Running Research Projects

‘Binnenlandse vogels, buitenlandse nesten’: An international consortium studying Dutch literature in translation

This project brings together researchers from 15 countries working at the intersection of Dutch Studies, translation studies and transnational reception studies to examine how literature from Flanders and the Netherlands finds its way to international publishers. It examines the ‘lifecycles’ of a selection of book translations from Dutch, reconstructing their production and reception in various languages, cultures and contexts through interviews with ‘makers’ (translators, editors, publishers, marketers, reviewers, policymakers, etc.), analyses of paratexts, and the critical examination of government policies relating to literary translation and cultural diplomacy (e.g. translation grants, international promotion efforts, prizes, etc.).

Type: Research network funding
Duration: 2020 – 2022
Supervision: Jack McMartin (project coordinator), Paola Gentile (co-coordinator)
Funding: Dutch Language Union

Cultural policy, international publishers and the circulation of Dutch literature in translation

This project seeks to offer new insight into how literature from Flanders and the Netherlands finds its way to international publishers. It focuses particular attention on the two most important target markets for Dutch literature in translation: the German-language market and the English-language market. Previous exploratory research by the promoter of this project has shown that the national funding agencies that formulate and deploy the cultural policy of Flanders and the Netherlands as it relates to literature can have a decisive role in the international circulation of Dutch literature. However, little research is available about the actual influence that outward-facing cultural policies related to literature have on the editorial policy and the selection, production and publication practices of international publishers. Drawing on a selection of case studies of recently published book translations out of Dutch, this project aims to fill this gap and, in doing so, to provide a model that can be used for similar studies elsewhere in the European cultural field.

Type: Postdoctoral research fellowship
Duration: 2020 – 2022

Researcher: Theresia Feldmann
Supervision: Jack McMartin
Funding: KU Leuven Startfinanciering

The circulation of science news in the Covid-19 era

Whereas the coronavirus spreads irrespective of national, linguistic and media-specific constraints, the opposite can be said of news coverage about the virus, and science news more generally. Scientific knowledge undergoes various transformations in the course of travelling from the lab to the media to the news consumer, and these transformations can influence how science news is received and understood. This project examines two important types of transformations – translation from one language and culture to another, and remediation from one media platform to another – to better understand how science news circulates. We aim to provide (1) a big-picture analysis of translation and remediation practices in the Flemish science news ecosystem; and (2) an extensive case study zeroing in on news coverage about the search for a coronavirus vaccine and treatment. This knowledge is all the more important in an era marked by an overabundance of news stories, some more accurate than others, on the coronavirus. The project is fundamentally interdisciplinary, drawing on concepts from (journalistic) translation studies, reception studies and media studies. It is the first to situate Flanders in the global media landscape in which science news circulates today. Our partners include De StandaardEOS Magazine and EurekAlert!.

Type: PhD scholarships (2)
Duration: 2021 – 2025
Researchers: Elisa Nelissen and Marie Verstappen
Supervision: Jack McMartin (lead), Michaël Opgenhaffen (Institute for Media Studies) (co-lead), Luc van Doorslaer (University of Tartu and KU Leuven) (co-lead)
Funding: KU Leuven Impulse Fund

The Reception and Translation of Foreign Cultures in British Romantic Periodicals, 1809-1826

This project pursues a critical comparative analysis of the presence of cultural transfer and translation in three major Romantic periodicals that dominated the literary, cultural, scientific and economic debates in Britain during the first three decades of the 19th century: the Edinburgh Review (est. 1802), the Quarterly Review (est. 1809), and the Westminster Review (est. 1823). Responding to the relative neglect of the study of translation in Romantic (periodical) scholarship, the project analyses a clearly defined corpus of texts applying state-of-the-art methodologies of literary and translation studies, thus providing a critical and multifaceted view on the cross-cultural engagement of these periodicals in the period between 1809 and 1826 –and, by extension, of late Romantic literary culture in general. Focusing on a largely neglected aspect of Romantic culture and charting new methodological territory, the project constitutes a timely and innovative intervention in current Romantic scholarship. The project builds on the increasing scholarly interest in the role played by periodicals in the knowledge economy of post-Enlightenment Britain.

