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The Most Famous Writer of the Low Countries: Herman Brusselmans Star Author and (Reluctant) Public Intellectual

Abstract

The Flemish writer Herman Brusselmans is the most famous author of the Low Countries. In this article, Herman Brusselmans is analysed as a star author. First and foremost, two striking aspects of Brusselmans’s stardom are analysed: his public visibility and the cult of the private. Attention is then focused on Brusselmans’s experience of celebrity, which he - like many other star authors - thematises in his books. Doing so, he consciously places himself in the context of popular culture. On the other hand, as a result of his celebrity status he has been expected - particularly in the last few years - to assume the role of public intellectual willy-nilly, and this in turn has had consequences for his work.

Open access
Multatuli in Zombieland

Abstract

In 1860, the Dutch author Multatuli (pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker) published Max Havelaar, which was to become the most famous nineteenth-century Dutch novel. In 2016, the book was rewritten by Martijn Adelmund as a book in which also zombies play a role. By doing so, Adelmund follows a fifteen-year-old American literary tradition to rewrite literary masterpieces as zombie books. Since Max Havelaar neither contains many characters nor descriptions of Indonesian nature and has a rather simple plot, Adelmund decided to mix the book with another nineteenth-century Dutch literary masterpiece: Louis Couperus’ De stille kracht. The purpose is to make secondary school pupils read the original Max Havelaar again and encourage them to compare the two versions in order to develop a critical understanding of Dutch colonial history and its present-day consequences. The review focuses on the way Adelmund combined the two classic books, reshaped the plot and added parts of his own. Attention is paid to the way in which the original language was modernized and to the question whether this book really can or will help young students to read the original. However noble Adelmund’s objectives may be, it is very improbable that he will manage to realize them since the quality of the novel he created leaves a lot to be desired.

Open access
The Public Antagonist and Martyr: Reading A.H.J. Dautzenberg against Literary Typologies

Abstract

I analyze the public authorship of Dutch writer A.H.J. Dautzenberg. I disentangle some of the main threads in his literature and public persona, singling out three socio-cultural issues on which he has publicly taken a stance in both his literature and his non-fiction texts. I base my analysis on three types of sources: Dautzenberg’s works of literary fiction, appearances in the media, and non-fictional texts. I argue that the case of Dautzenberg brings out the limits of any typology of engaged authorship, autonomous authorship, or stardom, and that his veiled emphasis on factuality under the flag of fiction to an important extent explains the efficiency of his style of media performance, and helps the author generate attention for his work. I conclude that in the final instance, both his work and his media performances are subordinate to his societal engagement, and that therefore, Dautzenberg is a public antagonist first, and an author only secondarily.

Open access
“The Writer Is Essentially Indiscrete.” On the Literary Gossip of a Dutch Literary Celebrity

Abstract

In contemporary media culture, literary writers arouse the fascination of media fans by awakening in them the desire for the authentic by publishing autobiographical novels or other forms of life narrative. In doing so, they run the risk of becoming part of media’s large gossip mechanism that plays such a central role nowadays. The public conversation about the books of writers such as the Dutch author Connie Palmen - whose Logboek van een onbarmhartig jaar will be the main case study of this article - becomes focused on the elements of truth and authenticity and ignores the literary or fictional construction of the work. This article discusses the question whether this leaves any room for contemporary star authors to distinguish themselves from media gossipers.

Open access
Africa and Its People in the Polish Media

Abstract

The African continent is treated by the Polish media marginally and usually seen through the lens of four domains of stereotypical perceptions that are associated with difficult life conditions, threats and dangers, beautiful and wild nature, as well as original and diverse cultures. Monitoring of the Polish media has become very important in this situation. That is why the results of first media monitoring report were published in 2011 by ‘Africa Another Way’ Foundation. Five years later the monitoring was repeated. It is hard to resist the impression that Africa is still viewed as this poor, underdeveloped and dangerous continent. And the way it is presented translates into the way individuals of African descent are perceived.

