Cancelled-Big Books / Big Data Size and Scale in Literature, Digital Media and Architecture

Big Books / Big Data

Size and Scale in Literature, Digital Media and Architecture

University of Amsterdam, 16-06-’20, 16.00

Influenced by digitalization and the rise of big data, we see increasing attention to the topic of size and scale in culture, media, and literature, but also as topics of investigation in the humanities and social sciences at large. Such issues are particularly timely in an era in which processes of digitalization and globalization converge and intersect, and during which the scale on which we consider aesthetic, ethical, and political relations is expanding. This seminar brings together scholars from different disciplines to discuss the role of size, scale, monumentality, or gigantism in relation to books and literature, other media, and architecture, in the light of digitalizatiton and datafication.

Henriette Steiner, associate professor Landscape Architecture and Planning, and Kristin Veel, associate professor in the department of Arts and Cultural Studies, both from the University of Copenhagen, will talk about their book A Tower to Tower: Gigantism in Architecture and Digital Culture (MIT Press, 2020). In this work, they map and critique the trajectory of gigantism in architecture and digital culture―the convergence of tall buildings and networked infrastructures―from the Eiffel Tower to One World Trade Center.

Inge van de Ven, assistant professor Culture Studies at Tilburg University, will present on her book Big Books in Times of Big Data (Leiden U.P. 2019), which examines recent trends of size and scale in the novel in terms of the shift from the bound book to the newer materialities of the digital, in works by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, and Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann.

Kiene Brillenburg Wuth, full professor of Literature and Media and Utrecht University, will present on the sublime and the materiality of literature in a digital age.

Registration: please send an email to and do not forget to mention your affiliation.

For RMA and PhD-students, there is the possibility to obtain 2 ECTS for attending the event, reading a selection from Inge van de Ven’s Big Books in Times of Big Data, and writing a short (1000-2000 word) essay on the basis of this. The best essays will be published on Diggit Magazine. For more information and access to the text, contact Inge at

This event is sponsored by NICA and OSL.

Political Ecologies Workshop

Next Event: November 22, 11-1pm (PCH 7.02): Reading Group on Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies 

Joost de Bloois:

Jeff Diamanti:

This year’s New Political Ecologies Workshop explores emergent practices in the humanities and social sciences that help refigure disciplinary boundaries amidst social and environmental precarity. Political ecology names the interconnectivity of the materials, political forces, and economic forms that animate embodied relations to the earth. Those relations are co-constituted in a recursive fashion. The study of economy, ecology, or politics in isolation becomes a reactionary impediment to any effort to overcome the dominant condition of the present, marked as it is by asymmetrical exposures to capitalism’s exertion of extractive and exhausting violence over the bodies, climates, and energies of the planet. New political ecologies are emerging across the disciplines, cultural spheres, and social movements that help bring the nature of those violence into relief. These include new work on care (Bellacasa 2017), energy and transportation infrastructures (Anend et al., 2018), degrowth (D’Alisa 2014), geopower (Povinelli 2016; Yusoff 2018), petroculture (Szeman 2019), post-sustainability (Stoekl 2007/2019), waste (Boetzkes 2019), and toxic bios (Lengo and Armiero 2017).

This year’s workshop is committed to exploring these new conceptual, artistic, and critical orientations and to putting into practice a form of creative and collaborative research necessary for new forms of knowledge production in warming and exhausted world. The structure of the workshop will include a variety of public talks, reading groups, and collaborative research projects that help bridge the gap between social, physical, and economic ecologies. What is the political ecology of infrastructure space, non-institutional media outlets, unregulated labour markets, and the biomes pulled into the swell of rising seas and heated atmospheres? Who to turn to in order to begin thinking through such new ecologies? How do existing and new artistic practices help create encounters with these entangled environments, and what are the critical traditions most relevant for supporting and elaborating those encounters (from Guattari’s ‘three ecologies’ to Bataille’s ‘general economy’, from autonomism to biopolitics)? And what kinds of conceptual attachments aid us in building out an immersive political ecology not saturated by precarity?

We propose the following activities, as part of the continued workshop ‘New Political Ecologies’. The 2019-2020 workshop can be seen as an ecology of sorts: a series of related and interconnected activities that allow participants to address the questions raised above. The study group ‘New Political Ecologies’ will provide theoretical consistency and continuity, by means of a conceptual milieu for the proposed activities.

Email organizers for more information or to enrol in the workshop for ECs.

Upcoming Events: 

  • November 22, 11-1pm (PCH 7.02): Reading group on Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies
  • November 28/29 (co-sponsored with the Sandberg Institute): Masterclass and Public Lecture by Dr. Oxana Timofeeva
  • February (date TBD): Masterclass and Public Lecture by Dr. Cymene Howe on Ecologics 
  • March (date TBD): Masterclass and Public lecture by Dr. Andreas Malm on the political ecology of fossil fuels
  • April (date TBD): seminar with dr. Marlon Miguel (ICI Berlin) on the work of Fernand Deligny
  • May (date TBD): seminar with dr. Erik Bordeleau (Montreal/ICI Berlin) on communism and cryptocurrencies

On Painting

The second meeting of the Artistic Research Research Group will take place on Friday December 6, 2019 from 14:00-16:30 at Vox-Pop Creative Space for the Humanities (Binnengasthuisstraat 9). During this meeting, we will be participating in a reading group lead by On Painting, a reading group engaging with literature surrounding the practice of painting. *Please note that this session is not a presentation but rather a reading group and your familiarity with the text is essential for participation.*  Contact: Emilija Angelovska <>

ON PAINTING is a reading group engaging with literature on -and surrounding- painting: theory, philosophy, history texts relevant to painting, both in relation to its tradition, and in relation to the post-medium condition. Given this expanded view, the reading group is as much about painting as it is about the art discourse in general.
More, approaching the notion of ‘reading’ in a broadly way, our sessions can take the form of a walk in the dunes, a cooking event and more.
In the context of ARRG we will focus on the text Masters and Servants or Lovers – On Love as a Way to Not Recognize the Other, by Jan Verwoert (text in attachment). In this text Verwoert traces a genealogy of love through Hegel, Lacan, Agamben, Heidegger and Adorno; weaving the positions of these thinkers with references to cinema such as Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch and Zhang Yimou’s House of the Flying Daggers, songs such as Bonnie Taylor’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, and more. The ARRG session will be a build-up on Verwoert’s coupling of philosophy with imagery. We invite all the participants to select the passages of the text that speak to them the most. During our session we will use these fragments of text to think through imagery (images, youtube videos, quotes, etc.), exploring our personal associations that may surface while reading this text. The idea is to respond to the text and to each other through images, while at the same time defining parallel visual readings to that of Verwoert. We will have access to a large screen, a computer with internet connection and a printer. Any questions please email
ON PAINTING was initiated by visual artist Isabel Cordeiro and Platform BK in 2016 and since then it has taken place in institutions such as Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland, the Atlas Initiative in Breda, Frank Mohr Institute in Groningen, Orchid and the Wasp in Amsterdam, among others.
The ARRG iteration is co-organized by Platform BK, Isabel Cordeiro, Bas van den Hurk, Jochem van Laarhoven and Andela Vidic.

Fourth Annual Symposium Unhinging the National Framework: Transnational Life Writing

Friday, 6 December, 2019 Atrium, Medical Faculty Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam | Van der Boechorststraat 7 1081 BT Amsterdam

09.30 – 10.00       Welcome with coffee and tea

10.00 – 11.00       Opening Keynote Address + discussion

Prof. dr. Sonja Boon, author of What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (2019), Department of Gender Studies, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada

Speculative Lives: Haunted Yearnings for Impossible Pasts

10.45 – 11.30       Dr. Esther Captain (KITLV) and Dr. Guno Jones (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Postcolonial Transnational (Family) Histories

11.30 – 12.00      Coffee break

12.00 – 12.30       Dr. Karin Willemse, Department of History, Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Re-membering Those Who Left: Abandoned Houses as Archives of (In)Tangible Nubian Heritage

12.30 – 13.00       Interview with Dr. Lizzy van Leeuwen, independent scholar, biographer

13.00 – 13.15       Discussion

13.15 – 14.00      Lunch

14.00 – 14.15       Research pitches Unhinging the National Framework

14.15 – 15.15       Keynote Address + discussion

Prof. dr. Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English, University of Oxford, England, biographer and author of fiction

Unhinging the National Framework through Curricular Change

15.15 – 15.45      Coffee break

15.45 – 16.30       Dik van der Meulen, biographer

King William III. A Boundless Royal

Dr. Monica Soeting, European Journal of Life Writing

Queen Emma, the Sweetest Grandmother of Europe

16.30 – 17.00       Interview with Dr. Frank Dragtenstein, historian and Surinamist

Artistic Research Amsterdam in Valencia

Artistic Research Amsterdam in Valencia

Students of the Master Artistic Research of the University of Amsterdam (2018-2019) bring their work and thoughts – with some work of their peers – to Valencia. The University of Amsterdam occupies a unique position in the Netherlands, It seeks to form a bridge between the arts and scholarly research. Jesse Brinkerhof; Ester Eva Damen in collaboration with Joris Berger; Sabrina Huth in collaboration with Ilana Reynolds; António Mesquita Cartaxo; Marjolijn Rijks in collaboration with; Charlotte Neel Ritto; Christine van Royen; Anouk Hoogendoorn; Sara-Lot van Uum.

ColorElefante | C/ Sevilla 26 bajo izquierdo 46006 | Valencia, Spain | telf. 686 795 077 | ! |
November 01 – 10, 2019 | Opening October 31, 8.30pm | Preview: October 29 – 31, 2019

Sponsored by Amsterdams Universiteitsfonds & NICA

Photo by Ester Eva Damen, 2019