Type: PhD scholarship
Duration: 2016 – 2022
Researcher: Melanie Hacke
Supervision: Tom Toremans and Tom Mole (University of Edinburgh, co-supervisor)
Funding: Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)

Completed Research Projects

The translation and reception of the contemporary Peruvian fantastic narrative into French, Anglo-American, and Brazilian literary systems

The purpose of this project is to analyze how the “vacillation” between “the strange” and “the marvelous”, which is considered to be the elemental principle of fantastic literature, is translated, taking into account the two modalities that are emblematic of the genre: the “fantastic of perception” and the “fantastic of language”. Contrary to the former, which mainly depends on the presence of an unusual event, the latter variant is generated by a specific manipulation of narration. As such a narrative enunciation is likely to be  reproduced in an alternative way in different target languages, it relates to the problem of operational norms, and, more particularly, to the question whether a translation can be qualified as “adequate” or “acceptable”. Consequently, the study of these translation processes could shed a light on the reception of the Peruvian fantastic narrative in other literary systems and on its aesthetical and ideological implications in a transnational context, as the position of the supernatural towards conventional perception of reality may differ from culture to culture.

Type: PhD scholarship
Duration: 2016 – 2020
Researcher: Ellen Lambrechts
Supervision: Erwin Snauwaert and Nadia Lie

The Reception and Translation of Foreign Cultures in British Romantic Literary Magazines, 1817-1830

This project pursues a critical comparative analysis of the presence of the reception and translation of foreign literatures in Romantic literary magazines, from the foundation of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine until 1830. Responding to the relative neglect of the study of translation in Romantic (periodical) scholarship, the project analyses a clearly defined corpus of texts (also including The London Magazine and The New Monthly Magazine), combining methodologies of literary and translation studies, providing a critical and multifaceted view on the cross-cultural engagement of these magazines. The project builds on the increasing scholarly interest in the role played by periodicals in the knowledge economy of post-Enlightenment Britain.

Type: PhD scholarship
Duration: 2017 – 2021
Researcher: Ernest De Clerck
Supervision: Tom Toremans and Frederik Van Dam (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Funding: KU Leuven Internal Funds

Boek to book: Flanders in the transnational literary field

‘Boek to Book’ uses concepts from the sociology of translation to ask, ‘How do books from Flanders travel?’ Focusing on agents of production, it examines the people (translators, acquisitions editors, distributors, critics, national literature fund officers, rights managers, literary agents, academics, etc.), institutions (source and target publishers, national literature funds, non-profit organizations, literary prizes, etc.) and spaces (international book fairs, festivals) involved in the coming-into-being, promotion and transnational reception of translated books by Flemish authors. A central theoretical and empirical concern is the relationship between state and market agents in the world market for book translations. Taking ‘Flanders’ (e.g. Flanders Literature in its state-sanctioned role as transnational mediator) as a case study, the dissertation aims to contribute to ongoing discussions about how works from smaller European literatures cross national borders, how state agents act in a globalized book market characterized by increasing economic constraints, and how translation into English affects a work’s later production and reception trajectory, both in terms of new translations in third languages and feedback effects at home.

Type: Doctoral fellowship
Duration: 2015 – 2019
Researcher: Jack McMartin
Supervision: Elke Brems (supervisor), Reine Meylaerts (co-supervisor)

Funding: KU Leuven Impulse Fund

Eastbound. The distribution and reception of translations and adaptations of Dutch-language literature, 1850-1990

Eastbound logo

Eastbound aims to give insight into the complex mechanism of bringing literature into circulation in a transnational context, and to challenge the hierarchy between centre and periphery in literary space. The project also discusses phenomena of cultural identity change during the circulation process. The project will investigate the translation and adaptation history of frequently translated oeuvres from Flemish and Dutch literature into German, on the one hand, and into three East-Central European languages, on the other. The tracing of the international careers of Flemish and Dutch literature will provide insight into the international cultural networks and ‘trade routes’ in which the Netherlands and Flanders were involved between 1850 and 1990. The project focuses not only on textual derivatives, but also on adaptations into other media.

Type: PhD scholarship
Duration: 2017 – 2019
Researcher: Theresia Feldmann
Supervision: Elke BremsA.B.G.M. van Kalmthout (Huygens Institute Amsterdam) and Jan Ceuppens

MEMEX WWI: Recognition and resentment: memories and experiences of the Great War in Belgium. The Great War in Belgian Literature.

