OSL Awards 2020: Congratulations to the Winners!

5 January 2021


We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2020 OSL Awards: Marc Farrant (best article, first prize) and Jesse van Amelsvoort (best article, runner-up). Our warmest congratulations to Marc (left) and Jesse (right)!


Marc Farrant (University of Amsterdam) won the first prize with his article ‘Earth, World, and the Human: Samuel Beckett and the Ethics of Climate Crisis‘, Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui, 32 (2), 207-221. In the words of the jury:

  • Farrant’s article combines literary analysis with philosophical and theoretical approaches, setting up a productive and insightful dialogue between Beckett (and particularly his short story “The End”), Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Maurice Blanchot and more recent approaches in ecocriticism, particularly Roy Scranton’s remarkable contribution to ecocritical debates through his insights on ‘learning how to die’ in the face of impending ecological catastrophe. The article is marked by analytical depth and a firm theoretical and philosophical grounding. It makes an original contribution to scholarship by revisiting Beckett through the lens of ecocritical problematics: Farrant’s nuanced analysis shows that literature may not provide clear-cut answers or solutions to the great challenges that we face in the contemporary world – and the climate crisis in particular – but can help us find the terms in which to address the significant ethical questions that arise from these challenges.
  • The study focuses on an early short story by Beckett, surprisingly relating it to the contemporary issue of climate change and the changing conceptions on man and environment stemming from it. The reading of Beckett in the light of climate crisis gives a strong originality to this article. It is quite a daring approach, asking what Beckett’s more than 60 year old story has to tell us about this urgent societal but also ethical question. The article gives an insightful reading of the short story, against the backdrop of Beckett’s work as a whole but also embedding it in an analysis of modern philosophical conceptions of the relationships between humankind and the environment from Heidegger to Derrida.


Jesse van Amelsvoort (PhD candidate, University of Groningen and Campus Fryslân) was awarded the runner-up prize for his article ‘“I Heard Homer Sing”: Tsjêbbe Hettinga and the Paradoxes of European Multilingualism‘, Global Perspectives 1 (1): 12551. Quoting from the jury’s motivation:

  • A solid, well documented study, putting a spotlight on an author in the margins of literary canon. Hettinga’s work is both approached by close reading and embedded in the larger issue of the increased place of multilingualism in contemporary Europe and how this affects the ‘symbolic capital’ of literature in minority languages like Frisian. The article offers a welcome contribution to current debates about the place of the local in World literature – strengthening this field with an excellent case study which demonstrates the international embedding of ‘minor literatures’ and its historical affordances.
  • Jesse van Amelsvoort’s article on Tsjêbbe Hettinga makes a valuable contribution to discussions on literary authors writing in regional or minority languages and the problems of their representation in the European literary map. The article uses the case of this author in order to address some of the “paradoxes of European multilingualism,” as the author calls them, and he does that convincingly and eloquently. Van Amelsvoort succeeds in sketching the complexities of the European (literary) scene and the tensions between a still powerful monolingual paradigm (that ties the nation state to language) and new, bottom-up possibilities that allow other kinds of (multilingual) communities to take shape and claim their presence in the European literary scene.


OSL would also like to express its gratitude to this year’s jury — prof. dr. Maria Boletsi (Leiden University / University of Amsterdam), dr. Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen) and dr. Annelies Schulte Nordholt (Leiden University).

Promotie: Marileen La Haije (Radboud Universiteit)

— for English, see below —

Op maandag 8 februari om 16.30 verdedigt Marileen La Haije (RU) haar proefschrift  “Memorias locas: Una lectura de la ficción centroamericana (de los años noventa a la actualidad) desde la conexión entre locura y trauma”. Helaas kunnen slechts enkelen hierbij fysiek aanwezig zijn, maar gelukkig is er de optie om via de livestream toch deel te nemen aan de plechtigheid. Dat kan via deze link: https://www.ru.nl/over-ons/diensten-faciliteiten/vm/aula/livestream/livestream-academiezaal/. Hopelijk tot dan!

Voor praktische vragen over de verdediging kun je contact opnemen met Marileen La Haije (m.lahaije@let.ru.nl).

