OSL Seminar: Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

Amsterdam | April – May 2022, exact dates to be confirmed [NB: The course is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers:Dr. Marleen Rensen (UvA) and Dr. Babs Boter (VU)

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

Credits: 5ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in early 2022.

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.


More details on the programme will follow soon.

OSL Skills Course: Computational Literary Studies

Hybrid (Amsterdam) / Online | March – May 2022 (exact dates will be announced soon)

Organizer: Prof. Dr. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (University of Amsterdam)

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

Credits: 3-6ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in early 2022.


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 hands-on 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
  • 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
  • Students learn to reflect on the relation of research questions and digital methods in literary studies.


More details on the programme will follow soon.

OSL Skills Course: Creative Non-Fiction Writing

Groningen | 4, 11 and 25 February 2022; 4 March and 11 March 2022 [NB: This is planned as an onsite event, but will move online if necessary]

Organizer: Dr Suzanne Manizza Roszak (University of Groningen)

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

Credits: 5ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in Fall 2021.


This course will introduce students to contemporary works of creative nonfiction and invite students to develop their own writing practice within this rich and diverse genre. Participants will read recent short-form works that incorporate memoir alongside biography, historical narrative, and cultural commentary using a variety of formal strategies. Treating these works as mentor texts, students will also produce their own creative nonfiction and will cultivate an awareness of the various ways in which they might choose to draw inspiration from as well as innovate on current approaches to the genre. Every seminar meeting will include a workshop component, with students presenting drafts for peer feedback. Polished versions of these drafts will then be submitted at the end of the block. A final reflective meta-writing assignment will create space for student authors to consider how their thematic preoccupations and aesthetic choices connect to the course readings and to the larger body of contemporary creative nonfiction writing. Guidance will also be provided for students who are interested in submitting their work for possible publication in literary magazines.

Ravenstein Winter School: Literature, (Neo)liberalism, and Public Culture

Amsterdam | 19-20-21 January 2022 [NB: The event is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi (Leiden University / University of Amsterdam), Dr. Marc Farrant, Divya Nadkarni, Dr. Marco de Waard (University of Amsterdam)


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

Credits: 5-6ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in Fall 2021.


Against the rapidly accelerating ravages of neoliberalism across the globe, the term “liberal” has, more than ever, come to be contested in public debate. Yet the idea of the novel as a “liberal” genre – dating to the heyday of nineteenth-century realism – persists, even as it may (at times) struggle to break free of its Western heritage. In the effort to imagine alternative forms of social organization and political community beyond an individualist ontology, and to come to terms with new modes of reading and critique beyond the neoliberal imprint, fiction writers are developing modes of expression that innovatively negotiate continuities with older forms and literary traditions – precisely as they seek to respond to what is new. In tracking and mapping the new forms of literary expression and practices of critique that are emerging in and for (late, neo,- or post-)liberal times, this winter school aims to hold the different meanings of “liberal” – indeed, the full spectrum – in play: from political and economic (neo-)liberalism, on the one hand, to literary or aesthetic liberalism (especially in the context of old and new realisms in the novel) on the other, while also making room for decolonial and critical race approaches.

The winter school will focus on the kinship between the novel and its liberal heritage along two theoretical axes: the question of critique (in theory and practice) and the question of political community in the public sphere. Revisiting the valence of critique today, in proclaimed “post-critical” times, the school seeks to explore new critical grammars to address the challenges of our neoliberal “now,” including the shrinking of public space, rising inequality, the so-called culture wars, and the polarization of discourse in contemporary politics of language. Concerning the question of publicness, it seeks to examine how contemporary literatures across the globe represent, negotiate, or otherwise respond to tensions and contradictions at work in today’s public spheres – seen, for instance, in terms of new forms of protest and contestation around post-truth politics, putatively “liberal” notions of freedom of speech and expression, and the challenges posed to public assembly in times of a global pandemic. Insofar as today’s public spheres are being hollowed out by neoliberal dynamics of depoliticization, what new possibilities for political speech and action are being created, proposed, or (re)imagined in literary writing? And what function or role (if any) is being played in this by the “liberal” as a site of discursive contestation and a persistent historical referent?

Topics we will discuss include:

  • Literature (esp. the novel) and liberalism (cf. Nancy Armstrong, 2005: Amanda Anderson, 2011)
  • Neoliberalism, late liberalism, postliberalism
  • Literature and public culture, public spaces, the commons
  • Critique and postcritique
  • Politics of language, speech acts, identity, and community in contemporary cultural texts
  • The “contemporary” in literature, alternative temporalities, futurity
  • Literary responses to contemporary challenges (the pandemic, post-truth, environmental destruction)
  • Decolonial and critical race approaches to liberalism and literature


More details on the programme and assignments will follow soon.