Type: Doctoral Research
Duration: 2013 – 2017
Researcher: Myrthel Van Etterbeeck
Supervision: Elke Brems, Reine Meylaerts
Funding: Joint project of the ULB, UCL, UGent, SOMA and KULeuven

Verzonken Grenzen. Buitenlandse vrouwelijke letterkundigen in tussenoorlogs Vlaanderen.

Type: Doctoral Research
2012 – 2017
Researcher: Dorien De Man
Supervision: Elke Brems
Funding: Special Research Fund (BOF)

La ‘renaissance’ belge de 1880 au regard de la Renaissance des XVe et XVIe siècles. Portrait d’une imitation créatrice.

Joint PhD project of the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance de Tours (CESR) and the University of Leuven.

Type: Doctoral Research
Duration: 2012 – 2016
Researcher: Stanislas Pays
Supervision: Luc Bergmans (CESR), Lieven D’hulst (Leuven)
Coordination: Martine de Clercq (CERES)

When Political Economy was Popular. The Reception of Political Economy in Britain, 1817-1847.

The aim of this project is to restore to centrality the hitherto largely neglected corpus of late-Romantic exchanges between literature and economics, and to develop from it a history of the cross-fertilisation and competition between the two fields. The principal research question is: How did (wo)men of letters receive political economy in the first half of the 19th century, and how did this prepare economics for a broader cultural reception?

Type: Postdoctoral Research
Duration: 2014 – 2015
Researcher: Brecht de Groote
Supervision: Tom Toremans, Ortwin de Graef
Funding: KU Leuven Internal Funds

“Het is niet onopgemerkt gebleven.” An International Network Studying the Circulation of Dutch Literature (CODL).

Modern research into Dutch literary culture of the past and the present requires a transnational approach. CODL (2012-2015) will help to create favourable conditions for this approach. The pilot Beatrijs Internationaal (2009-2011) created a dynamics of cooperation and exchange in the increasingly international field of Dutch Studies. With a new project we want to seize that momentum and set up a large scale European research project within an international research network. Wewill deal with the question how literary texts from a relatively small language area, like that of Dutch, circulate internationally in different periods. At the same time it will look at the possibilities and difficulties of research on international cultural transfer.

Participating Institutions: The Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (KNAW), Centre for Reception Studies (CERES, KU Leuven), Department of Dutch Studies, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest, in co-operation with COMENIUS (network of Dutch studies in Central Europe)

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Type: Research Network
Duration: 2012 – 2015
Coordination: Elke Brems

Thomas De Quincey, Aesthetic Ideology and the Translation of German Idealism

Type: Doctoral Research
Duration: 2010 – 2014
Researcher: Brecht de Groote
Supervision: Tom Toremans, Ortwin de Graef (KU Leuven)
Funding: KU Leuven Internal Funds

Transnational Cultural Transfer through French in the Low Countries during the Long 19th Century

Project in collaboration with the Department of Language and Literature of the Free University of Brussels, resulting in workshop and symposium in 2010/2011.

Type: Joint Research Project
Duration: 2009 – 2013
Coordination: Elke Brems, Hans Vandevoorde (VUB)
Funding: CERES, KU Leuven

Beatrijs internationaal. The Translations and Adaptations of the Middle Dutch “Beatrijs”

Project in collaboration with the Department of Dutch Studies Eötvös Loránd University Budapest and the Huygens Institute resulting in workshops (Balatonfüred, Brussels, Naples, Oldenburg), a conference (The Hague, 29-30 September 2011), proceedings, and some new translations.

Type: Research Network
Duration: 2009 – 2011
Coordination: Orsolya Réthelyi (Loránd Universiteit Boedapest), Remco Sleiderink (HU Brussel)
Funding: CERES, KU Leuven, KNAW, ELV and Nederlandse Taalunie

Dutch Dickens: The Flemish Reception of Charles Dickens

In collaboration with The Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe Project

Type: Joint Research Project
Duration: 2008 – 2010
Coordination: Elke Brems and Walter Verschueren
Funding: CERES, KU Leuven, British Academy

Late-Romantic opposition to the Scottish Enlightenment

Postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh University

Type: Postdoctoral research
Duration: 2007 – 2008
Researcher: Tom Toremans
Funding: postdoctoral bursary of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

Romanticism as a Dialogue between Empiricism and Idealism

Nominated fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh University

Type: Postdoctoral research
Duration: 2008 – 2008
Researcher: Tom Toremans
Funding: Flemish Research Council (FWO), Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh University