OSL Academic Programme 2020-2021

OSL Academic Progamme 2020-2021

The first overview of the OSL academic programme for 2020-2021 is now available! For the activities taking place in Semester 1, registration will open in September (more details will follow soon); if you have any questions, you are welcome to send an email to osl@rug.nl.

NB1: The programme below is not complete; more events may be added in the coming months. NB2: Due to the uncertain situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we do not know to what extent it will be possible to hold in-person gatherings during the next academic year, especially (but not exclusively) during Semester 1. As indicated below, most of our forthcoming activities are already designed as online events; in the remaining cases, we are keeping in contact with the organizers with a view to minimizing any possible disruption to our training activities.


Semester 1 (October 2020 – January 2021)


OSL Research Day

The Research Day is meant as an opportunity for all members of the OSL community to meet and further develop ongoing research collaborations, or start new ones. Since an online Research Day would defeat the very purpose of the event, and given the current situation, the Research Day will not take place in October 2020. The OSL Executive Team and Advisory Board will consider the possibility of postponing the event to Spring 2021, should the circumstances allow for it; more updates will follow in the coming months.


Africa beyond “Africa”: Literary explorations

Online seminar | 6 October, 20 October, 27 October, 3 November, 17 November, 24 November 2020 (15:00 – 17:00) | Coordinators: Dr. Astrid van Weyenberg (Leiden), Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (UvA/Groningen) | 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 course, we will problematize a number of assumptions about Africa and explore how contemporary African literature and film invite us to imagine and rethink Africa as part of the world and the location of the future. The seminar is not meant to represent a general overview of African literature and film, but aims to explore a number of topical issues with regard to contemporary literary and cultural production from and about Africa. We will apply an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on the knowledge and expertise from different academic fields working on the topic of African literature and film.

More information available here.


Creative Writing Course ‘Poetics – A Practioner’s Guide’

Online skills course | 2, 9, 16, 30 October and 6 November 2020, 12:00-15:00 | Coordinator: Dr David Ashford (Groningen) | 5 EC

This course will introduce participants to poetic genres, forms and metres, enabling them to develop, or to expand upon their own practice, as creative writers. Participants will study poetry from a variety of traditions, in order to understand how poetic form is determined by its original context in performance, and by the information, musical and theatrical technologies necessary to that original performative context. Far from being arbitrary or inorganic restrictions upon individual creativity, poetic form will emerge as the response to a context in performance that may since have been lost; as something organic, evolving and (potentially) still very much alive. Over a series of seminars and creative writing workshops, participants will investigate how ancient poetics have been (and might be) adapted for the creation of contemporary poetries, being introduced to recent research on creative writing as an historical and a discursive phenomenon. In addition, participants will learn to use creative-writing techniques as a form of artistic research and as an element of their methodologies.

More information here.


Generalizations, Hypotheses, Evidence in Literary Studies 

Online PhD workshop | Friday 23 October 2020, 16:00-17:30 (CEST time) | Organizer: Roel Smeets (Radboud); Keynote: Prof. Andrew Piper (McGill University) | 1-2 EC

How do we move from particular examples to more general statements about the literary world? This is what I will be calling the practice of generalization, and it effects all knowledge domains. While other fields have long grappled with this problem, literary studies has yet to engage in sustained discussion surrounding the principles and procedures through which we produce generalized knowledge about the world. The rise of computational and quantitative forms of evidence have made this issue particularly relevant today, especially for a field that has traditionally relied on anecdotal or exemplary forms of evidence. This workshop will initiate a discussion about the place of generalization within literary studies, problems attending its current practice, issues introduced by data and quantification, and possible future pathways surrounding more open forms of evidence and argumentation.

More information here.


