that suggest the new can be understood in terms of the already known. These twin pulls, toward the new and towards the same, make realism’s great contradiction and, no doubt, its attraction.

We will examine the meaning realism acquired as it made its way around the world by looking first at two Western texts to suggest the history of realism—novels by Balzac and Updike—and then at six more realist novels from other traditions, that is, from Africa, India, and China.

The critical theory of realism is understandably focused on the nineteenth century British, French, and Russian novel. In this course we will examine whether what is said of realism by Hegel, Lukács, Auerbach, Barthes, Raymond Williams, Jameson,

Catherine Gallagher, Moretti and others is also true of realism in the 20th century elsewhere in the world. Realism is often associated historically with the bourgeoisie, the working class, liberalism, the Enlightenment, perspective in painting, the documentary impulse, the visual, the status quo, social activism, heteronormativity, and secularism. Does it retain those (contradictory) associations in, say, India or China? Realism appears to be the product of a particular time and place. What happens when it is found elsewhere at a later time?



Session 1: Europe: Honoré de Balzac

Session 2: United States: John Updike

Session 3: China: Lu Xun, Eileen Chang

Session 4: South Asia: Anita Desai, Amit Chaudhuri

Session 5: Africa: Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie



  • Preparation of and active participation in the meetings
  • Final paper and brief presentation

Deleuze Seminar 2018-19 “Matters of Life and Death”

Location: Stijlkamer van Ravensteijn, Kromme Nieuwe Gracht 80, Utrecht University
Teaching period: September 2018-May 2019 (see dates below)
Time: Tuesday afternoon, 13:00-16:00
Organisers: Prof. Rosi Braidotti & dr. Rick Dolphijn (Utrecht University)
Credits: 2 or 5 EC
Registration: Open for RMa students and PhD candidates. RMa students and PhD candidates of Dutch universities have to register for this seminar via OSL, by sending an e-mail to All other participants register directly via prof. Briadotti’s assistant: In your registration please include a biographical note of up to 100 words in which you state your affiliation and motivation to participate in the seminar. Register before 7 September 2018.



The focus of this year’s seminar will be on Deleuze’s approach to death, pain and madness, under the combined influence of psychoanalysis, notably Melanie Klein, and the works of Maurice Blanchot and Spinoza. We will study and discuss the relationship between Deleuze’s neo-materialist, vital ethics of affirmation and its implications for complex issues around the lived experiences of pain, madness, resistance, suffering and dying. How does the neo-Spinozist notion of endurance foster the project of constructing an affirmative ethics? How can one live an affirmative ethical life and endure the pain?
Throughout his working life, Deleuze devoted spent a lot of time rethinking ‘ways to die’. This emphasis intensified towards the end of his life and was addressed explicitly in his final text. It is key to understand that Deleuze’s affirmative vitalism or his emphasis on life and joy does not mean that Deleuze’s thinking is about happiness or a search for a happy life. Enduring the pain, or living the wound, means, especially in our times, that we have to rethink issues like death, pain and madness thoroughly.
These issues are especially relevant for posthuman subjects situated between the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Sixth Extinction? In the brutal context of the Anthropocene and climate change, of rising populism, growing poverty and inequality? How does Deleuze’s ethics help us to deal affirmatively with these challenges?
To discuss these crucial issues in a balanced manner, the seminar will also look at some of the most common objections moved against affirmative ethics and try to assess them. It will also connect ideas like affirmation and endurance to the philosophical tradition of neo-stoicism, and to Deleuze’s re-reading of it.
Always starting from the active participation of all of its participants, this close reading seminar aims at making Deleuze’s ideas productive in many (unforeseen) aspects of academic research and artistic practice. This means we aim (jointly) to include your research projects in close reading. Thus, we find out how Deleuze’s take on death, madness, destruction, the Stoic tradition, the non-human and whatever we read in these texts, matters in the world today.

The seminar consists of nine sessions in English which will run throughout the academic year 2018-2019 in Utrecht. Research masters and PhD students, as well as staff members, are welcome to participate. 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.


  • 18 September 2018
  • 9 October 2018
  • 27 November 2018
  • 18 December 2018
  • 22 January 2019
  • 19 February 2019
  • 26 March 2019
  • 23 April 2019
  • 21 May 2019 (preliminary for now; Deleuze Symposium day)


  • Attendance and active participation in at least 4 sessions and presentation during one of the sessions (2 EC)
  • Attendance and active participation in 5 sessions, presentation and paper of 2500 words (5 EC)




OSL Seminar – Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

Teaching period: 6, 13 and 20 March, 3 and 10 April 2019
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