OSL Academic Program 2024-2025

The first overview of the OSL academic program for 2024-2025 is now available! For most of the activities taking place in Semester 1, registration will open on September 2nd, 2024 (more details will be shared in our August newsletter). If you have any questions, you are welcome to send an email to osl@rug.nl.

NB: Unless stated otherwise, all events are being planned as onsite.

Semester 1 (September 2024 – January 2025)

Workshop ‘Interactive Topic Analysis with Multi-Lingual Embeddings in Communalytic’ | September 5th, Groningen | Organizers: The Patio, Groningen Centre for Digital Humanities, Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL), and Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG). 1 EC. NB: Registration is already open via the link above.

This hands-on tutorial will introduce users to Communalytic, a research tool developed by the Social Media Lab for studying online communities and discourse. The session will include an overview of Communalytic’s features and a step-by-step guide on using Communalytic’s built-in topic analysis module.
By the end of the tutorial, participants will know how to use a large language model (LLM) to transform social media data into vectors of numbers known as embeddings. The tutorial will also show attendees how to visualize the resulting vectors via Nomic Atlas, a third-party tool that enables users to represent and explore embeddings in an interactive map with labels assigned automatically based on the semantic similarity of the posts’ content. Please click here for more details.

Work-in-progress seminar ‘Bodies of Water’ | Online, 13 September 2024.

The Sustainable Humanities research group is hosting an online work-in-progress seminar on “bodies of water” on September 13, 2024, 15-16:30 CEST. The presentations will engage various dimensions of and approaches to the Blue Humanities from a range of contexts and periods. Interested colleagues and students can attend via this link. Registration is not necessary. For more information, please contact Teun Joshua Brandt (t.j.brandt@rug.nl).  

Speakers: Teun Joshua Brandt (University of Groningen), Kate Huber (Tilburg University), Marco Formisano and Leila Williamson (Ghent University), Julée Al-Bayaty de Ridder (Radboud University).

Conference ‘Fanfiction and the Ancient World’
| October 4th-5th, Nijmegen (Oct. 4th) and online (Oct. 5th) | Organizers: Julia Neugarten (Radboud University) and Amanda Potter (Open University and University of Liverpool). 1EC.

How can fan studies contribute to the study of Greco-Roman Antiquity and the field of Classical reception? How can Classics contribute to the study of fan culture? How does the community we call Greek mythology fandom differ from the community we call Classicists? How are they similar? How can they challenge and support each other’s knowledges, methodologies, and epistemologies? The Fanfiction and the Ancient World conference hopes to bring these two disciplines into dialogue with each other and to offer an academic platform to scholars working on the intersection of these fields.
Please click here for full description and CfP (deadline for abstracts: 7 July 2024).


Moving Europe: A Podcast Series
| September 25th (Amsterdam), October 9th (Leiden, podcast workshop), October 30th and November 6th (Amsterdam), November 27th (Leiden, podcast recording), December 11th and 18th (Amsterdam), 15:00-18:00 (NB: The recording session on 27/11 is from 13:00-17:00) | Organizers: Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (University of Groningen) and Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (Leiden University). 5 EC.

In this workshop, we will investigate how literature is able to reflect, talk back, deconstruct and challenge different narratives of Europe that circulate in the European public sphere. Narratives, for example, that teleologically construct Europe as having a clear historical origin; that rewrite European history to serve a specific political agenda; that function as bordering spaces of in- and exclusion; that imagine Europeans as a homogeneous group; or that conceive of Europe as a social constitution of overlapping and potentially conflicting identities.
We will use the popular format of the podcast to communicate our scholarly findings to a broader audience. Therefore, this course is also a practical exercise in science communication. Our plenary sessions will serve as editorial meetings where students and staff collectively act as an editorial board with a shared responsibility for the podcast production. This requires a professional work attitude from those who choose this course. Participants will receive practical training in podcasting from Thomas Vorisek (Leiden University), who will also supervise the recording and editing of the podcasts. The goal is to publish four podcast. Please click here  for full description!

Seminar ‘Writing Extinction and the Planetary Turn’
| Venue TBC, October – December 2024. Organizer: Prof. Michael Boyden (Radboud University). 5-6 ECs.

