Public event with Niña Weijers, UCL Dutch Writer in Residence 2020 (Friday 20 Nov, 4pm)

Join us for a public event with this year’s Dutch Writer in Residence at SELCS, the celebrated author Niña Weijers! This event will take place at 4pm (UK time) on Friday 20 November 2020. You can join us by registering here!

Niña Weijers (Nijmegen, 1987) studied literary theory in Amsterdam and Dublin. She published short stories, essays and articles in various literary magazines, such as Das MagazinDe Gids and De Revisor. In 2010 she won the writing competition Write Now! She’s a regular contributor to the weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer, and an editor of De Gids.

Her debut novel The consequences (De consequenties) was published in May 2014. It won the Anton Wachter Prize 2014 for best first novel, the Opzij Prize, the Lucy B. & C.W. van der Hoogt Prize, and was shortlisted for the Libris Prize and the Gouden Boekenuil, the two most important Dutch and Flemish literary awards. So far, it sold over 25.000 copies. and has been translated into English/American (Doppelhouse Press), French (Actes Sud), German (Suhrkamp) and Czech (Kniha Zhlin).

Low Countries History Seminar, 2020/21 (IHR London, UK)

Seminar on Low Countries History, 2020/21 session

Convenors: Liesbeth Corens (Queen Mary), Anne Goldgar (Univ. Southern California), Ben Kaplan (UCL), Ulrich Tiedau (UCL), Joanna Woodall (Courtauld)

Meetings: Fridays at 5:30 pm.  Autumn-term meetings will be held virtually (online) via Zoom.  Attendance is open and free but registration is required via the IHR website; details about how to join the virtual event will be circulated via email to registered attendees 24 hours in advance.

Meetings in the spring and summer terms will be held, depending on circumstances, either virtually via Zoom or in hybrid form with both virtual and physical attendance possible. Our physical meeting place is Wolfson Room I in the basement of the Institute for Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.

If you are not on the Seminar’s mailing list but would like to be added to it, please email Ben Kaplan at

To register to attend one of the meetings listed below, please go to

Autumn Term

23 October      Michaël Green (Copenhagen), ‘Notions of Privacy in Egodocuments from Early Modern Amsterdam’

6 November    Wim Klooster (Clark University, Worcester, Mass.), ‘The Petition to Keep New Netherland: Amsterdam’s Merchants and the Fear of English Ascendancy’

20 November  Margaret Schotte (York University, Ontario), ‘Dutch Atlases and Nautical Manuals – Opening the Treasure Chests’

4 December     Hal Parker (St Louis), ‘Global Calvinism: Conversion and Commerce in the Dutch Empire, 1600–1800’

Spring Term

5 February       Brianne Dolce (IHR), ‘A Disputed Inheritance on the Franco-Belgian Border: Writing the Cultural History of Medieval Arras, 1792–1900’

19 February     Michael Depreter (Oxford), ‘The Counts of Flanders, the Towns, and England. Patterns of Diplomatic Competition and Complementarity in Times of Revolt (14th–16th centuries)’

5 March           Susanne Friedrich (Munich), `Economies of Knowledge. The Epistemic Cultures in the Dutch East India Company (1602–c. 1650)’

19 March         Ad Putter (Bristol), ‘The Dutch Hat Makers of Medieval                              London’

Summer Term

21 May                        Freya Sierhuis (York), ‘Staging Muslim-Jewish Encounters in the Amsterdamse Schouwburg’

4 June              Karwan Fatah-Black (Leiden), ‘The Changing Understanding of Colonial Slavery in Dutch National History and Identity’

Translation and Collaboration: UK Dutch Students Combine Forces to Translate Fikry El Azzouzi’s De Beloning

Rachel West

February 2020 marked the beginning of a collaborative translation project on an excerpt from Fikry El Azzouzi’s De Beloning. The project saw the coming together of three universities which are home to the last remaining Dutch language departments in the UK: The University of Sheffield, The University of Nottingham and the University College London. Three universities, twenty-one students and one book extract to translate from Dutch to English, the project aimed to promote cultural exports from Flanders while providing students an opportunity to gain real, hands-on experience in translation. Despite the unexpected curveball of the Coronavirus outbreak, a complete commitment to the task prevailed. Here’s how we got on!

Aan de slag – Getting going!

Fikry El Azzouzi, UCLDutch Writer in Residence 2020Phase one consisted of being split into groups that mixed students from the three universities, introducing ourselves to one another (virtually!) and then getting to grips with the source text – award-winning author and playwright Fikry El Azzouzi’s latest novel, De Beloning (The Reward in English). The coming-of-age story of Zakaria, a Flemish-Moroccan youngster who constantly fights to be seen as the former instead of the latter, De Beloning revolves around themes of loss, identity, family and society. With cultural tension between the Belgian setting and the main characters’ Moroccan roots and the witty satire that kicks life into the dialogue, this 2019 novel was a great challenge for us final year Dutch students. Many of us spent time working or studying in Flanders and the Netherlands last year developing both our linguistic and cultural knowledge, and this project posed an exciting combination of the two. So, full of anticipation, we wielded our book copies and began page turning.