On February 8, at 16.30, Marileen La Haije (RU) will be defending her dissertation “Memorias locas: Una lectura de la ficción centroamericana (de los años noventa a la actualidad) desde la conexión entre locura y trauma”. Unfortunately, only a limited number of guests are allowed to be present at the venue of the defense. However, it is possible to watch the ceremony via a livestream, which will be available at this webpage: https://www.ru.nl/over-ons/diensten-faciliteiten/vm/aula/livestream/livestream-academiezaal/. You are very welcome to attend the defense online.

For practical questions about the defense please contact Marileen La Haije (m.lahaije@let.ru.nl).

KNAW Webinar: Perspectieven op Literatuur. De toekomst van de letterkunde in Nederland

Workshop with David Alworth

Online | 7 December 2020


De letterkunde in Nederland is springlevend en innovatief, ondanks de ‘ontlezing’ en de precaire situatie van taal- en literatuuropleidingen. Tijdens dit webinar tonen vijf experts hoe, in een veranderend literair veld, nieuwe zienswijzen richting geven aan de toekomst van literatuur en letterkunde in Nederland.



  • Jelle Koopmans, universitair hoofddocent Romaanse taal- en letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam – Inleiding
  • Geert Buelens, dichter en hoogleraar moderne Nederlandse letterkunde, Universiteit Utrecht – Alsof gewoon lezen niet volstaat. Wat kritiek en literatuurwetenschap kunnen bijdragen
  • Anna Poletti, universitair hoofddocent Engelse taal- en letterkunde, Universiteit Utrecht – Minor world literatures: A perspective on the challenge of teaching literary studies in the Netherlands and Australia
  • Pablo Valdivia Martin, hoogleraar Europese cultuur en literatuur, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen – Towards literary science: from the national to the knowledge metaphor
  • Anne Vegter, dichter en voorzitter van de Akademie van Kunsten

N.B. De lezingen van Anna Poletti en Pablo Valdivia Martin zijn in het Engels.

Please click here for more information.

OSL PhD Day 2021: Save the Date!

Venue/format to be announced | 11 June 2021

NB: The event will also be open to ReMA students and other members of the OSL community, although OSL PhDs will be given priority.


To all OSL PhD students: save the date!

We are delighted to announce that we have secured a date and two wonderful keynote speakers for our upcoming PhD Day on the theme “The Different Uses of Literature Today and Possible Futures for Literary Studies”. The PhD day will take place on 11 June 2021 and will consist of a full-day program.

The opening lecture will be given by dr. Merve Emre, who is based at Oxford University and is a frequent contributor of literary criticism to a.o. The New York Review of BooksThe New Yorker, and The Atlantic. Emre will share her analysis-in-progress of the current “post-discipline era,” in which the value of literature is partly or even mostly determined outside of literary criticism and scholarship.

Later in the day, dr. Sinan Çankaya will provide us with a second keynote lecture. Çankaya is a cultural anthropologist at Vrije Universiteit and has recently written Mijn ontelbare identiteiten (“My Countless Identities,” 2020), an autobiographical work of non-fiction about growing up as the child of immigrants in The Netherlands. He will share with us his experiences with extra-academic publishing.

In addition to these keynote speakers, we will give the floor to some of you, our own PhD students, to present your work in progress. In the upcoming months we will send out a more elaborate invitation, but for the time being our message is the following: Please make sure to save the date – June 11th 2021!


OSL PhD representatives:

Judith Jansma (University of Groningen)

Kim Schoof (Open University)

Promotie – Roel Smeets (Radboud Universiteit)

Promotie - Roel Smeets (Radboud Universiteit)
— for English, see below —
Aanstaande 24 november om 16.30 stipt verdedigt Roel Smeets zijn proefschrift Character Constellations: Representations of Social Groups in Present-Day Dutch Literary Fiction
Daar zullen helaas slechts enkelen fysiek bij aanwezig kunnen zijn. Maar gelukkig is er de optie om via de livestream toch deel te nemen aan de plechtigheid, dat kan via deze link.  Jullie zijn van harte uitgenodigd om het evenement op deze manier toch virtueel bij te wonen. Het is ontzettend jammer dat de promotie in kleine kring moet plaatsvinden, en juist daarom zou Roel jullie belangstelling en aanwezigheid op afstand extra waarderen.
Voor praktische vragen over de verdediging kun je contact opnemen met Lucas van der Deijl (l.a.vanderdeijl[at]uva.nl).
Roel Smeets will be defending his dissertation Character Constellations: Representations of Social Groups in Present-Day Dutch Literary Fiction on November 24th, 4.30 p.m. sharp.
Unfortunately, only a limited number of guests are allowed to be present at the venue of the defense. However, it is possible to watch the ceremony via a livestream, which will be available at this webpage. You are very welcome to attend the defense online. Especially now that only a few people can be present in person, Roel would appreciate your online attendance very much.
For practical questions about the defense please contact Lucas van der Deijl (l.a.vanderdeijl[at]uva.nl).

De kunst van het boekomslag

De kunst van het boekomslag

Woensdag 2 december 2020 | 14:00-17:00 | Online

Registratie opent op 28 oktober.

Ontwerpers, uitgevers en schrijvers stoppen veel tijd in het creëren van aantrekkelijke omslagen. Een geslaagde omslag kan een boek maken of breken, lezers verleiden tot een aankoop of ze juist afstoten. Tegelijkertijd wordt ook op andere manieren aandacht besteed aan omslagen: denk bijvoorbeeld aan de Volkskrant-rubriek waarin trends en terugkerende thema’s in ontwerpen voor boekomslagen worden besproken.

Dit najaar verschijnt het boek The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers, and Art at the Edges of Literatures. In dit boek buigen literatuurwetenschapper David Alworth en ontwerper Peter Mendelsund zich over de geschiedenis, betekenis en toekomst van boekomslagen. Zij komen 2 december virtueel naar Nederland om over hun boek te vertellen en in gesprek te gaan met ontwerpers, studenten, boekhandelaren en andere professionals uit het boekenvak.

Deze middag zullen we in gesprek gaan over de huidige staat van het vak. Wat is anno 2020 een goede cover? Welke ontwikkelingen zien ze in het veld? Wat zijn de uitdagingen waar ze zich voor gesteld zien? Wat is de kunst van het boekomslag?

Bevestigde gasten zijn onder meer Lisa Kuitert, hoogleraar Boekwetenschap aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Jaap Biemans, de prijswinnende ontwerper van onder meer de covers van Volkskrant Magazine, en uitgever Menno Hartman van Van Oorschot.

De inschrijving gaat open op 28 oktober. Meld u aan voor de OSL-nieuwsbrief om op de hoogte te blijven.


13.45: Zoom open

14.00: Welkom

14.10: Lezing David Alworth en Peter Mendelsund

14.40: Korte lezingen door:

Lisa Kuitert (hoogleraar Boekwetenschap, Universiteit van Amsterdam), Bart Rouwhorst (ontwerper Rouwhorst + Van Roon), Erwin de Vries (boekhandelaar Godert Walter, Groningen), Menno Hartman (uitgever, Van Oorschot)

15.30: pauze

15.45: Q&A, discussie

17.00 uiterlijk einde


‘De kunst van het boekomslag’ wordt georganiseerd door Jesse van Amelsvoort en Ron van Roon, met ondersteuning van de Beroepsorganisatie Nederlandse Ontwerpers (BNO), de Onderzoeksschool Literatuurwetenschap (OSL) en het PictoRight Fonds.



Ravenstein Seminar 2021: Literature, Language and Belonging

Online winter school | 20-22 January 2021

Organizers: Jesse van Amelsvoort (Groningen), Dr. Birgit Kaiser (Utrecht), Dr. Aukje van Rooden (UvA), prof. dr. Margriet van der Waal (UvA/Groningen)
Venue: Online
Credits: 5-6 EC (with assignments) or 2 EC (attendance and participation only).
Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access.

Registration will open November 4th.