OSL Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers: Framen, schrappen en herschrijven

Skills course | Januari 2022 | 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.


Registration will open in Fall 2021.

OSL Workshop: Women and Transnational Modernisms

Groningen or Utrecht | November 2021 (two days; venue and exact dates will be confirmed soon)

[NB: The event is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Camilla Sutherland (University of Groningen), Ruth Clemens (Utrecht University) and Kathryn Roberts (University of Groningen)

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

Credits: 1-2ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in September.


Responding to the recent ‘transnational turn’ in Modernist Studies, as well as the growing field signalled by the establishment of the Feminist Modernist Studies journal in 2018, this workshop will explore the relationship between gender and transnational modernism. Bringing together scholars of a variety of national and regional modernisms (North America, Europe, Latin America, and beyond), we seek to assess where women fit into the redrawing of the geographical borderlines of Modernist Studies and how to account for not only the geographic but also symbolic marginalisation of these figures. Spread over two days, the workshop will combine presentations, discussion groups and collaborative writing sessions.


Day One: 15-minute “work in progress” talks given by organizers and guest speakers – in these sessions we will share and receive feedback on current research being done in the area of gender and transnational modernism.

Day Two: Morning discussion seminar responding to a selection of recent articles published in the field; Afternoon peer group discussions and collaborative writing/brainstorming sessions setting down our thoughts on new directions for the field and possible future co-authored publications and projects.

OSL Seminar ‘How We Read: Interpretation, Relation, Mediation’

Groningen and Utrecht | 19 November 2021 (Groningen), 26 November (Utrecht), 3 December (Utrecht), 10 December (Groningen), 16 or 17 December (Utrecht, exact date tbc). Exact times will be confirmed soon.

[NB: The seminar is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Laura Bieger (University of Groningen), Prof. Dr. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth (University of Utrecht)

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

Credits: 5ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in September.


What happens when we read a literary text? How and why do we (like to) read it? How do the expectations, questions and perspectives we bring to a text contribute to making it meaningful? How does the materiality of a text affect the way we read?  How does reading literature differ from other types of reading?

Generations of scholars have puzzled over these questions and their significance for our understanding of what literature is and does. This course explores a range of critical perspectives, among them those by Sigmund Freud, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Derrida, Wolfgang Iser, Édouard Glissant, and Lauren Berlant. And those by our guests: Alexander Starre (FU Berlin), Liedeke Plate (Radboud University), Anna Poletti (University of Utrecht), Philipp Loeffler (Heidelberg University/FU Berlin), Jessica Pressman (UC San Diego). Literary texts include: Henry James, “The Real Thing” and M. Nourbese Philip, Zong!

The aim of the course is to familiarize students with both canonical and new methodologies of engaging with literary texts. We will explore approaches anchored in the practice of interpretation while also critically interrogating this form of literary engagement and challenging it with material and affective approaches to reading literature.


More details on the programme and assingments will be provided soon.

Eternal Presents and Resurfacing Futures: Postcolonial/Postsocialist Dynamics of Time and Memory in Literature and Art

Groningen | 28-29 October 2021 [NB: The event is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen), Hanneke Stuit (University of Amsterdam) and Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Amsterdam)

Keynote speakers: Ilya Kukulin (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Andrew van der Vlies (University of Adelaide), Françoise Vergès (Collège d’études mondiales | Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris)

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

Credits: 1-2ECs. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in September.

The end of the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s initiated a global discourse of contemporaneity that was meant to deconstruct the linear progressive time of modernity as well as its dialectics that dominated the 20th century. In literature and artistic imagination, this postmodern sensibility was meant to institute a new “politics of time” (Osborne) marked by globalization – both open and seamless, as well as generative of a new expansive, fluid episteme. The heavily Eurocentric myopia of this view found starkest expressions in the idea of the “end of history” (Fukuyama) that declared the end of politics itself. Yet arrested within such perceptions of new spatio-temporal fluidities of “the contemporary” were the heterogeneous temporalities of decolonization and democratic change in societies that had been negotiating the impacts and afterlives of empire and ideological conflicts of the Cold War itself across the long 20th century.


As the West’s accelerated histories perpetuated a politics of presentism, marked by the fear of time itself – chronophobia (Lee) – the “non-West”, implicated otherwise in the very dialectics that was now deemed “over” – has been left to grapple with epistemological hegemonies of homogeneous time. Yet, it is amidst the new postcolonial and postsocialist societies of the 1990s that we can encounter braided temporalities of struggle, affirmation, memorialization, and utopic horizons. We can seek here new and alternate forms of contemporaneity that do not eclipse the spectre of history but materialize it via aesthetic form. In this workshop, we foreground such forms, and ask: are connected questions around the dynamics of time and memory in postcolonial and postsocialist aesthetics possible? We turn to literature and art to seek new frontiers of dialogues, questions and potentialities.


