Nanna Bonde Thylstrup: Mass Digitization

Shadow Libraries: The Politics of Mass Digitization

Mass digitization of cultural memory artifacts has attained the status of a cultural and moral imperative and obligation. Today, anyone with an internet connection can access hundreds of millions of digitized cultural artifacts from the comfort of their desk, and cultural institutions and private bodies add thousands of new cultural works to the digital sphere every day. Mass digitization thus promises entirely new ways of reading, viewing, and structuring archives, new models of cultural value and its extraction, and new infrastructures of control. Yet, mass digitization also profoundly unsettles existing legal frameworks on digitization resulting among other things in groundbreaking new legislative measures such as the Google Books Settlement. In this talk media scholar Nanna Bonde Thylstrup (University of Copenhagen) will discuss the politics of mass digitization, focusing in particular on its legal, cultural and ethical implications drawing on analyses of Google Books, Europeana and the emerging phenomenon of “shadow libraries”, that is, platforms that amass illegal text collections in the name of open access.

Nanna Bonde Thylstrup is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Currently she is working on two major research projects on the cultural and ethical implications of digitization: Uncertain Archives, focusing on big data (as) archives, and The Past’s Future addressing the changing role of cultural memory institutions in the digital age.

March 22, 17:00-18:30
Leiden University, LIPSIUS 1.48
More info

The Aesthetic Turn in Post-Colonial Studies

19th meeting of the Platform for Post-Colonial Readings on 10 March 2017,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Campus Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, Brussels, Room D.3.09

Since the turn of 21st century, critics have been debating and/or calling for an aesthetic turn in postcolonial studies. Having once revolutionized scholarly practice by instigating the revision of the exclusively ‘white’ canon, the field increasingly has come under scrutiny for treating post-colonial works of art primarily as socio-political documents that inform especially metropolitan audiences in the West about ‘Third World’ and ‘minority’ experiences. In the new millennium, scholars are no longer presuming representation in postcolonial art to be unproblematized by its mediation. They challenge postcolonial criticism’s “obsession with a somewhat vulgar mode of representation” (Bahri 2003: 11) and point to the lack of a sufficiently developed critical framework for addressing the aesthetic dimension of postcolonial art. Nevertheless, they have remained reluctant to suggest ‘a new post-colonial aesthetics’, i.e. a manner of artistic expression that would reflect a specifically post-colonial cultural politics or condition.

In our discussion of this debate, we wish to consider its possible influences on our scholarly practice today: Can we speak of a typically post-colonial aesthetics? If so, what would be its hallmarks? Are there ways to ‘provincialize’ Western aesthetic theory? How do aesthetic considerations contest and/or mediate the socio-political function of post-colonial texts? Can such a focus help to diversify our scholarly practice and enable us to tend to artistic expressions in the field that do not primarily address post-colonial ‘issues’? What could be the possible merits and limitations of a postcolonial aesthetic (to-be)?

The emerging aesthetic turn in post-colonial studies and the challenges this debate presents to post-colonial theorising and to concrete analyses of post-colonial artistic expression will be addressed by the Platform for Post-Colonial Readings, which invites in particular junior researchers to participate in a meeting that will consist of:

  • an introductory lecture by Prof. dr. Sandra Heinen (University of Wuppertal), an expert in intercultural and transmedial narrative research and (Anglophone) post-colonial fiction;
  • a collective close reading and discussion of some recent reflections on the increasing interest in aesthetics in post-colonial studies;
  •  junior scholars presenting their own research in the light of the day’s topic, followed by debate;
  • a joint on-the-spot-analysis of an Indian graphic novel in English.

A reader will be distributed in preparation of the meeting, which is open to all researchers, Research Master and PhD students working in the field of post-colonial studies. Please register with Dr. Eloe Kingma of NICA (, stating your name and programme and affiliation. If you want to participate in the meeting (and present your research project in the light of its topic), please contact Prof. Dr. Janine Hauthal ( or Prof. dr. Elisabeth Bekers ( by 1 March 2017. Active participation by Research Master students may be credited with 1 or 3 EC (without/with presentation).

Platform organizers: Elisabeth Bekers (VUB), Sarah De Mul (OU), Isabel Hoving (UL), Liesbeth Minnaard (UL); guest organizer: Janine Hauthal (VUB-FWO Vlaanderen).

Herschel Farbman: Sports and Corporate Capitalism

We would like to invite you to the upcoming MAP lecture, during which Herschel Farbman is going to talk about “Solar Onus: Notes Toward a Theory of the Discourse of Sports.” The lecture will take place on Wednesday February 22, 17:00-18:30, LIPSIUS 1.48, Leiden University.