PLEASE NOTE: When registering, please indicate following:

  • Whether you want to obtain 5-6 EC (with assignments) or 2 EC (attendance and participation only)
  • Indicate your research interest


Short description

Literature distinguishes itself from other art forms through its use of language. Without language, no literature. At the same time, language also binds groups of speakers together through its everyday use as means of communication and the intimate ties that exist between language and culture. Therefore, language is closely related to notions of (national) belonging: it offers an individual membership of a particular cultural and political collective. Writers contribute to shape these social collectives, even though some writers do not find themselves at home there and have consequently asked probing questions about the cultural politics of their writing, their use of language and the community-constituting effects of their writing. In this winter school, we will explore the various ways in which literature, through its use of language, creates, sustains and contests notions of belonging. We take our keywords – ‘literature’, ‘language’ and ‘belonging’ as invitations to think about what the connection between these keywords mean or could mean.

Topics we will discuss include:

  • literary multi- and translingualism;
  • translation and (un)translatability;
  • language variety and the aesthetics of difference;
  • meaning-making and the instability of language;
  • language standardization and the nation-state;
  • literary and linguistic expressions of belonging;
  • minority languages and literatures;
  • colonialism and language politics.

We will be joined by national and international scholars who will present their current research projects and discuss the challenges of interdisciplinary and multilingual research. Our aim is to connect literary studies on the one hand with linguistic concerns, and on the other hand build bridges with social scientific disciplines such as anthropology and cultural geography engaging with questions of language and belonging.

The purpose of the winter school is to give participating RMa and PhD students an introduction that is both broad and deep into the complex and changing configurations of literature, language and belonging; to provide them with an overview of current debates and innovative research practices; and to give them the opportunity to explore possible topics for research activities of their own.

Suggested readings

The actual reader with prescribed texts will follow. In the meantime, students wishing to prepare themselves can turn to the following texts:

  • Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006).
  • Apter, Emily, Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability (London: Verso, 2013).
  • Dowling, Sarah, Translingual Poetics: Writing Personhood under Settler Colonialism (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2018).
  • Gal, Susan, “Migration, Minorities and Multilingualism: Language Ideologies in Europe,” in: Language Ideologies, Policies, and Practices: Language and the Future of Europe, edited by Clare Mar-molinero and Patrick Stevenson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 13-27.
  • Gilmour, Rachael, and Tamar Steinitz (eds.). Multilingual Currents in Literature, Translation and Culture (London/New York: Routledge, 2018).
  • Gramling, David, The Invention of Monolingualism (London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2016).
  • Grönstrand, Heidi, Markus Huss, and Ralf Kauranen (eds.), The Aesthetics and Politics of Linguistic Borders: Multilingualism in Northern European Literature (London/New York: Routledge, 2019).
  • Helgesson, Stefan, and Thomas Mads Rosendahl, Literature and the World (London/New York: Routledge, 2019).
  • Kellman, Steven, The Translingual Imagination (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).
  • Laachir, Karima, Sara Marzagora, and Francesca Orsini, “Significant Geographies: In lieu of World Literature,” in: Journal of World Literature 3.3 (2018): 290-310.
  • Lennon, Brian, In Babel’s Shadow: Multilingual Literatures, Monolingual States (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).
  • Lionnet, Françoise, and Shu-mei Shih (eds.), Minor Transnationalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).
  • Orsini, Francesca, “The Multilingual Local in World Literature,” in: Comparative Literature 67.4 (2015): 345-74.
  • Sommer, Doris, Proceed with Caution, When Engaged by Minority Writing in the Americas (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
  • Walkowitz, Rebecca, Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in the Age of World Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015).
  • Yildiz, Yasemin, Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012).


We have confirmed the following speakers as keynote speakers:

  • Philip Leonard (Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom)
  • Rachael Gilmour (Queen Mary, London, United Kingdom)
  • Sarah Dowling (University of Toronto, Canada). Title: “Settler Monolingualism: Language Politics and Racialization in North America”
  • Helena Bodin (Stockholm University, Sweden).


The full programme will be uploaded soon.

OSL Workshop: Literature and the Social

Literature and the Social

Online workshop | 4 December 2020, 16:00-17:30 CET | Organizer: Jesse van Amelsvoort (Groningen) | Keynote: Prof. David Alworth (Harvard) | 1-2 EC

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access.


