Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis
NICA is the Dutch national research school dedicated to the academic study of contemporary culture from an interdisciplinary, theoretical, and critical perspective. The school offers graduate courses for research master and PhD students, and serves as a professional network for affiliated scholars. Presently based at the Leiden University, the school welcomes the participation of scholars and students of all Dutch universities.
NICA is the Dutch national research school dedicated to cultural analysis, i.e. the academic study of contemporary culture from a broad Humanities perspective.
The scholars and students participating in NICA come from a variety of disciplines in the Humanities, such as Comparative Literature, Film Studies, Theatre Studies, Modern Languages, Philosophy, and others.
Additionally, the school brings together scholars, MPhil and PhD students from eight universities in the Netherlands: the Universities of Amsterdam (both University of Amsterdam and Free University Amsterdam), Leiden, Utrecht, Nijmegen, Maastricht, Groningen, and Rotterdam.
Nine two-year research master programmes are affiliated to the school. Some eighty staff members, 24 internal (funded) and 52 external PhD students, as well as current 77 MPhil (or research master) students (classes of 2011 and 2012), all work together in NICA.
The school’s research profile may be described as:
(1) hermeneutic in its broadest sense, that is, centred on the description, analysis, interpretation of, and reflection on, diverse cultural artefacts and phenomena, e.g. novels, web sites, paintings, exhibition, films, poems, demonstrations, performances, and opera’s;
(2) interdisciplinary, because the products of current and on-going cultural developments resist enclosure within established disciplines—although, of course, the expertise and archives of the traditional Humanities disciplines remain indispensible;
(3) theoretical in that it opens up the study of culture to conceptual and philosophical questions;
(4) and focused on contemporary culture—including the ways in which cultures shape a relation to the past, an approach that commonly goes under the heading of “cultural memory.”
Hosted at Leiden University, NICA facilitates a true intellectual community, fostering a high level of interaction between graduate students and staff members from different departments and universities, between PhD and MPhil students, as well as between graduate students and research staff.
The school favours a light and “bottom-up” organizational structure, designed to facilitate emerging interests and priorities; our activities are as likely to be initiated by students as by staff members.
The school’s yearly curriculum comprises a series of seminars, courses, masterclasses, a Summer School, workshops, reading groups, and lectures. Introducing students to a wide range of scholars, issues, objects, and approaches, NICA enables and encourages its students to develop their own research interests and formulate their own research projects.
- Isabel Awad, associate professor of Media and Communication (Erasmus University)
- Maaike Bleeker, professor of Theatre Studies (Utrecht University)
- Joost de Bloois, assistant professor of Cultural Analysis and Comparative Literature (University of Amsterdam)
- Erin La Cour, assistant professor of English Literature and Visual Culture (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
- Hanneke Grootenboer, professor of Art History (Early Modern Art and Visual Culture) (Radboud University)
- Yasco Horsman, assistant professor of Film and Literary Studies (Leiden University)
- Esther Peeren, professor of Cultural Analysis (University of Amsterdam)
- Kathryn Roberts, assistant professor of American Studies (University of Groningen)
- Eliza Steinbock, associate professor in Gender and Diversity Studies (Maastricht University)
- Inge van de Ven, assistant professor of Online Culture (Tilburg University)
- Ruby de Vos, PhD-Candidate in Literary Criticism and Theory and Cultural Analysis (University of Groningen)
NICA proudly hosts the following platforms:
The Platform for Postcolonial Readings organizes seminars for all (junior) researchers in the Netherlands and Belgium who are committed to issues of postcoloniality and globalization. As an open network, platform for debate, and reading group, our meetings are open to all. Organizers: Elisabeth Bekers (VUB), Sarah De Mul (KUL), Isabel Hoving (UL), Liesbeth Minnaard (UL).
The Benelux Association for the Study of Art, Culture, and the Environment (BASCE), initiated by Isabel Hoving (I.Hoving@hum.leidenuniv.nl). Ecocriticism is a booming field. It emerged in the United States as a self-conscious theoretical approach in the early nineties, building on the modern environmental thought that responded to a growing sense of environmental crisis in the 1960s and 1970s. Primarily developing as a new approach to literary writing, ecocriticism has now expanded into a broad, interdisciplinary field that relates to topics as widely diverse as interspecies justice, the role of grief and mourning in theories of the environment, the relation between queerness and veganism, and bio-art. As the enthusiasm for ecocriticism grows in the Benelux, the need for dialogue and collaboration grows too. Many of us might benefit from an interdisciplinary tri-national platform upon which all those who are interested in ecocriticism can be informed about the latest national and international developments, as well as exchange ideas and plans for research projects. Such a platform could help shape the emerging field, which would have a stimulating effect on cultural analysis on the whole, as it problematizes and elaborates some of the key notions in that field too.