Women and Transnational Modernisms

Workshop | Organizers: Dr. Camilla Sutherland (Groningen), Dr. Kathryn Roberts (Groningen) and Dr. Ruth Clemens (Utrecht) | 1-2 EC

NB: This event was designed to take place on-site. Due to the current circumstances, the organizers have decided to postpone it to 2021-2022. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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 participants – in these sessions we will share and receive feedback on our current research. Day Two: Morning discussion seminar responding to a selection of recent articles published in the field of gender and transnational modernism; Afternoon collaborative writing/brainstorming session setting down our thoughts on new directions for the field and possible future co-authored publications and projects.


Literature and the Social

Online PhD workshop | 4 December 2020 | Organizer: Jesse van Amelsvoort (Groningen); Keynote: Prof. David Alworth (Harvard) | 1-2 EC

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.

More information here.


Technology and the Uncanny: (New) Formalist Perspectives

OSL/RMeS online masterclass | October – November 2020, one day (date to be confirmed) | Organizer: Prof. Dr. Annie van den Oever (Groningen); Keynote: Prof. Tom Gunning (University of Chicago) | 1-2 EC

More details will follow soon.


Schrijfcursus voor geesteswetenschappers: Framen, schrappen en herschrijven

Skills course | January 2021, Utrecht, four sessions (schedule to be confirmed) | Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Geert Buelens (Utrecht) | 3 EC

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.

More information here.


Ravenstein Seminar: Literature, Language and Belonging

20-22 January 2021, Utrecht (the event will move online if necessary) | Organizers: Jesse van Amelsvoort (Groningen), Dr. Birgit Kaiser (Utrecht), Dr. Aukje van Rooden (UvA), Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (UvA/Groningen) | 5-6 EC, or 2 EC for attendance only

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.

More information available here.



Semester 2 (February – July 2021)


Islam and World Literature

OSL/NISIS workshop | 12 February 2021, Amsterdam, 12:30 – 19:00 (the event will move online if necessary) | 1-2 ECs

More details will follow soon.


Book Presentation: Christel N. Temple, Black Cultural Mythology

Online event | 19 February 2021, 16:00-17:30 | 1 EC

Christel N. Temple is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her latest book, Black Cultural Mythology (SUNY, 2020), provides a highly innovative conceptual framework for exploring the complex relations between cultural memory, heroic narratives, activism and creative production within and beyond the African diaspora.

The event will start with a lecture by Dr. Temple, followed by a response by Ann Rigney (Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Utrecht; Principal Investigator of the Remembering Activism project) and by an open Q&A.

Please click here for more information.


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

Workshop | 4-5 March 2021, Leiden (will move online if necessary) | Organizers: Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi (Leiden/UvA), Dr. Liesbeth Minnaard (UvA) and Dr. Janna Houwen (Leiden) | 1-2 EC

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.

More information here.


Contemporary Debates in Life Writing

Amsterdam | March – April 2021, five sessions | Coordinator: Dr. Marleen Rensen (UvA) | 5 EC

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 information here.


Computational Literary Studies

Amsterdam | April – May 2021, five sessions | 3-6 ECs

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.

More information here.


How Not to Write a Novel

Workshop | 21 May 2021, Amsterdam, Eye Filmmuseum | Organizer: Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia (Groningen); Invited author: Jesús Carrasco | 1-2 EC

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.

More information here.


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

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.

More information here.



June 2021 (date to be confirmed) | More details will follow soon


Hermes Summer School ‘Space, Affect, Memory: Performances and Representations’

June 2021, Santiago de Compostela (to be confirmed)

The Hermes network is currently working on rescheduling last year’s edition of the summer school, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More details on the 2021 programme will follow soon.


The Institute for World Literature (Harvard) – Summer Program

July 2021, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz

The exact dates and programme will be announced soon. More information on OSL’s membership of the Institute for World Literature can be found here.


Research Lab in Literary Studies and Digital Humanities

Summer school | July 2021, Leiden (dates to be confirmed)| Organizer: Dr. Carmen van den Bergh (Leiden)

More details will follow soon.