THE WORKSHOP 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.

Towards the end of the twentieth century, the study of literature became decidedly more sociological. Under the influence of thinkers such as Pierre Bourdieu and disciplines such as gender and postcolonial studies, scholars started paying attention to the context of literary production. This move has sometimes seen literature reduced to a status subordinated to other disciplines – merely the offshoot of other, ‘real’ processes in society and culture. In this seminar, we counter this view and aim to rethink how literature relates to the social, in particular regarding the ways in which literature can make our social world legible and visible in new ways.
Literature, David Alworth argues in his book Site Reading, is in fact a rich source of sociological knowledge. Departing from Bruno Latour’s sociology, especially his actor-network theory (ANT), Alworth demonstrates the value of literature and literary studies for understanding the social. By attending to the various sites that function as the backdrop of the action in literary works, we can see how these sites either restrict characters’ actions, or enable them. If we want to know more about the human experience of collectivity, we might as well turn to literary representations of that experience. The workshop aims not only to facilitate interaction and dialogue among the participants, but also explicitly encourages them to actively search for new ways of reading and criticism and include them in their own research projects.

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers: Framen, schrappen en herschrijven

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers

Skills course | 11, 12, 13 & 15 Januari 2021 | Universiteit Utrecht | vier bijeenkomsten (tbc) | Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Geert Buelens (Utrecht) | 3 EC (NB: De cursus wordt in bimodaal formaat gegeven)

Bestemd voor: Promovendi en RMa Studenten, OSL leden hebben voorrang bij inschrijving


Valorisatie wordt in de wetenschap steeds belangrijker. En dan gaat het er niet alleen over dat je onderzoek aansluiting vindt bij maatschappelijke thema’s, maar ook dat je aan het brede publiek duidelijk kunt maken waar het over gaat en wat er interessant aan is. In deze korte, intensieve schrijfcursus leer je in verschillende tekstgenres je onderzoek te presenteren. Hoe kun je in een opiniërende column de aansluiting zoeken bij de actualiteit? Welke offers moet je (niet) brengen wanneer je in de media komt of een boek schrijft voor een publieksuitgeverij? Hoe kun je je onderzoek ‘framen’? De cursus bestaat uit schrijfoefeningen en discussies.

Docent: Geert Buelens, hoogleraar Moderne Nederlandse Letterkunde Universiteit Utrecht en meermaals bekroond en vertaald essayist, columnist en schrijver van literaire non-fictie.

Programma (onder voorbehoud)

11 januari 2021: 11.15 – 12.15 | Introductie
12 januari 2021: 10.00 – 17.00
13 januari 2021: 14.00 – 17.00
15 januari 2021: 10.00 – 17.00


NISIS/OSL Workshop: Muslim Worlds / World Literatures

Online workshop (NISIS/OSL) | 12 February 2021, 12:00-18:00 | 2-3 ECs

Organizers: Prof. Christian Lange (NISIS) and Dr Alberto Godioli (OSL)

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; NISIS and OSL members have first access.


THE WORKSHOP 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 workshop is the first collaboration between the Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies (NISIS) and the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL). As suggested by the plurals in the title, the event aims to question univocal views of both Muslim culture and world literature. On the one hand, we will consider Muslim worlds in their diversity, as opposed to representations of Islam as a dominant, stable essence. On the other, we will problematize the notion of world literature by way of interrogating its multiple definitions and socio-political implications. From One Thousand and One Nights to the latest novel by Jokha Alharthi, we will explore the different ways in which Muslim cultures have shaped (and have been shaped by) the world’s literary landscape.

The workshop will consist of three online sessions led by international experts in Islamic and/or literary studies (12:00-13:30, 14:30-16:00, 16:30-18:00, with short breaks during each session). Speakers will include: Dr Petra de Bruijn (Leiden University), Dr Hiyem Cheurfa (Lancaster University), Dr Richard van Leeuwen (University of Amsterdam) and Dr Liesbeth Minnaard (Leiden University). A more detailed program will be circulated closer to the date of the event.