Growing awareness of the planet-wide metamorphoses set in motion by overexploitation, pollution, colonial expansion, and extractivism has spawned forms of cultural and literary production that engage in various ways with the theme of extinction. Artists and literary authors from both the Global North and South have developed narratives anticipating total extinction events, for instance through “last human” or “non-human future geologist” tropes. In this course, we explore this “planetary turn” in fiction and art. We will not only interrogate the affordances of specific forms to postulate futures of hopefulness and resilience in the face of planetary precarity, but also problematize narratives that center Euro-Western histories and experiences or that use deep temporalities to articulate exclusionary settler colonial emergency imaginaries. In addition, we will consider alternative cultural forms that highlight decolonial or other-than-human perspectives.
The series consists of seven biweekly seminars, to be held between October and December 2024. The course will include a masterclass with professor David Sergeant, professor of English at the University of Plymouth and author of  The Near Future in 21st Century Fiction: Climate, Retreat and Revolution (Cambridge UP, 2023).

International Blended Seminar ‘The Shoah in European Memory’
| Online + optional onsite workshop, 14 October – 20 December 2024 | Organizer: Dr László Muntean (Radboud University). 7 ECs.

With students coming from Lucerne, Paris, Cologne, Berlin, Nijmegen, and Warsaw, this international course focuses on practices of Holocaust remembrance from the wake of World War II to the present. To address the manifold ways in which the Shoa has been incorporated into national, international, and transnational memory practices, we will mobilize a large variety of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological approaches including Holocaust studies, memory studies, public history, museum studies, visual culture, as well as recent scholarship on ethics, space, affect, and materiality. Assuming an international and interdisciplinary perspective, the goal of this seminar is to acquire an in-depth understanding of the social, political, and cultural forces that have been instrumental over the past eight decades in shaping, contesting, and reshaping the memory of the Holocaust in Europe. This perspective will also allow us to examine the uses and limitations of such salient concepts as cultural trauma, counter-monument, prosthetic memory, multidirectional memory, and postmemory.
Please click here for more information.

Seminar ‘Forms of Postcolonial and Postsocialist Time: Eternal Presents and Resurfacing Futures’
| Amsterdam/Groningen, November – December 2024. Organizers: Dr Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen), Dr Hanneke Stuit and Dr Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Amsterdam). 5 ECs.

This course addresses the ways in which literature and art, in their generic capacity for multi-perspective representation, reimagine place and agency within the eternal present inaugurated by the end of the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s. This global discourse of contemporaneity was meant to deconstruct the linear progressive time of modernity that dominated the 20th century. However, arrested within such perceptions of new spatio-temporal fluidities of “the contemporary” were the heterogeneous temporalities of decolonization and democratization in societies that had been negotiating the impacts and afterlives of empire and ideological conflicts of the Cold War across the long 20th century. Today, we observe a certain “return of history” in calls for decolonization that have come to define militant imperialisms and nationalisms across the globe, as well as activist resistance to nation-statist hegemonies. The war in Ukraine, and continuing conflicts over postcolonial sovereignty across former colonial sites like Hong Kong, Kashmir, or Palestine reveal such circularities of eternal presents and resurfacing futures. These temporalities, while appealing to new calls for liberation, are nonetheless often dominated by nation-state driven essentialist past-orientedness and the wish to preserve the existing hegemony.


Ravenstein winter school ‘S is for Scholarship: Approaches to Children’s Literature’
| Tilburg, 22-24 January 2025 | Organizers: Dr Élodie Malanda (Tilburg University), Dr Vera Veldhuizen (University of Groningen). 6ECs.

Children’s and Young Adult (YA) literature is literature, but it is also visual art, an educational tool, a socialising device and more. It is literature by adults for children, but it can also be literature by children. The many complex layers behind its seemingly simple facade allow for multiple ways of reading and invite diverse methodological approaches. For instance, Max Velthuijs’ Frog series can be seen as a collection of simple stories about an anthropomorphised frog, yet deeper studies of the books show the complex way through which the image-texts together communicate and explain complex emotions like grief, xenophobia and love, and encourage empathy for children up to four years old. The very nature of the (intended) audience means that researchers must use methodologies specific to the field of children’s literature. For instance, the multimodal nature of picturebooks poses particular semiotic and cognitive challenges in their interpretation, therefore requiring specific approaches particular to the genre. The young adult-dominated digital sphere of fanfiction provides avenues of empowered franchise interactions hitherto unknown in mainstream publishing. The study of these texts, which are often written by young (and sometimes marginalised) people, raises several ethical issues that influence the choice of methodological approaches. Finally, the disagreements surrounding “appropriateness” of children’s media reveal the deep underlying adult anxieties surrounding the moral and political influences children’s stories can have.
How do we as researchers deal with these moral and political influences? How can we study their reception by children and young adults? And what role does our own ideological positionality play in our analysis of children’s and YA literature? In this Winter School, we will discuss different methodological approaches to expand on broader questions surrounding and inherent in the field of children’s literature. Over the course of three days, we will cover the three topics of: picturebooks and multimodality, literature by young people, and the socializing aspect of children’s and YA literature, particularly through the lens of children’s literature and activism. Through in-depth discussions of seminal children’s texts, we encourage a new critical understanding of this foundational genre, both regarding its very nature and the potentiality it holds in relation both to the literary arts, as well as its young audience.

Confirmed speakers: Rosalyn Borst (Tilburg University), Dr Jennifer Duggan (University of South-Eastern Norway) and Dr Farriba Schulz (Humboldt University Berlin). A full description will be shared soon.

Symposium ‘Meditations on Malevolence: Exploring Evil in Modern Fiction’
| Utrecht, 31 January 2025. Organizer: Bart Mulderij (University of Groningen). 1-2 EC.

‘Meditations on Malevolence’ is a one-day symposium on the representation of evil in literature, taking place in Utrecht on 31st January 2025. The symposium will feature lectures by two keynote speakers, namely Prof. Maria Boletsi and Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes. In addition, there will be two panels with presentations by students and early career scholars. Please click here  for full description and CfP.

Semester 2 (February – July 2025)

Seminar ‘Queer Textual Politics’ | Amsterdam, February – April 2025. Organizer: Dr Jesse van Amelsvoort (University of Amsterdam). 5-6 ECs.

In Tendencies, Sedgwick (2005) wrote, “[q]ueer is a continuing moment, movement, motive—recurrent, eddying, troublant. The word ‘queer’ itself means across—it comes from the Indo-European root –twerkw, which also yields the German quer (transverse), Latin torquere (to twist), English athwart” (p. viii). This seminar explores literature across different cultures, times, and spaces, emphasising Sedgwick’s concept of ‘across-ness’. It introduces foundational texts and theories related to gender and sexuality and provides new and critical perspectives on queer scholarship and activism. We aim to shed light on diverse and complex perspectives, particularly of the Global South. The seminar seeks to promote more inclusive and equitable approaches to queer theory. It not only concerns itself with the queer content of texts and the identity politics thereof but also explores textual politics to unpack aesthetic manoeuvres and gaps in signifying practices. We examine cultural productions across a wide range of cultural-geographic contexts, from the United States to Nigeria, and from the United Kingdom to Russia. The seminar is organised around weekly themes, featuring literary works from early modern Ottoman poetry to contemporary Taiwanese fiction, along with theoretical texts on aesthetics, Marxist theory, disability studies, poststructuralism, and postcolonial theory. In addition to examining historical accounts of genders and sexualities, this seminar investigates how queer theory informs us about living differently and enables us to seek new ways of being in the world.

Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers: Framen, schrappen en herschrijven
| Utrecht, March – April 2025. Organizer: Prof. Geert Buelens (Utrecht University). 3EC.

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.

Seminar ‘Contemporary Debates in Life Writing’
| Amsterdam, April – May 2025 (5 sessions). Organizer: Dr. Marleen Rensen (UvA). 5 ECs.

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.

Skills Course ‘Computational Literary Studies’
| Amsterdam and online, April – June 2025. Organizer: Prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (University of Amsterdam). 3-6 ECs.

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.

Creative Writing Course ‘Activist Approaches to Fiction Writing’ | Groningen, April – June 2025. Organizer: Dr Suzanne Manizza-Roszak (University of Groningen). 5 ECs.
The course description will be published in Fall 2024.

Workshop on Queer Poetry
| Utrecht, June 2025. Organizer: Dr Gandolfo Cascio (Utrecht University). 1-2 ECs.
More details will be shared in Fall 2024.

| June 2025, 1EC.
More details will follow in early 2025.

Hermes Summer School 
| Montpellier (France), June 2025.
More details will follow in Fall 2024.

Institute of World Literature Summer Program
| Venue TBA, July 2025.
More details will follow in Fall 2024.