For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

Stephan Besser (senior lecturer Modern Dutch Literature, ASCA) has been selected for a stay at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS-KNAW) in Amsterdam. The Fellowship allows Stephan to work on his project ‘The Promise of Patterns: On the Poetics of Regularity in 21st Century Human Sciences’ for a period of ten months in the academic year 2020-21.

The project

The project examines the current fascination with patterns in the arts and human sciences, in particular in literary studies, cognitive science, cultural analytics and the history of knowledge. In a series of case studies, Besser studies the preconditions of a newly emerging discourse of patterns in these fields, such as digitization and epistemic shifts towards morphology, cognition and the brain. He analyses key elements of the rhetoric and poetics of this discourse and asks: How do ‘patterns’ facilitate cross-mappings of different domains (the social, the biological etc.), how do they create order and regularity and how do they support techniques and fantasies of control?


Besser will become part of a carefully selected community of about sixty scholars, artists and writers. He was selected by an external review process on the basis of the quality and innovative value of the research proposal. The success rate of NIAS fellowships is about ten percent.

NIAS – one of the institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) – provides a physical and intellectual space for advanced research in the humanities and social sciences that is driven by curiosity and cross-discipline collaboration. It offers temporary fellowships to international and Dutch scholars. NIAS is located in Amsterdam.

Dr. S. (Stephan) Besser

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Nederlandse Letterkunde