This workshop addresses the ways in which literature and art, in their generic capacity for multi-perspective representation, reimagine place and agency in the impasse of an eternal present and develop ways of engaging with the past that “resurface” futurity. We propose to begin thinking about these questions from the “peripheries” of the Global South and the Global East which, despite their key role in the global transformations of the 1980-1990s, are mostly regarded as recipients rather than producers of theoretical and critical perspectives.  At the same time, the dynamics of transformation in these contexts continue to be largely divorced from each other and mediated via comparison to the West. We begin to think about and through the dynamics of time and memory since the 1990s beyond the “failures” of postcolonial and postsocialist transitions, and beyond traumatic repetition and postmodern cynicism. Drawing upon Jean and John L. Comaroffs’ proposition that African and other Global South societies are where key practices and ideas are being developed and tested before they “travel” to the West, we open a dialogue between these and postsocialist contexts of the Global East. We suggest that these entangled contexts generate alternative temporalities and constellations of time as they grapple with ambiguities of “post-transitional” experience and experiment with a variety of post- /alter-postmodernist modes.


Memory and place have been at the foreground of social and political contestation in postcolonial and postsocialist contexts, and so, these are the “sites” from which we begin our exploration. We approach memory in the broad sense as socio-cultural acts (Bal) of engaging with the past that shape, in each new iteration, specific connections between pasts, presents and futures, and determine the logic and the spatial coordinates of these temporal constructions. Through remembering, time is resignified and connected to (or disconnected from) place, and various acts of remediating constitute further temporal-spatial dynamics (Erll & Rigney). We aim to initiate new theorizations of postcolonial/ postsocialist entanglements by focusing on configurations of time and memory in practices of literature and art, for which “(post)colonialism” and “(post)socialism” are relevant markers (i.e. also including Western and diasporic practices). This inquiry brings together theoretical perspectives on historical time and memory, which often run parallel courses in cultural history and memory studies scholarship.


We ask: which temporalities are involved in acts of remembering as a “post-transitional” experience? And what ways of engaging with the past can we observe in narrative and visual constructions of the past in Southern and Eastern knowledges? How do imaginations from the Global South and East produce theoretical insights that rework hegemonic transnational cultural repertoires across the world?




Bal, Mieke. “Introduction.” Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present. Ed. by Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe and Leo Spitzer. Hanover & London: University Press of New England, 1999. Vii-xvii.


Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa. Boulder & London: Paradigm, 2012.


Erll, Astrid, and Ann Rigney. “Introduction: Cultural Memory and Its Dynamics.” Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory. Ed. by Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2008. 1-14.


Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press, 1992.


Lee, Pamela. Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2004.


Osborne, Peter. Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde. London: Verso, 1995.



[NB: All times are CET]

Day 1

10.00 – 10.15 – Welcome and introduction

10.15 – 11.30 – Keynote Françoise Vergès

11.30 – 12.00 – Coffee break

12.00 – 13.30 – Panel “Troubling Transitions: Postcolonial/Postsocialist Interventions”

13.30 – 14.30 – Lunch

14.30 – 16.00 – Panel “Beyond Impasses of Rural Time”

16.00 – 16.30 – Coffee break

16.30 – 17.45 – Keynote Ilya Kukulin


Day 2

10.15 – 11.30 – Keynote Andrew van der Vlies

11.30 – 12.00 – Coffee break

12.00 – 13.30 – Panel “Memory and Displacement”

13.30 – 14.30 – Lunch

14.30 – 16.00 – Roundtable

16.00 – 16.30 – Closing discussion



The workshop is sponsored by the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL), the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM).  It is organized by members of the OSL research group “Theories from the South and the East in Literature and Culture” and the AHM research group “Global Trajectories of Thought and Memory: Art and the Global South”.


Panels and participants

Keynotes: Abstracts and Bios

Credits and assignments

OSL Seminar: Europe as Narrative

Amsterdam | 6, 13, and 20 October 2021; 3, 10 and 17 November 2021 (14:00-17:00 CET) [NB: The seminar is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (University of Groningen) and Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (Leiden University)

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

Credits: 5EC. More details on the assignments will be provided at a later stage. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in September.