About the Talk
Talk about professional sports is essential to them. Chatter about the game, carried out across every medium of communication, wraps it in the form of a “product,” itself a key term of sportstalk (fans will often bemoan the low quality of “the product on the field”). Take away the wrapping, and there is no pro game. In this non-athletic but essential part of the action, the fan has his or her accursed share—“accursed” because the fan as such is eternally banned from the very field that his or her talk stakes out and glorifies.

Following closely the deployment in the discourse of some key terms, metaphors, and turns of phrase — e.g., a peculiar and peculiarly frequent use of the word “onus”— critical theorist Herschel Farbman (UC Irvine) elaborates a critical commentary on the process by which the sportstalking fan, often troped ironically as player, figuratively extends the physical game far beyond the highly restricted limits of the field of play proper, forging, in the process, the lingua franca of advanced corporate capitalism.

About the Speaker
Herschel Farbman is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of The Other Night: Dreaming, Writing, and Restlessness in Twentieth-Century Literature (Fordham University Press, 2008; 2012 in paperback), along with a number of articles, both on literature and on “live” media such as streaming video and sportstalk radio.

Warm regards,
Pepita, Yasco, Tingting

Wildness without Wilderness

The Poiesis of Energy and Instability

The Environmental Humanities in the Benelux at the EASLCE/BASCE 7th Biennial Conference in Brussels, 27 to 30 October 2016

While it is not (yet) possible to identify a specific national or regional environmental humanities approach, or a shared research agenda, we can discern some shared fields of interest. The Benelux have always been invested in transnational, postcolonial approaches in the humanities on the one  hand, and in post-humanism, new materialism, and bio-art on the other. Adding to this, there is an  increasing interest in (artistic) practice as a form of thinking and doing research that allows for  fruitful ‘contamination’ between these domains. Two panels discuss the insights produced by predominantly young and upcoming scholars and writers in these fields.

This panel series has been realized with the kind support of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis (NICA).

Panel I | Wild Matter and Waste: Thinking Pollution through the Arts. Thursday, 27 October 2016, 13.30-15.30

Chair: Isabel Hoving (Leiden University)

  • Anoesjka Minnaard (Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands): “The Complicity Paradox”;
  • Agnieska Anna Wolodzko, (Leiden University): “Waste Multiplicity – On Microbiopolitics Of Our Guts”;
  • Sonja van der Arend, (no affiliation) – title: T.B.A.
  • Anna Volkmar (Leiden University): “The Trouble with Nuclear Wilderness: Ecopoietic Reworkings of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Landscape Photography”;
  • Ruby de Vos, (UvA): “Writing Through the Body: The Permeability of The Environmental Illness Memoir”.

Panel II | The Transnational View: Narrating Postcolonial Environments. Saturday, 29 October 2016, 16.30-18.30

Chair: Ben de Bruyn (Maastricht University)

  • Sarah Buekens (University of Gent): “J-M. G. Le Clézio: une trajectoire écologique du chaos urbain à l’harmonie naturelle”;
  • Eline Tabak (Utrecht University): “‘Bent and Blind in the Wilderness’: Ecological Narrative and the Poetics of Space in N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn and The Way to Rainy Mountain”;
  • Kristine Steenbergh (VU): “‘My New-Found Land’: Poetry, Colonialism and the Anthropocene in Winterson’s The Stone Gods”;
  • Susanne Ferwerda (Utrecht University): “Layers of Stone, Layers of Stories: Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods and the Wildness of Multiple Stories for the Anthropocene”.


Cultural Studies Then and Now


Cultural Studies and Cultural Analysis are no longer the young and rebellious upstarts they used to be. They have become canonised and institutionalised fields at a time in which the (critical, hermeneutic, theoretical) Humanities are under attack. At the same time, the political promises of the field — e.g. the emancipatory claims associated with identity politics and popular culture — seem no longer warranted, or at least demand new forms of confrontation and engagement. All this suggests it is now all the more urgent to ask ourselves anew how we want to inhabit or relate to the field. How do we wish to situate ourselves in, or perhaps vis-à-vis, Cultural Studies academically, institutionally, intellectually, and politically? In this course, we will revisit the main genealogies and methodologies of Cultural Studies in relation to current developments, exploring the following five areas of contestation: conjuncture, politics, reality, interdisciplinarity, culture. How did Cultural Studies start out? What can it now be? With key readings by Stuart Hall, Mieke Bal, Paul Smith, Lawrence Grossberg, and many others.

Dates: Thursdays November 3, 10, 17, 24, December 1 and 8.
Time: 15:00-17:00
Place: Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, building and room(s) see below

NOV 3 – OMHP A1.18C
NOV 10 – OMHP A1.18C
NOV 17 – OMHP A1.18C
NOV 24 – OMH D1.18B
DEC 1 – PCH 3.01
DEC 8 – PCH 3.01
DEC 15 – PCH 3.01
FEB 24 – PCH 4.22

OMHP: Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, Amsterdam
PCH: PC Hoofthuis, Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam