OSL Awards 2021: Congratulations to the Winners!

22 December 2021

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 OSL Awards:

ReMA Thesis: Marit van de Warenburg (first prize) and Wouter Woltering (runner-up)

PhD Thesis: Kila van der Starre (first prize) and Roel Smeets (runner-up)

Peer-reviewed article: Carlijn Cober

Valorization and public outreach: Kila van der Starre

Our warmest congratulations to the winners, and to all those who submitted their work — the general quality of this year’s entries was extremely high!

Please find more details below, with excerpts from the jury’s motivation:


ReMA Thesis


Marit van de Warenburg, ‘Songs That Stick: Songs of Protest and Their Cultural Afterlives’, Utrecht University

  • Van de Warenburg’s thesis explores the specific role that music plays in the relationship between cultural memory and activism, and—quite ambitiously—it aims at “provid[ing] a new conceptual model for addressing the intersection between memory, music and activism” (8). Analyzing a corpus of four songs—two of American, one of French, and one of Italian origin—and a selection of contemporaneous and later (national and/or international) re-uses of these songs, she demonstrates that the selected songs and their afterlives share important characteristics. She shows how the formal qualities of these protest songs and the (multidimensional) memory processes that they set in motion create a sense of community and how it is that these songs can have the mobilizing power that they so evidently do.
  • The thesis is presented in a very professional and pleasing to look at manner (cover and lay-out). It consists of four chapters in which the author analyses four songs (North American and European cases) according to the method of analysis discussed — combining historiography and close reading in a convincing and insightful manner. It is impressive how Van de Warenburg creates her own analytical framework by combining the two dimensions from memory studies and musicology. The contribution of this thesis is evident in the author’s finding that although protest songs may come from various traditions, the factors that lead to their re-use are rather similar. This insight contributes to understanding the use and specifically the phenomenon of and reasons for the re-use of protest songs in social activism.


Wouter Woltering, ‘Intervening Bodies: Disability, Queerness, and Crip Theory in Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill, Mrs. Dalloway, and Orlando’, Leiden University

  • The thesis avoids simple interpretation/reductionism in the analysis, showing how complex it is to read Woolf’s work through the lens of disability and ‘crip theory’. Woutering’s analysis is very well written, and achieves a good balance between close-reading and contextualization.
  • The thesis conducts an insightful close-reading of three texts by Virginia Woolf, supported with a broad range of secondary literature in order to present a crip reading of Woolf’s work. This allows the author to conclude that Virginia Woolf – despite her own problematic statements concerning illness and physical and other disability – may be considered a “nascent crip theorist” (8). Such an interpretation enables the work of a key figure of modernist writing to be read and understood as contributing to new and more inclusive ways to think about disability and impairment.
  • The contribution of this ReMA thesis is most evident as a suggestion/example of how “cripping modernist literature” may be achieved (i.e. challenge able-normative ideas and practices regarding impairment, eugenics and degeneration). The student also showed his awareness of and ability to handle a diversity of (at times conflicting) positions within the field of Woolf scholarship.


PhD Thesis


Kila van der Starre, Poëzie buiten het boek. De circulatie en het gebruik van poëzie, Utrecht University

  • This is a socially significant research topic that takes the function of poetry beyond book publications and highbrow academia, examining how people today (and in the past) experience(d) poetry, revalued it and reused it. Relevant works have been included in the theoretical scope. The quantitative research that has been conducted is exciting, and the ways in which issues of memory and heritage are brought into the analyses are refined.
  • The thesis is one of these studies that change a field in terms of orientation. Instead of considering the Dutch poetry landscape as a marginal literary field in which the happy few meet one another on small-scale festivals, Van der Starre convincingly shows that poetry is everywhere.
  • The thesis surprises and is innovative in disclosing areas where one would not expect poetry to be dealt with seriously, as when tattoos are a topic of interest when dealing with poetry. But the thesis is also innovative methodologically, as when Instagram poetry is studied extensively (not just on the basis of individual cases), or when the focus on how real readers deal with poetry is worked out systematically.
Roel Smeets, Character Constellations: Representations of Social Groups in Present-Day Dutch Literary Fiction, Radboud University
  • This dissertation explores the very intriguing intersections of narratology and data set analysis. Its cutting-edge combination of qualitative and quantitative research sheds new light on community formation and conflict in recent Dutch novels.
  • The thesis presents an original combination of narratology and digital humanities, managing to synthesize a broad range of perspectives while maintaining a clear focus. Despite being locally grounded in Dutch literature, it is written in a way that can also appeal to an international audience.

Peer-reviewed article

Carlijn Cober, ‘My Landskap is myne verhard: A Topopoetics of Displacement in Ingrid Jonker’s Ontvlugting (1956) and Ek dryf in die wind (1966)‘, Imbizo: Journal of African Literary and Comparative Studies, 2018
  • Cober’s article presents a skilfully executed scholarly argument: she explores whether it is possible to present a novel reading of a canonised poet’s work (Ingrid Jonker) by introducing a topographic approach (the theoretical foundations lucidly explained in the theoretical section), and operationalising this approach in order to make it useful for a critical close-reading of the selected poems.
  • In her article, Carlijn Cober presents a careful close reading of two poems by South African poet Ingrid Jonker. Cober’s theoretically informed and meticulous close readings of the aforementioned poems lead her to conclude that Jonker’s play with the genre of the topographical poem is tied up with the motif of displacement, arguably a meaningful motif not only in the analyzed poems, but in Jonker’s oeuvre at large. Cober’s interpretation of the two poems effectuates a richer reading than the reductionist biographical readings that are prevalent in the reception of Jonker; and in this way, her article forms a valuable contribution to Jonker scholarship and reception.




Kila van der Starre, website https://straatpoezie.nl/

  • With her website and activities, Van der Starre managed to reach a national or transnational audience (if we include Flanders), with almost the full scope of media involved, including some really prominent ones, in an ongoing, interactive process between users who became participants. With her work, and impact, van der Starre has managed to change the poetry landscape of the Netherlands; not a small feat.
  • Van der Starre’s project is enormously simple and effective, based on citizen science (activity / participation) and crowd funding. Very well done that more than 200.000 viewers visited the site.
  • This project takes a clear and strong position in relation to literature education, explaining the worth and value of including alternative formats of literature in the literature education classroom as a means to create enthusiasm and interest in further literary reading. The impact of the research conducted for this argument in a non-academic context is evident. Following the discussions on the state of literature education in the Netherlands at the moment, it is clear that a more inclusive, less conservative approach to literature education is very much needed: one that takes seriously the importance of literature and reading (literature) as steps towards developing critical thinking skills and literacy.


We are very thankful to this year’s jury, which consisted of OSL Board members Marguérite Corporaal, Ann Rigney, Frans Willem Korsten, Margriet van der Waal, Ted Laros and Miriam Meissner.

5 replies

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] De OSL Awards 2021: ‘Best PhD Thesis’ en ‘Best Valorization’ (lees hier meer). […]

  2. […] 2021: Marit van de Warenburg and Wouter Woltering (ReMA thesis); Kila van der Starre and Roel Smeet… […]

  3. […] De OSL Awards 2021: ‘Best PhD Thesis’ en ‘Best Valorization’ (lees hier meer). […]

  4. […] 2021 kreeg ik twee prijzen toegekend in de OSL Awards: ‘Best PhD Thesis’ en ‘Best Valorization’. Lees hier […]

  5. […] am absolutely thrilled!  Over Christmas I heard I won two out of five categories in the OSL Awards, the awards our international (for the global Dutch speaking area) research school for Literary […]

Comments are closed.