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20th Century Literature: Authors and Images


Dr. M. Engelberts

Members of the research group

dr. M. Engelberts
dr. R.W.H. Glitz
prof.dr. H.A. v.d. Liet
dr. E.R.G. Metz
dr. L.N. Pennings
dr. S. v.d. Poll
dr. Graham Riach
dr. R.M. de Rooij
dr. G.J.A. Snel
dr. J.M. Stelleman
dr. P. Valdivia Martin
dr. S.M.E. van Wesemael
Prospective members are asked to contact the coordinator or one of the members.

Description of the research programme of the research group

This group centers on literary authors of the twentieth century and on the images of twentieth century literature that have shaped our vision of these authors and groups of authors. The past few decades of literary research have been very much marked by the surge of the paradigm of ‘theory’. At the same time, the position of literature and of literary authors in society has become a less privileged one. Taken together, these tendencies are often felt to have undermined the legitimacy of studies and approaches that are centered on individual writers and on groups of authors. This research group is driven by an interest in individual literary authors and their particulars, that do not always match theoretical priorities. Without returning to classical conceptions of the autonomy of the subject, and without rejecting the advances of recent and less recent theoretical approaches, this group foregrounds the specificity of the individual work. It is also, and consequently, aiming at an analysis of the way twentieth century literature has been presented, mainly as a unified battlefield in which modernism has been superseded by postmodernism. This presentation – that could in some respects be called a commodification for educational and research purposes inspired both by historiographical and theoretical tendencies or desires – has sometimes (but still rather marginally) been contested (cf. studies about ‘anti-moderns’ during modernism), yet it still shapes the image of twentieth century authors and literature to a large extent.

Envisaged results

See below.

Work plan and time schedule

Yearly volumes of at least two journals devoted to twentieth century authors of which the participants of this group are board members. Articles and monographs on individual authors and groups of authors. Group members will also participate in activities and writing geared toward a less restricted audience (see below, ‘societal relevance’). Spui 25 lectures, probably as a series, are one of the planned activities. Issues and work or external publications of common interest will be discussed at regular (but not too short) intervals.

Societal relevance

For all the changes that occur at present in the field of book production and the position of literature in society, print fiction – whether on screen or on paper – is undeniably a major part of the book sector, if only in sales figures. Twentieth century authors continue to be central in this sector and to be read and discussed in contemporary culture. A faculty of humanities serves this societal interest if it studies authors, especially since much of the interest that literature raises in society is author-oriented. It should also be noted that for some conspicuous parts of the job market of graduates of language and culture studies, such as publishing houses and journalism, author-based knowledge of twentieth century literature is indispensable.

Members of this group are active in the following constellations: