The department of Dutch Studies has four research specializations:
- Dutch Linguistics
- Historical Dutch Literature
- Modern Dutch Literature
- Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric
Studying Dutch at the UvA means taking an interest in language dynamics. Primary and secondary language acquisition play an important part in the processes of language change; how and why do language acquisition processes have an effect on this transformation? These are the main questions dealt with in both our research and education. The dynamics of the Dutch language become apparent from the variation we encounter inside language boundaries. Our research concerns itself with the types of patterns that can be discovered within this variation, and what these patterns reveal about human language capacity.
Historical Dutch Literature
At Historical Dutch Literature the onus is on texts which date from the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (1100-1800). Literature is explored in the broadest sense, and a special emphasis placed on the socio-historical embedding of texts and the function of literary elements. The approach is interdisciplinary and cultural-historical. The newest digital possibilities are hereby employed for performing large scale tests.
Modern Dutch Literature
Literary texts are never solitary entities, mainly because context determines what we may or may not call ‘literature’ and because authors and texts are continuously connected to a broader society; whether it concerns Multatuli’s response to the exploitation of the Javanese or the postmodern novels of Charlotte Mutsaers. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to map out the different functions of literature. Philosophy, cultural sociology, political theory and media theory all play a vital role in our research and education.
Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory and Rhetoric
In the field of speech communication, research is done into the way people use language for different purposes. At the UvA the emphasis is placed on the exploration of argumentation, whereby the initial focus is on the manner in which the persuasion process occurs in practice. For example: how does a politician convince his electorate, or a doctor his patients? Also examined are the requirements that argumentation should meet in order to be deemed reasonable. An answer to these questions is provided by using theories about language use, persuasion, style and rules of discourse.