I am an assistant professor of Modern Dutch Literature and Literary Studies at the University of Amsterdam and member of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). I currently serve as coordinator of the Research Master's programme in Literary Studies at the UvA and as a series editor of the book series Experimental Practices: Encounters across Arts, Sciences and Humanities (Brill). I've been managing director of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL) and was a research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in 2020-21.
My research interests include literature & science, poetics of knowledge, cognitive literary studies, literary representations of labor and creativity and contemporary Dutch literature. I welcome PhD proposals in these fields.
The Allure of Patterns: Exploring a 21st Century Figure of Knowledge
This research project investigates the emergence of pattern as a key symbolic form and worldview of the (post)digital age. In a 2008 WIRED article Chris Anderson infamously predicted that digitization and big data would soon make scientific theory obsolete since large computing clusters can “find patterns where science cannot.” Intriguingly, however, patterns now increasingly acquire symbolic meaning that points far beyond the mere flattening out of theory and interpretative depth into large scale statistical empiricism. This project explores the new pattern aesthetics and its epistemic and ideological implications in contemporary works of art and literature and the human sciences. Related publications:
Worlding the Brain: Neurocentrism, Cognition and the Challenge of the Arts and Humanities
Moving beyond the neurohype of recent decades, this book introduces the concept of worlding as a new way to understand the inherent entanglement of brains/minds with their worldly environments, cultural practices, and social contexts. Case studies ranging from film, literature, music, and dance to pedagogy, historical trauma, and present-day discourses of mindfulness investigate how brains are worlded in an active interplay of biological, cognitive, and socio-discursive factors. Combining scholarly work with personal accounts of neurodiversity and essays by artists reflecting on their practical engagement with cognition, Worlding the Brain makes a case for the distinctive role of the humanities and arts in the study of brains and cognition and explores novel forms interdisciplinarity.
Pathographie der Tropen: Literatur, Medizin und Kolonialismus um 1900
Offering the first critical account of medical tropicality in German (post)colonial studies, this book analyzes the representation of the tropics as a space of disease and madness in Wilhelmine colonial culture. It includes chapters on the construction of 'Tropenkoller' (violent tropical neurasthenia) in colonial literature and politics, the representation of 'tropical fever' in medical literature and works of fiction such as Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (1924) and expressionist short stories, tropicalist metaphors in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and intersecting discourses of tropical and racial 'hygiene' that prefigured ideologies and politics of racial purity in Nazi Germany.