OSL Course: Computational Literary Studies

OSL Course: Computational Literary Studies

University of Amsterdam | April – May 2021, five sessions (tbc) | 3-6 ECs | Organiser: prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (UvA) | Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access 

Registration will open Fall 2020

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.

OSL Seminar: Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

OSL Seminar: Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

University of Amsterdam | Dates: March – April 2021 (tbc), five sessions | Coordinator: Dr. Marleen Rensen (UvA) | 5 EC | Open to: RMA students and PhD candidates, OSL members will have first access

Registration will open Fall 2020

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.

OSL Workshop: From Crisis to Critique: Languages of Resistance, Transformation, and Futurity in Mediterranean Crisis-Scapes

From Crisis to Critique

4-5 March 2021, Leiden University (will move online if necessary) | Organizers: Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi (Leiden/UvA), Dr. Liesbeth Minnaard (UvA) and Dr. Janna Houwen (Leiden) | 1-2 EC | Open to: PhD Candidates and RMa Students, OSL members will have first access

Registration will open Fall 2020

Today, the term crisis is often ‘hijacked’ by far-right, xenophobic, and anti-democratic agendas that shrink the space of political choice and the imagination of alternative futures. In this workshop we ask if there are ways to salvage crisis as a concept that can do the work of its cognate—critique—and participate in the articulation of alternative languages, literary narratives, and other modes of representation in visual, digital and social media, cinema, and art.

Our rethinking of crisis and critique will take shape through the prism of a region that has become the epicenter of various declared crises in recent years: the Mediterranean. By rethinking contemporary Mediterranean crisis-scapes, we will probe interconnections between new languages of resistance, protest, transformation, and futurity emerging primarily from literary, artistic, and other forms of cultural expression and political activism in the region, both in physical spaces and on the web. Aim of the workshop is to explore how we can move from crisis to critique; from crisis as a restrictive framework to crisis as a form of critique that triggers alternative interpretations of the present and mobilizes these as occasions for social and historical change in Mediterranean societies and beyond.

OSL Workshop: How Not to Write a Novel

OSL Workshop: How Not to Write a Novel

21 May 2021, Amsterdam, Eye Filmmuseum | Organizer: Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia (Groningen); Invited author: Jesús Carrasco | 1-2 EC | Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access

Registration will open Fall 2020

How not to Write a Novel seems to be a joke but it is not. This workshop delivered by the Spanish writer Jesús Carrasco (De Vlucht 2013, De Grond Onder Onze Voeten, 2016, both published in Dutch by Meulenhoff) tries to be a record of his experience in writing his third novel. But why should the writing of a third novel be so difficult? Why not the second? The answer is simple. The second novel was written just after the first one was finished and before it was published. That means that neither of them was written with real readers in mind. This makes a difference, and this idea is the starting point for this workshop. The paradox of directing a literary work to the readers (without whom fiction writing is incomplete) and, at the same time, the necessity of getting rid of the presence of the readers in order to finish the work free from external influence. It is absurd to write fiction pretending no one is waiting for the text. Writing, unless you write a diary strictly reserved for your own eyes, is an act of communication. Literature is a message in a bottle cast into the sea in the belief that forces that the author can’t control, like the tides in the ocean, will drive the text to the readers on the shores. What the author did wrong in that attempt will give the workshop participants a glimpse of what amazing things can happen when trying to write a novel.

OSL/NICA Symposium: Posthuman Futures in Literature and Art

Posthuman Futures in Literature and Art

OSL/NICA symposium | 10-11 June 2021, Amsterdam | Organizers: Amalia Calderón and José Bernardo Pedroso Couto Soares (UvA) | 2-3 EC | Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL and NICA members have first access.

Registration will open Fall 2020

In order for our ecosystem to survive, humanity needs radical storytelling (Haraway). This seminar series seeks to explore how art & fiction, as both discipline and cultural practice, can envision a posthuman future. Starting from the point of spatial injustice and (ecological) exile, it will investigate past and current artistic projects that confront anthropocentric, speciesist and xenophobic discourses. Moving on to alternative forms of storytelling we will draw upon the body, memory and fluctuating identity conceptions that re-imagine narratives in the hands of the subaltern (i.e. queerness, animals, indigenous populations). Finally, the seminars will enquire on the role of posthuman art as a practice, and how its methodologies and objectives confer art & fiction a specific role in posthumanism.

This is a collaborative project that encompasses disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, including: theater, literary, performance, environmental and decolonial studies; sociology; comparative literature; and artistic research. The seminars aim to delve into the problematics and potentialities of several forms of art & fiction, and on how they are understood both as a practice and as a cultural phenomenon within the framework of posthumanism.

The seminars will consist of a 2-day series of lectures, organized in three blocks: (Ecological) Exile & Spatial Justice, Alternative Storytelling and Practising Posthuman Art. Presentations are open to either academic lectures or artistic performances. The seminars will include two extra activities: on the first day, there will be a roundtable by experts of different fields, with the aim of bridging disciplines and formulating new questions; on the second day, attendants will have the opportunity to participate on an Art Slam and present their research (artistic/posthuman/both) in a competition.

Useful resources for online teaching

Dear Members of the OSL Community,

We would like to share with you a couple of links that might be useful in the context of our current transition to online teaching:

1. Webinar by Prof. Eric Mazur (Harvard), How to flip your class online: https://calendly.com/ericmazur/fliponline?month=2020-04 (available slots on Monday 20 and Thursday 30 April)

2. Informational video on Perusall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxEfWdfxj28&t=4s Perusall is a social annotation tool developed by Harvard University; more details can be found here.

All the best,

The OSL Team

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

The Hague | NB: Postponed to February – March 2021; more details will follow as soon as possible.

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.


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.