Centenary of Dutch Studies at UCL (and the Anglophone world at large)

alcs2019Between 6 and 9 November close to 80 international scholars from both sides of the Atlantic met in the UCL Institute for Advanced Studies for the 13th international conference of the Association for Low Countries Studies “Worlding the Low Countries”, marking the 100th anniversary of UCL Dutch. In 1919 the very first Chair for Dutch Studies in the Anglophone world was instituted here, with the later famous historian Pieter Geyl as first incumbent.

Dagomar Degroot delivering his keynoteWith keynotes on the “Dutch Republic and the Future of Conflict in a Warming Climate” by Dagomar Degroot (Georgetown), “Rethinking Dutch Literary Modernity (1880–1920) by Saskia Pieterse (Utrecht), “Diasporic Objects and Persons, Restitution and the Gift” by Bambi Ceuppens (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Brussels) and “Translation and the Multiple Languages of the Early Modern Low Countries” by SELCS‘s very own Theo Hermans, and 15 packed panels, the conference focussed on the worldliness of the Low Countries by broadening this type of research to the study of Dutch, including, of course, its global varieties and relations.

Bambi Ceuppens delivering her keynoteThe scholarly programme was rounded off by a screening of Marjoleine Boonstra’s The Miracle of Le Petit Prince, followed by a Q&A with the director in the Dutch Centre, and culminated in an alumni reunion and festive celebration of UCL Dutch’s centenary on Saturday 9th, for which more than 100 alumni of the department had signed up. Axel Rüger, the newly appointed chief executive of the Royal Academy of Arts and former director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Curator of the Low Countries collections at the National Gallery, entertained the audience with a visually engaging talk on his experiences of working in the art world and brokering relations between the UK and the Low Countries.


Alumni and Friends of UCL Dutch are encouraged to join our LinkedIn group (bit.ly/31q6hsx) to stay in touch with the department. Information about the UCLDutch Centenary programme and upcoming events can also be found at dutch100.com and on Twitter @ucldutch.

Hans Bennis, Taaluni director, opening the diner pensantA Diner Pensant on the eve of the conference, kindly hosted in the Royal Academy of Arts, brought together representatives of UCL, our Dutch colleagues from Sheffield, the University Council of Modern Languages, the diplomatic missions and other stakeholders to discuss the institutional environment of Dutch Studies on a UK-wide level. We are grateful for the generous support by our partners and sponsors the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union), Flanders House, the UCL Institute for Advanced Studies, SELCS, the Anglo-Netherlands Society, the Dutch Centre, The Low Countries and Tony’s Chocolonely slavery-free chocolate.

More information can be found on the conference website.

(Re)Watch Dagomar Degroot’s opening keynote from “Worlding the Low Countries” conference, 6 November 2019

Lessons from the Golden Age: The Dutch Republic and the Future of Conflict in a Warming Climate

As temperatures soar in the coming century, essential resources may grow scarce in temperate latitudes but more abundant in the Arctic. Geographers, political scientists, and journalists have concluded that wars will grow more common as the distribution and quantity of resources shift to favour some nations over others. Yet the history of the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century reveals that these relation­ships are much more complicated than common­ly assumed. Climatic shocks in that century, caused largely by volcanic eruptions, did indeed incite violence across the Dutch trading empire, but only by exacerbating existing sources of discontent.

Dagomar DegrootClimate change could also mitigate conflict, however, including in the Arctic where environ­ments were especially sensitive to changes in temperature. By changing environments that served as battlefields, climatic trends also influenced how the long wars of the seventeenth century actually unfolded, a relationship rarely considered in projections of the hotter future. Perhaps above all, wars fought by the Dutch and other polities across the early modern world made many communities and societies more vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change.

The experiences of the Dutch in the seventeenth century cannot tell us exactly what we can expect in the very different world to come, but they can help us imagine the future in different, more complex ways.

BBC3 Radio on modern Dutch literature (9 Oct. 2019, 10pm)


Laurence Scott looks at the way Dutch writers are addressing history and contemporary life with Rodaan Al Galidi, Eva Meijer, Onno Blom, Herman Koch and Toon Tellegen.

Eva Meijer is an author, artist, singer, songwriter and philosopher. Her non-fiction study on animal Communication, Animal Languages has been published this year and her first novel to be translated into English Bird Cottage, has been nominated for the BNG and Libris prizes in the Netherlands and is being translated into several languages.

Rodaan Al Galidi is a trained engineer who fled his native Iraq and arrived in the Netherlands in 1998. He taught himself Dutch and now writes both prose and poetry. His novel De autist en de postduif (The autist and the carrier-pigeon) was one of the books in 2011 given the EU Prize for Literature.

Onno Blom is an author, literary reviewer and freelance journalist who has appears regularly discussing books on the Dutch radio show TROS Nieuws, has worked as editor-in-chief at the publishing house Prometheus and whose biography of the Dutch artist and sculptor Jan Hendrik Wolkers won the 2018 Dutch biography prize.

Herman Koch is an actor and a writer. His best selling novelist, The Dinner, was published in 55 countries and sold more than a million copies. His new book, The Ditch, is a literary thriller.

Toon Tellegen is is one of the best-known Dutch writers. In 2007 he received two major prizes for his entire oeuvre. He considers himself in the first place a poet and has published more than twenty collections of poetry to date, among them Raptors. He is also a novelist and a prolific and popular children’s author.

Events put on by the Dutch Foundation for Literature, New Dutch Writing and Modern Culture take Dutch writers to Norwich, London.

Producer: Zahid Warley

Release date: 09 October 2019
44 minutes



Dutch Walk through Bloomsbury and King’s Cross

Many thanks to everybody who came along to the Dutch events on the UCL It’s All Academic Festival – a fun, free, interactive festival for all ages and interests. Almost 40 people signed up for the Dutch Language Taster (Yes, You Can Speak Dutch!) and our  Dutch Walk through Bloomsbury  & King’s Cross, next to many other exciting events from across UCL.
Christine reading "The Evenings" in front of Gerard Reve's home 1952-57
Christine reading “The Evenings” in front of Gerard Reve’s home 1952-57
Gerard Reve
Gerard Reve, Fotocollectie Anefo Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, no. 921-9989
Anne Frank
Anne Frank bust by Doreen Kern in the British Library







Aletta Jacobs
Aletta Jacobs meets Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
VOC pub in King’s Cross (now closed)

Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies, vol. 43, no. 3 (November 2019)

Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries StudiesDutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies
vol. 43, no. 3 (November 2019)

Select papers from the XIXth Biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies (Bloomington, Ind., June 2018)
Guest-edited by Marsely L. Kehoe (Hope College, Holland, Mich.) and Jesse Sadler (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Cal.)




Select papers from the XIXth Biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies
Marsely L. Kehoe & Jesse Sadler


Political Sites and Collective Identities in Hendrick Avercamp’s Ice-Skating Landscapes
Isabella Lores-Chavez

Birds of a Feather: Deciphering the Didactic Iconography and Humour of Adriaen van de Venne’s Hoe dienen wij bij een!
Sarah Dyer Magleby

New Netherlands, Archival Deficiency, and Contesting New York History in the Antebellum U.S.
Derek Kane O’Leary

From Bastions to Models: Deutsche Schulen in Den Niederlanden as Tools of German Cultural Policy
Joshua Sander


Political Sites and Collective Identities in Hendrick Avercamp’s Ice-Skating Landscapes
Isabella Lores-Chavez

In the first decades of the seventeenth century, Hendrick Avercamp was among the first Dutch painters to prioritize local landscape subjects as a source of pictorial interest. Avercamp’s ice-skating scenes offer a vision of a prosperous society emerging in the Northern provinces in the midst of the Dutch Revolt against Spain. This paper argues that Avercamp’s work, rather than simply celebrating a quaint pastime, invites a more political reading. Avercamp’s use of nascent symbols of Dutch identity – particularly the tricolour flag – tie his paintings inextricably to the political cause of Dutch autonomy, and suggest the political consciousness of the citizens of the young Republic.


Birds of a Feather: Deciphering the Didactic Iconography and Humour of Adriaen van de Venne’s Hoe dienen wij bij een!
Sarah Dyer Magleby

Delft-born Adriaen van de Venne (1580–1662) is an artist well-known for his genre scenes, portraits, and book illustrations. He also created images with great moralistic and comic value, such as his painting Hoe dienen wij bij een!, made between c. 1614 and 1662. This painting portrays two brown and black-spotted owls in the guise of humans skating on a frozen lake. As other more conventional birds soar above the distant skeletal trees, these feathered creatures both wear contemporary clothing. The male owl also clenches a rope in his beak with a pair of glasses knotted at the end. This same rope attaches behind him to the female owl’s chest, but instead of spectacles, her end holds several dead mice. Above the two anthropomorphic animals floats a banderole, which translates to ‘How well we go together!’ Although scholars believe van de Venne intended this work as lighthearted with only a vague message of foolishness, I contend that through the artist’s use of iconographic imagery and well-known proverbs and themes, van de Venne produced a humorous painting with a moralizing and didactic message which condemned the vice of adultery and warned the male audience about the dangers of a cunning woman.


New Netherlands, Archival Deficiency, and Contesting New York History in the Antebellum U.S.
Derek Kane O’Leary

In nineteenth-century New York, the collection, translation, and republication of documents related to colonial Dutch history was about more than antiquarianism or the ethno-centrism of Dutch-descended Americans. With the unprecedented support of the state of New York and U.S. ministers in Europe, the New York Historical Society (NYHS) orchestrated a much more ambitious project to reinscribe Dutch imperialism within a grander narrative of the state. This, they hoped, would situate New York at the centre of national history, and its archive as the nation’s most important historical record. In doing so, the stewards of the state’s archives and history worked to displace the burlesque rendition of New York’s past popularized by Washington Irving, in favor of a unified, progressive, celebratory narrative.


From Bastions to Models: Deutsche Schulen in Den Niederlanden as Tools of German Cultural Policy
Joshua Sander

Successive German governments in the twentieth century used the system of German International Schools to achieve their cultural policy goals in the Netherlands. Prior to the Nazi assumption of power, the Weimar government and local German community leaders in the Netherlands saw the schools as bastions of German culture and as tools to prevent the ‘Dutchification’ of Germans living abroad. With Hitler’s accession to the Chancellorship, the purpose of these schools changed to include the inculcation of a National Socialist and Germanic worldview among the students. Finally, with the German occupation during the Second World War, these schools, which the Nazi occupiers significantly expanded, were seen as models for the future development of Dutch education. Although the ultimate Nazi defeat limited the effect of these German International Schools upon the larger Dutch educational establishment, the changes the German Schools underwent in the 1930s were largely mirrored by Dutch institutions during the occupation. The German International Schools therefore stand as further evidence of the Nazis’ larger designs for the Netherlands after the hoped-for German victory.


Low Countries History Seminar, 2019/20 (IHR London, UK)

Convenors: Liesbeth Corens (Queen Mary), Anne Goldgar (King’s College London), Ben Kaplan (UCL), Ulrich Tiedau (UCL), Joanna Woodall (Courtauld)

Meetings: Fridays at 5:15 pm at the Institute for Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. All meetings will be held in Wolfson Room I, in the basement. All welcome!

Website: https://www.history.ac.uk/seminars/low-countries-history

Autumn Term

27 September – Jonas van Tol (Amsterdam), “William of Orange and the French Wars of Religion”

11 October – Karen Hollewand (Utrecht), “Sex and scholarship: the banishment of Hadriaan Beverland”

22 November – Anne Goldgar (KCL), “Marketing Arctic knowledge: travel literature and the passions in the seventeenth century”

Spring Term

17 January – Daniel Margócsy (Cambridge), “A Disease of ships and intestines: a maritime history of worms”

31 January – Mark Ponte (Amsterdam), “‘All blacks that come to this city’: An Afro-Atlantic community in seventeenth-century Amsterdam”

14 February – Jelle van Lottum (Huygens Institute, Amsterdam), “Labour migration to the Dutch Republic: a maritime perspective”

13 March – Ad Putter (Bristol), “The Dutch Hat Makers of Medieval London”

27 March – Freya Sierhuis (York), title t. b. c.

Summer Term

1 May – Margaret Schotte (York University, Ontario), “‘Paper Sailors’: Competing Notions of Expertise in Dutch Nautical Manuals”

15 May – Michael Depreter (Oxford), “The Count of Flanders, the Towns, and England. Patterns of Competing and Complementary Diplomacies in Times of Revolt (14th–15th centuries)”

UCL awards Honorary Doctorate to Cees Nooteboom

UCL Dutch celebrates this recognition for the Dutch author. As a poet, novelist and travel writer whose work has been translated into over thirty languages, it is time that Nooteboom’s work is recognized and honoured in this way in the English-speaking world. Known for his playful novels such as In the Dutch Mountains which still deal with the most profound issues, it is Nooteboom’s resolute, critical Europeanism that is perhaps most significant at the present time.

Cees Nooteboom’s work has been enjoyed by many UCL students, not only of Dutch literature, but of comparative literature and translation studies too. Their world is not unlike that of the narrator of In the Dutch Mountains. ‘What else do I read? Diaries, letters and, best of all, dictionaries. For let us be honest: without the intervention of any thinking agent, language itself is still the greatest communicator.’

Cees Nooteboom will formally receive his doctorate in at UCL’s graduation ceremonies in September 2019.


Picture © MacLehose Press

New Dutch Writing campaign kicks off with focus on literary translation

[text from www.thebookseller.com]

The New Dutch Writing campaign launched last week, with a focus on literary translation and presenting a new generation of Dutch authors.

Dutch and British representatives from the world of books and translation gathered to celebrate the launch at The Union Club in Soho on Wednesday evening (3rd July). Speeches were given by Brechje Schwachofer, deputy ambassador of the Dutch Embassy, and Bas Pauw from the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Pauw said: “New Dutch Writing will focus on presenting a new generation of Dutch authors, an exciting young literature written at the heart of Europe, by Britains closest neighbours on the continent – both geographically and psychologically. A literature that feels familiar and exotic at the same time.  

“The other central theme of the campaign will be literary translation. Literary translation as a vital culture – not as a threshold for foreign authors, not as a nuisance for publishers, but as an intriguing intellectual skill and as a cultural richness. We will give centre stage to the people who make it possible for UK readers to read Dutch books. We will get translators on stage, organise residencies for translators and reach out to the young generation of aspiring translators. The campaign will be celebrating the work of translators and capitalising on the growing interest in international literature among UK readers.”

The launch saw The Union building specially dressed in the New Dutch Writing livery and attendees received goody bags including samplers for forthcoming Dutch books from John Murray and Picador, a gift voucher for new Dutch restaurant Gezellig and a bespoke NDW bicycle bell.

More information here and here.

Three events at UCL Festival of Culture (3-7 June 2019)

UCL’s Department of Dutch was present with three events at this year’s Festival of Culture, an annual festival organised by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities for the wider public.

Christine Sas kicked off on Monday 3rd of July with a Dutch language taster, attended by over 30 visitors.

On Tuesday, Reinier Salverda enlightened his audience in the British Library Pavilion with a discussion of “The Book that killed Colionalism”, Max Havelaar, by Multatuli. A Dutch classic, still relevant to literature, history and politics today, Max Havelaar is the emblem of the Dutch Fair Trade Movement, and its latest English translation has recently been published by the New York Review of Books in its Classics Originals series.

Visitors were also invited to a show and tell session with curator of Dutch Collections Marja Kingma at the British Library to see original books by and about Multatuli from their Dutch Collection.

On Friday of the Festival Week, a group of die-hards joined Ulrich Tiedau in the pouring rain on a Dutch walk through Bloomsbury that took them from the impressive Dutch library at UCL, past Gerard Reve’s former living place, when he unsuccessfully tried to establish himself on the English market in the 1950s, the Elizabeth Anderson Gallery with its connections to Dutch and British feminism, the Eurostar terminal, London’s gateway to the Low Countries, and the many beautiful Dutch and Flemish exhibits of the British Library.