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).

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