GEMS Seminar 7 June: Kornee van der Haven inspired by… Alan Sinfield

Wednesday, June 7th, 2-4 PM. Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy, Magnel-wing, Room ‘Freddy Mortier’

Inspired by cultural materialism and Marxist literary critique, the Shakespeare scholar Alain Sinfield has developed (together with his partner in crime Jonathan Dollimore) a theory of ‘dissident reading’ (or reading dissidence) in the course of the 1980-ies and 90-ies, with works like Political Shakespeare (1985) and Faultlines (1992). Especially in this last book he develops a reading strategy that allows him to detect ‘dissident potential’ in early modern literary texts by pointing to moments of conflict and contradiction that are produced within the social order as represented in a literary work. A lot of Sinfield’s later work deals with power structures in the work of Shakespeare in relation to gender and sexuality, like in his last book of 2006, with the revealing subtitle ‘unfinished business of cultural materialism’.

During this GEMS seminar Kornee van der Haven will reflect on some of Sinfield’s main concepts and reading strategies. By way of discussing some examples from his own research about early modern Dutch literature, he will also illustrate how Sinfield’s theory and methodology could provide an inspiring approach for scholars outside the specialized field of Shakespeare studies.

For literary scholars and for early modernists in particular, but also for (cultural) historians with an interest in discourse and textual analysis.

Registration is not required for GEMS-members. Non-members who wish to attend can sign-up with Kornee van der Haven: For this seminar we will read some chapters from Faultlines (1993) and Shakespeare, Authority, Sexuality (2006)



The GEMS Seminars provide the opportunity to members of our research group and other scholars with an interest in the early modern period to meet and discuss current research issues. There are categories of these meetings (see schedule on First there are the Ateliers during which GEMS-members or guests present their research projects, recent publications or ideas for future projects. Who is interested to spotlight his or her current or future research projects during one of these meetings are cordially invited to get in contact with the organization ( Secondly we will have three meetings this academic year with specialists of the early modern period who will introduce to you the work of a famous scholar by whom they are inspired in their own scholarly work. The work of at least three important thinkers will be at the fore in the following sessions of Inspired by…: Michel de Certeau (by Prof. Steven Vanden Broecke on December 14th, 2016), Natalie Zemon Davis (by Prof. Alexander Roose on March 15th, 2017) and Alan Sinfield (by Prof. Kornee van der Haven on June 7th, 2017).

Seminar (Atelier) May 17th – Jetze Touber and Tim Vergeer

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017, 1-3 PM. Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy, Magnel-wing, Room “Freddy Mortier”

Jetze Touber – Body stones in early modern culture

In this presentation I will discuss my research project on the early modern perception of stones growing inside the human body: the kidneys, bladder and gall bladder. The project investigates how such body stones were marked as divine or natural, organic or inorganic, meaningful or senseless objects between the late sixteenth and the early eighteenth centuries, a period of profound changes both in medicine, natural philosophy, and religion.

Tim Vergeer – Passion without restraint: Emotions in Hispano-Dutch theatre in the seventeenth century

In the seventeenth century, Spanish imported theatre was especially popular. The question is why? Unlike plays by the established playwrights Vondel, Hooft and Bredero, the Spanish repertoire was interspersed with turbulent emotions, or so-called ‘woelingen’. Spanish plays meant a refuge from an emotional repressive regime: the neo-stoic philosophy of Justus Lipsius and his students.


GEMS-members do not need to register for this meeting. Colleagues with an interest in the early modern period who are not a member of GEMS can join us too (after a short notice to:, because of the limited space in the reserved rooms).

CFP: Literature without Frontiers?

Next year (9-10 February, 2018) a conference will be organised at Ghent University  about perspectives for a transnational literary history of the Low Countries. This conference – Literature without Frontiers? – aims to bring together a number of telling examples that advocate a transnational perspective for the construction and writing of the literary history (histories?) of the Low Countries in the period 1200-1800. We invite scholars of the periods involved to address case studies (authors, texts, translations, mechanisms of textual production, motifs, tropes, genres) that on account of their ‘transnational’ character have fallen outside the scope of the current attempts of literary historiography.

Traditional literary historiography is rooted in the nineteenth-century construction of national literatures based on the political desire to demarcate national states and their corresponding linguistic identities from each other. For the study of the literature that predates the nineteenth-century nation-state the taxonomy of literary phenomena on the basis of geographical frontiers that were in most cases non-existent at the time, is a highly artificial though very common practice. The organizers of the conference Literature without Frontiers? believe that the study of literature in this long period is better served by a transnational perspective, if only because of the transnational character of its functioning. On account of their limiting focus, nationally oriented literary histories of the periods in question cannot but undervalue the actual cultural processes at work both in the international ‘Republic of Letters’ as well as in the language regions that exceed the borders of the current nation states.