Open access
The Annexation of the Transvaal in 1877: The First Boer Reactions

Abstract

In April 1877 The South African Republic was annexed by the British Empire. This was a part of a wider scheme to unify the sub-continent under the British rule. The story is well known. Many works deals with the motives of Lord Carnarvon and other British decision-makers. Much less deals with the question of immediate Boer reaction, or to be exact, the reasons behind their inaction. This article deals with this problem. Tries to evaluate the attitudes of both, the British and the Boers, and to show why the Transvaal Boers mostly ignored the annexation declaration? This text is just an excursion into field which demands much wider and more detailed studies.

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The Australopithecines – An Extinct Group of Human Ancestors: My Scientific Interest in South Africa

Abstract

I introduce the subject of my research interest in South Africa - the australopithecines - a group of bipedal, small-brained and large-toothed creatures from the Plio-Pleistocene, from which the human genus arose. I then briefly discuss various topics of my research, concerning: (1) Taxonomic status and morphological description of the extinct human relative from the Kromdraai site (Australopithecus robustus); (2) Graphic reconstruction of the partial skull from Kromdraai - specimen numbered TM 1517; (3) Assessment of size sexual dimorphism of the South African australopithecines (Australopithecus robustus and Australopithecus africanus), which, in terms of facial features, was pronounced - being almost gorilla-sized; (4) Social behavior of a fossil hominid species from around 2 million years ago, which, in terms of the social structure, was most likely a multimale-multifemale one; and (5) An event from the history of paleoanthropology, concerning the content of the 1924/25 photographs of the Taung Child (Australopithecus africanus) - the first australopithecine skull discovered.

Open access
From Central Asia to South Africa: In Search of Inspiration in Rock Art Studies

Abstract

The paper describes the story of discovering South African rock art as an inspiration for research in completely different part of the globe, namely in Central Asia and Siberia. It refers to those aspect of African research which proved to importantly develop the understanding of rock art in Asia. Several aspects are addressed. First, it points to importance of rethinking of relationship between art, myth and ethnography, which in South Africa additionally resulted in reconsidering the ontology of rock images and the very idea of reading of rock art. From the latter viewpoint particularly inspiring appeared the idea of three-dimensionality of rock art ‘text’. The second issue of South African ‘origin,’ which notably inspired research all over the world, concerns a new theorizing of shamanism. The paper then discusses how and to what extent this new theory add to the research on the rock art in Siberia and Central Asia.

Open access
Gender and Eroticism in Contemporary Art from South Africa

Abstract

The aim of this article is to present the interaction between the history of lesbian and gay culture and its identity on the one hand, and the connection between the visual art or visual culture on the other hand. This essay endeavors to interpret the different meanings attached to sexual identities by examining the diverse artistic activities of a variety of artists: both men and women (e.g. Steven Cohen, Clive van den Berg, Andrew Verster, Nicolas Hlobo, Jean Brundrit, Zanele Muholi). Employing an intersectional analytical approach, the article shows that the identity of art is constructed alongside a person’s multiple identities, such as race, gender, family ties, religion and class. The main research question is whether in today’s visual art originating from South Africa, which is characterized by a hegemony of heterosexual stereotypes, there is a significant place for gender oriented art?

Open access
The Historical Taboo: Colonial Discourses and Postcolonial Identities in Belgium

Abstract

This article examines so-called colonial discourses in Belgium related to the former Sub-Saharan colony owned by Leopold II of Belgium which today is known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) or the Congo-Kinshasa. Having introduced the colonial history of the DR Congo from the 15th century until 1910, the study starts with a discussion of Van den Braembussche’s concept of a ‘historical taboo’ and four ways of engaging with such implicit interdictions. Finally, an empirical analysis of colonial discourses in Belgium from the 1890s until today will be presented in conjunction with Belgium’s linguistic-cultural division, taking into account age-related divergence.

Open access