Teamwork makes the translation work…

After reading De Beloning and then being assigned a section of the text to translate per group, each of us set to work on completing an individual translation. Standard translation practice applied, the ultimate aim being to preserve the precise meaning of the source text as much as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done. Cultural factors, the plot, the nature of the characters and their relationships with one another, as well as El Azzouzi’s lively writing style all had to be taken into account with every translated word, sentence and paragraph. Even punctuation mattered – would we add a comma there? Would this be better as two sentences instead of one? Every translation task involves a lot of difficult decision-making and so we were especially fortunate to have professional translators Jonathan Reeder and Alice Tetley-Paul on hand, who kindly offered advice and assistance as we began to work collaboratively within our teams. We discussed our initial translations and any striking differences between them, and gradually worked towards creating a combined team translation. Sentence by sentence, we battled to create the best collaborative effort possible by fending off the over-literal, the awkward, or the (luckily few) occasions where we had simply got it wrong. After much debate and deliberation, as well as the occasional “phone a friend”-style query to Alice or Jonathan, each group submitted a final translation of their section.

A world-wide webcam conference

VertaalprojectOn Wednesday 18th March, all of this hard work culminated in the form of a video conference with Fikry, Jonathan, Alice, all of us students and our lecturers. Covid-19 may have prevented us from assembling in Sheffield as planned, but it did not prevent us from discussing the project via webcam! Minor technical issues aside, the video conference proved highly productive as we began working through any queries that arose in each group’s section. Many of these were important to other groups too – a particular word choice made in one section might also need to be made in another. One of the main examples of this was the words “mama” and “papa” which appear frequently, especially at the beginning of the text, where young siblings converse in their family home. “Mum” and “dad” felt too stiff while “mummy” and “daddy” proved too juvenile – it felt like we were stuck between a rock and a hard place until Alice suggested actually keeping the words the same in the English translation. Although they perhaps seemed a bit hooty-tooty to our English ears, it was universally voted the best solution – the main reason being that it maintained the Belgian setting of the novel. We were keen not to “over Anglicise” the text where culture and national identity are notably crucial themes.

And thus the project progressed – from one mind, to five, to more like twenty-five, our team spirit grew and our translations improved. It was great to have the opportunity to exchange ideas and hear new perspectives, and we felt especially lucky to have the author there to approve our suggestions and offer alternatives. Each section therefore became a part of something bigger and ensuring consistency and continuity became a new priority in our work.

Final steps

The sections were then combined to form one entire excerpt in English – it’s really satisfying to see a final version that reflects all of our blood, sweat and tears (or all of the digging through dictionaries, head-scratching and web-searching). The last step was to recruit a small editorial team consisting of two of the students from the project, John Cairns (Sheffield) and Emily Green (Nottingham) who were then tasked with making any final changes with the help of Jonathan and Alice. And just like that, the project was complete!

Thank you to the Dutch Language Union and Flanders Literature for making the Dutch Translation Project possible. Thank you to our tutors, Christine Sas (UCL), Bram Mertens (Nottingham) and coordinator Henriette Louwerse (Sheffield). And of course a huge thank you to Fikry El Azzouzi, Alice Tetley-Paul and Jonathan Reeder. May this project continue for a long time, so that more students can benefit from real-world translation experience, great literature and wonderful community spirit.

NTU LogoFlanders Literature

Eerste Nederlandse online filmavond (met pre-film praatje en discussie achteraf), Dinsdag 5 mei om 7pm

Eerste Nederlandse online filmavond (met pre-film praatje en discussie achteraf) voor UCL studenten. Dinsdag 5 mei om 7pm: Antonia (Marleen Gorris, 1995)


Beste allemaal,
We hopen dat het goed gaat met jullie in deze tijden van zeer beperkte bewegingsruimte! Het derde trimester is, virtueel, weer begonnen en het Dutch Department nodigt je van harte uit voor onze eerste Nederlandse filmavond, gepland op dinsdagavond 5 mei om 7 pm.
Dit is het plan:
  • We komen samen op Team ‘Koffieuurtje’ op Microsoft Teams voor een ‘Pre-film’ praatje om 7 pm
  • We kijken allemaal naar de film ‘Antonia’ via de website van het UCL Language Centre: (je logt in met je UCL credentials)
  • Vervolgens praten we na en wisselen gedachten uit over de film, weer via Teams.
Hieronder vind je een synopsis van de film Antonia (‘Antonia’s line‘ in het Engels): Ons idee is om elke dinsdagavond gedurende het derde trimester een Nederlandse filmavond te houden.
Tot dan! Veel groeten,
Linda, Christine, Hans, Reinier en Uli

Fikry El Azzouzi will be 2020 Writer in Residence @UCLDutch

Fikry El Azzouzi, UCLDutch Writer in Residence 2020The Dutch Department’s annual Writer in Residence 2020 will be Flemish author and journalist Fikry El Azzouzi.

Dutch department finalists will be translating a section of his latest novel De Beloning (‘The reward’), in collaboration with their counterparts at the Universities of Sheffield and Nottingham.

Fikry El Azzouzi (b. 1978), a Flemish-Moroccan author, writes novels, columns and plays. He debuted in 2010 with ‘The Feast of the Sheep’. For his novel Drarrie in the Night and his play ‘Jihad Travels’, he was awarded the 65th Arkprijs van het Vrije Woord. She Alone is the love story of a Flemish woman and a Moroccan man, and at the same time a dystopian warning about Europe and its growing fear of everything that is different. The Reward is a satirical coming-of-age story.

LetterenfondsFlanders Literature

Certificaat Nederlands als Vreemde Taal (CNaVT)

The UCL Department of Dutch is hosting the exams in May 2020 (1-15 May). These exams are set and marked by an external institution, under the auspices of the Nederlandse Taalunie. They are open to both UCL students and Dutch language learners from outside the college, who would like to obtain an official qualification.

CNaVTWhat is it?

The exams cater for different language levels and areas of interest; they cover all skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) and are quite extensive. If you pass, you receive a certificate that is widely recognised by Dutch and Flemish organisations and educational institutions.

The exam is offered on five levels / domains, based on the CEFR levels (Common European Framework for Languages – for a self-assessment grid, click here)

  • INFO: maatschappelijk informeel; tourist and informal profile = CEFR level A2 (suitable for UCL BA Dutch first year)
  • FORM: maatschappelijk formeel; more formal social profile =  CEFR level B1 (very manageable for UCL BA Dutch second year)
  • PROF: zakelijk professioneel; professional profile = CEFR level B2 (challenging but attainable for UCL BA Dutch second year)
  • STRT: educatief startbekwaam; intermediate educational level =  CEFR level B2 (challenging but attainable for UCL BA Dutch second year)
  • EDUP: educatief professioneel; advanced educational level =  CEFR LEVEL C1 (UCL BA Dutch final year)

More information in English can be found on the CNaVT website, where you can also access sample exams. You can also find the rules and regulations attached (in Dutch only).

How to enrol 

Deadline for enrolment is 15 March 2020, and you can enrol online via .


There is a fee of £75 for UCL students (incl. CLIE students; institution code: 36B16425), £100 for people outside UCL, which needs to be paid before 25/03/2019.

Payment information will be sent upon enrolment. In the on-line registration module, you still need to tick the box ‘betalen’ to finalise your enrolment.

Dates of exams

We will organise the dates at the end of March, when the UCL exam table has been announced, so we can work around it. For reasons of fairness, all people taking the same level need to take the exam at the same time. In order to accommodate the growing number of younger candidates taking the STRT educatief startbekwaam (B2) exam, that exam will take place on either Saturday 2 or 9/5.

Creative writing with Dutch author Vrouwkje Tuinman

How do these people know each other? Why is the one young woman looking to the side? Who or what is she looking at? Why are they posing the way they do? Is this their car? Where and why is this picture taken?

Formulating these and more questions about this intriguing picture led our current finalists to writing a synopsis of a potential backstory, expertly guided by Vrouwkje Tuinman, novelist and poet, who had just published her latest collection of poems contemplating the loss of her long-term partner, former City of Amsterdam poet laureate F. Starink.

Starink is known for writing poetry and performing at funeral services for lonely and unknown people. Vrouwkje Tuinman posthumously finished his last manuscript about this remarkable and laudable initiative.

The 2-hour session with our finalists did not involve death and mourning, but rather various techniques for creating stories based on the above picture, and a range of key words. Students enjoyed playing around with this and listening to each other’s creations.

We are working with our current Harting exchange student to publish these stories at the Utrecht University student writing platform, so watch this space!

2019 Anglo-Netherlands postgraduate essay prize awarded to Lucelle Pardoe

ANS Essay Prize 2019
Christine Sas. Lucelle Pardoe, Jeremy Bentham (all UCL) and Paul Dimond (ANS).

Recent UCL Dutch Translation Masters graduate Lucelle Pardoe has been awarded the 2019 Essay Prize of the Anglo-Netherlands Society (ANS). Her essay, titled ‘Doodgewoon: Translating Age-Appropriate Material in Dutch Children’s Literature’, dealt with translating a children’s book about coping with death into a different culture. Paul Dimond, ANS Council member and former British Ambassador presented Lucelle with her certificate, the prize cheque and a complimentary membership of the Anglo-Netherlands Society yesterday (21 November 2019). As is apparent from the picture, Jeremy Bentham regarded the ceremony with favour.

Founded in 1920, only one year after UCL Dutch, the Anglo-Netherlands Society has worked to develop goodwill and understanding between the peoples of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for almost a century. The Society has as its purpose the promotion of the social, artistic, literary, educational, scientific and other interests that the Dutch and the British have in common. It is a non-party-political, non-profit making organisation with a national remit, based in London, and run by voluntary effort.