Keynote speakers: Frans Blom (University of Amsterdam) and David Wallace (University of Pennsylvania)

Proposals for a thirty-minute presentation are expected by June 1st, 2017. For more details, see the CFP Literature without Frontiers.

Academic award for GEMS-member Sarah Adams

Title page Monzongo, of de koningklyke slaaf (Van Winter 1774). Slave Zambiza attacks commander Alvarado.

Title page Monzongo, of de koningklyke slaaf (Van Winter 1774). Slave Zambiza attacks commander Alvarado.

GEMS-member Sarah Adams is awarded the biennial prize of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (Society of Dutch Literature) for the best master thesis on Dutch literature. Sarah examined the power of antislavery theatre in the Dutch abolitionist discussion around 1800 (supervisor: Kornee van der Haven). With this master dissertation, she graduated in Historical Linguistics and Literature at Ghent University (2015). Sarah is preparing a PhD-proposal on antislavery theatre in the Netherlands in the period of 1775-1825.

For the official notice:


GEMS in portraits: Britt Dams

MapaRIograndeThe third person we want to portray is Britt Dams. In February 2016, Britt obtained her doctoral degree with a dissertation on the description of Dutch Brazil (1624-1654). Currently, she is teaching a course on the history of Brazil at the Catholic University of Leuven. And in Ghent, Britt is still working as a French and Portuguese language instructor at the University Language Centre of Ghent University. Britt is a passionate storyteller, who knows just how to convince people to go travelling throughout Latin America.


Continue reading

May 2nd & 10th: DS seminar with Rodolphe Gasché

Our sixth guest of the Doctoral Course Histories and Theories of Reading is Rodolphe Gasché (State University of New York at Buffalo).

Central to the seminar will be Gasché’s most recent book: Deconstruction, Its Force, Its Violence (2016).

Time schedule and locations:Gasche

preparatory reading session:
Monday 2 May – 9:30 – 12:00.
Location: Large Meeting Room (Blandijn, third floor)

session with Rodolphe Gasché
Tuesday 10 May – 14:30 – 17:30.
Location: Room “Mortier” (Faculty Library)

Registration for the specialist course is required. See here or here for more information on registration and on the entire course.

April 26th & May 3rd: DS seminar with William Marx

Our fifth guest of the Doctoral Course Histories and Theories of Reading is William Marx (Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense).

MarxWe will read ‘Du tremblement de terre de Lisbonne à Auschwitz et Adorno: la crise de la poésie’ (2005), ‘Penser les arrière-gardes’ (2004/2008), ‘La véritable catharsis aristotélicienne : pour une lecture philologique et physiologique de la Poétique’ (2011), ‘Est-il possible de parler de la fin de la littérature?’ (2012), and ‘Brève histoire de la forme en littérature’ (2013).

Time schedule and location:

Tuesday, 26 April, 2016, 9:30 am – Faculty of Arts & Philosophy Library ‘Room Mortier’: preparatory session.

Tuesday, 3 May, 2016, 9:30 amLarge Meeting Room (Blandijn, third floor): session with William Marx.

Registration for the specialist course is required. See here or here for more information on registration and on the entire course.

March 24th, 2016: Lecture Jonathan Culler

Culler_BaudelairewithoutBenjaminIt is our pleasure to invite you to the lecture ‘Baudelaire without Benjamin’ that will be given by Professor. Dr. Jonathan Culler on Thursday March 24. The lecture will take place at Room Jozef-Plateau (Ghent University, building Plateau-Rozier), from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Jonathan Culler is Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. In 2015, his Theory of the Lyric was published, in which Culler offers us a bright, new and challenging view on the tradition of the lyric. Culler has also worked on 19th-century French literature (especially on Flaubert and Baudelaire), and on contemporary literary theory and criticism (especially structuralism, deconstruction and French theory generally). Other books that he has written are (amongst others): Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty (1974), Structuralist Poetics (1975), The Pursuit of Signs (1981), On Deconstruction (1982), Barthes (1983), and Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (1997).

Jonathan Culler will be visiting our university as part of our doctoral seminar series: Histories and Theories of Reading. In the seminar he will be discussing his most recent book on the theory of the lyric next to his work on literary theory in general. The seminar is open to all PhD students. Information on attending the doctoral seminar or future seminars can be found here.

You are most cordially invited to attend the lecture. Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to We look forward to seeing you at the lecture.