The staff members of Literatures in English are involved in research projects that are divided in four overlapping themes:
1. Transnationalism: This newly developing field reflects how authors and texts from one culture move and affect those of other cultures. Examples of these research projects are Amrita Das’s NWO-funded Ph.D. project on the influence of the ghazal on American poetry, Anita Raghunath’s work on the influence of the Caribbean on British identity, or Diederik Oostdijk’s project on American poets traveling in Europe during the Cold War Era. Associated staff members are Ena Jansen who works on South African literature and Jacqueline Bel who has written on postcolonial Dutch literature. The Migration and Diversity Centre is the overarching research group at the VU connected to this theme.
2. Literature & Visuality: Connected to our Master’s programme Literature Visualized and one of the specializations in the Literature & Society BA, the research done in this field looks at how literature intersects or compares with visual media. Kristine Steenbergh’s NWO-funded VENI-project “Moving Scenes; Theatre, Passions, and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England, Roel van den Oever’s book Mama’s Boy: Momism and Homophobia in Postwar American Culture, and Dirk Visser’s Ph.D. project on the Representation of AIDS in American Theater are prime examples.
3. Gender: The way in which literature discusses, displays, and represents issues of masculinity and femininity is a third common bond in our research. Babs Boter’s work on the travel literature of the Dutch writer Mary Pos, Kristine Steenbergh’s (co)-edited book on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender and Emotion, and Roel van den Oever’s planned project on Queer Friendship reflects this research interest.
4. Representations of War: A fourth common theme is how the experience of war is depicted in literature: Andrew Niemeijer’s NWO-funded Ph.D. project Bards and Bloggers of War, and Diederik Oostdijk’s Among the Nightmare Fighters: American Poets of World War II
“Enriched with extensive historical and personal background information drawn from the poets’ archives, Oostdijk’s study explores the internal confusion expressed by the World War II poets who felt overshadowed by the past generation of Great War poets in their own conflicts with notions of identity, manhood, and the haunting aftermath of war. Collectively their poems form an important and sobering antidote to the sometimes overly positive celebrations of the Good War and the Greatest Generation, recapturing some of the anxiety, frustration, and bitter sadness that the war years also occasioned.” The University of South Carolina Press.