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

Savage Embraces: James Purdy, Melodrama, and the Narration of Identity

In Savage Embraces: James Purdy, Melodrama, and the Narration of Identity, Looi van Kessel explores the ways in which the early works of the American author James Purdy undermine the notion of a stable and true identity. Writing in the 1950s and 60s, a time in which identity politics enjoyed increased purchase in the United States, Purdy imagines characters who feel the urge to act out their sexual desires without having to conform to oppressive identity categories. In so doing, Purdy is searching for a language that shows how identity is produced through narration. To tease out this language, Looi approaches Purdy’s writing through the mode of melodrama—a mode that focuses on the aesthetic dramatization of tensions in the plot—while also bringing his work in conversation with current queer thinking. Ultimately, this dissertation attempts to bring the disparate fields of narrative theory and queer theory in a meaningful relation with one another.

Public defense. Please confirm your attendance for the defense and the reception by sending an email to by 20 November.

Transformations of Trauma in the Age of Climate Change

WORKSHOP with Stef Craps (Ghent University)

Friday 22nd November, 1-4 pm.

Location: Roeterseiland E gebouw E0.22

The increasing visibility of climate change and scientists’ alarming warnings about it are taking a toll on people’s mental well-being. This lecture surveys the culturally resonant repertoire of new coinages that have emerged in recent years to name and communicate environmentally induced distress. It pays particular attention to the concept of pre-traumatic stress disorder, which has become the focus of a small but important body of humanistic scholarship calling for an expanded trauma theory that would be future- as well as past-oriented. Noting trauma theory’s persistent human-centredness, the lecture goes on to consider attempts that are being made to reconceptualize trauma in non-anthropocentric terms and to acknowledge the interconnectedness and entanglement of human and non-human traumas. It ends by predicting that cultural trauma research, which has so far shown relatively little interest in environmental issues in general and climate change in particular, will engage more fully with our dire environmental predicament in the years ahead.

Stef Craps is a professor of English literature at Ghent University, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture, memory and trauma studies, postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism and environmental humanities. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (Sussex Academic Press, 2005), and a co-editor of Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (Berghahn, 2017). He has also co-edited two special issues of Studies in the Novel, on climate change fiction and postcolonial trauma novels, and one of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, on transcultural Holocaust memory. He has recently co-authored an introductory guide to the concept of trauma, which is forthcoming in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series, and is currently guest-editing a special issue of American Imago on ecological grief.

In preparation for the workshop students read three academic chapters/articles (see reading list below); they formulate a question for Stef Craps (around 200 words), which they print and bring to the workshop.

Participation in the workshops earns RMA students 1 EC. Register by sending a mail to Please mention your affiliation.

Reading list:

  • Craps, Stef. “Climate Change and the Art of Anticipatory Memory.” Parallax 23:4 (2017): 479-492.
  • Cunsolo, Ashlee & Karen Landman, eds. Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017. Introduction.
  • Saint-Amour, Paul. “Waiting for the Bomb to Drop.” The New York Times, 3 August 2015.

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020)

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020): “Expanded Practices of Knowing: Interdisciplinary Approaches”

Technological developments inform the ways information travels through media, turn archives into ‘dynarchives,’ and set knowledge cultures in motion. Such developments foreground the performativity of practices of sharing knowledge and the materiality of mediation; moreover, they point to the sensory, movement and embodiment as important aspects to take into account. This year’s seminar will investigate the potential of radical interdisciplinary collaborations between media and performance studies, science and the arts for understanding and developing ways of sharing information,  knowledge and expertise.  What can interdisciplinary collaboration bring to understanding the role of old and new technologies in these processes? How is interdisciplinary collaboration itself technological or at least a technique? How can it foster the development of new insights, technologies and practices?

TiM Seminar Programme (2019-2020)

*Session organized with the support of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Utrecht University.

The Transmission in Motion Seminar is a more-or-less monthly gathering of researchers and students from across disciplines. To participate, please send an email to to receive additional information and readings. RMA Students can acquire 3 EC if they attend all meetings and write blog posts after each meeting. Please register at For more information, contact Maaike Bleeker at m.a.bleeker[a]

Image credits: ”Sense of Motion” by Mr. Nixter is licensed under CC BY 2.0