As Delanty (1995) reminds us, Europe is more than a geo-political reality, it is also an idea that is continuously reinvented as collective identities transform. In essence, ‘Europe’ is a signifier that different actors fill with competing narratives and meanings. But although the way in which Europe is given meaning has never been stable or unifold, in the contemporary political climate the debate about what and where ‘Europe’ is, and who Europeans are or should be, seems increasingly heated. In this debate two types of narratives about ‘Europe’ can be discerned, with some referring to Europe as a culture and as a civilization, and others primarily understanding Europe as a polity, de facto using it as a synonym for the EU. That these types of narratives can clash violently is clear, for example, from the populist rhetoric of politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands or Victor Orban in Hungary.

In this seminar we will explore different narratives of/on/about Europe. For this, we will depart from a number of questions. Firstly, how are ideas about the past utilized, for example by constructing Europe as a teleological narrative with clear historical origins, or by rewriting history in order to serve a contemporary political agenda? Secondly, how do narratives of Europe function as a space of in- and exclusion, by formulating an ‘us’ in opposition to a range of specific and less specific ‘others’? Thirdly, what do narratives of Europe tell us about the way in which Europeans are perceived, either as a homogeneous group, or diversely as a social constitution of different identities that overlap or conflict? We will approach these questions by focusing on a number of concepts that are central to how Europe is narrated: heritage, citizenship, crisis, migration, and (trans)nationalism. In our discussions, we will engage with a selection of topical theoretical texts and we will close read different cultural objects that reflect, talk back, deconstruct and challenge specific narratives of Europe.


More details on the programme will be announced soon.


OSL – The Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL@rug.nl)
Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (m.c.van.der.waal@rug.nl)
Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (a.l.b.van.weyenberg@hum.leidenuniv.nl)
For questions regarding content, please contact either Margriet or Astrid. For questions regarding practical matters, please contact the OSL office.

OSL Symposium: Decentering Narratives in Latin America

Amsterdam | 1 October 2021, 14:00-18:00 CET [NB: The event is planned as hybrid, but will move online if necessary]

Organizers: Juan Del Valle Rojas, Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte and Gonzalo Albornoz Barra (University of Groningen)

Open to: Everyone; OSL PhDs and RMA students have first access.

Credits: 1EC. More details on the assignment will be provided soon. NB: Credits can only be awarded to humanities ReMA and PhD students from Dutch universities.

Registration for the event will open in September.


Multiple narratives contribute to the shaping of individual and communal beliefs and practices — even more so today. However, what makes some of these narratives more pervasive than others? In the processes of sense- and decision-making, hegemonic narratives are positioned in the centre, namely the place from which institutions exert their influence.

These ‘central’ narratives tend to naturalize the unequal production and distribution of meaning, thereby marginalizing, invisibilizing and excluding many peripheral voices. Latin America is a prime example of how central narratives can generate social injustice, but also of emerging counter-hegemonic narratives. One example is the explosion of protests (street protests and civil disobedience actions) by citizens against inequality, exclusion and injustice, reaching its climax in Chile in 2019 and later spreading to many other neighbouring countries. To date, and despite the COVID epidemic, Latin American social mobilisation is still evolving and renewing in different formats. These recent mobilisations can be identified, in Gramsci’s words, as social actors of resistance countering criminalisation and repression on the part of the state. By so doing, these collective actions seek to decenter dominant narratives by redistributing the possibilities of the production of meaning. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done when it comes to the production and the impact of these movements in the cultural imagination. For example, following Kenneth Roberts’ article “(Re)Politicizing Inequalities: Movements, Parties, and Social Citizenship in Chile” (2016), could we say that we are experiencing insurrection rather than revolutionary movements? Which are the narratives portraying social mobilization in Latin America? To what extent do they have an impact on the cultural imaginary fabric?

In this international symposium experts from literary and cultural studies, politics and related fields analyse the production of diverse and decentered voices of resistance in Latin America. Together they will discuss the demands, struggles and cultural expressions of peripheral actors pursuing the design of inclusive spaces of dialogue.


14:00-14:10    Welcome: Elizabeth Pinilla Duarte; Juan del Valle Rojas; Gonzalo Albornoz Barra

14:10-14:50      Keynote Session: Jacqueline Fowks

14:50-15:10      Q&A

15:10-15:20      Coffee Break

15:20-16:00 Session 1:

–    Carlos Reyes Velásquez (15:20-15:40)

–    Diana Moreno (15:40-16:00)

16:00-16:10 Coffee Break

16:10-17:10 Session 2:

–    Peter W. Schulze (16:10 – 16:30)

–    Pablo Valdivia Martin (16:30 – 16:50)

–    Konstantin Mierau (16:50 – 17:10)

17:10-17:40    Final Workshop: Q&A Session with all Participants

17:40-18:00    Drinks