Past events

WOLEC. On 14 January 2016 Bram Lambrecht (KU Leuven) will give a talk on: "Ik, jij, wij. De morele exemplariteit van Alice Nahons poëzie”.

In zijn lezing presenteert hij eerst beknopt de algemene lijnen van zijn promotieonderzoek over de encyclopedische, morele en artistieke autoriteit van middlebrow-literatuur uit het Nederlandse taalgebied tijdens het interbellum. Vervolgens spitst hij zich toe op een van zijn casussen: het kleine poëtische oeuvre van de populaire tussenoorlogse dichteres Alice Nahon. De centrale these van Brams presentatie luidt dat Nahons gedichten een veelzijdige morele – en vooral emotionele – autoriteit (willen) vervullen en dat het affectieve ethos van het lyrisch subject daarbij garant staat voor de geloofwaardigheid van die boodschap. De constructie van de identiteit en morele autoriteit van het lyrisch ik en de retorische technieken die daarbij worden aangewend, staan centraal in de analyse. Die wordt gestuurd door theoretische concepten als ‘exemplariteit’ (Bouju e.a. 2007, David 2010, Giavarini 2008) en ‘ethos’ (Amossy 2009 en 2010, Korthals Altes 2014).

The lecture will take place in room 5.C.402 on the VUB Etterbeek Campus, from 12 am till 1.30 pm. A small lunch will be provided. Participation is free, but please send an e-mail to Elke.Depreter@vub.ac.be or Thomas.Thoelen@vub.ac.be to confirm your presence. 


WOLEC. On 19 November 2015 Claus Peter Neumann (Universidad de Zaragoza) gave a talk on: "Loving the Goat: Edward Albee’s The Goat; or, Who is Sylvia as representative American tragedy”.

Edward Albee’s play The Goat; or, Who is Sylvia has been interpreted as examining the boundaries of love and passion (Billington), as a challenge to Raymond Williams’s concept of liberal tragedy and, thus, to liberalism in general (Robinson), or as a modern-day version of Greek tragedy, the goat representing the Dionysian force of desire (Davin, Kuhn). Given the play’s subtitle (Notes toward a Definition of Tragedy), it is only to be expected that the last group yield the most convincing arguments. However, although these authors point out the play’s many evocations of Greek tragedy, they neglect the fact that the play is also full of metarepresentational moments that call attention to the play as a representation to an audience. In addition, the authors treat the play in universal terms. Thus, Kuhn reads it as representing “the amazing variety and range of humanity” (30). However, the references in the play are specifically American: the protagonist is a famous (fictional) American architect who is supposed to design a whole city in the American West, whstich, of course, evokes John Winthrop’s image of America as a city on a hill, a virtuous model that other countries would have to follow. 

Against this background, this presentation reads Albee’s play as a comment on American theatre (and, by extension, culture) in general. In fact, desire, represented by the Dionysian elements evoked by the play’s title and metatheatrical references, runs through the history of American theatre from George Cram Cooke’s and Susan Glaspell’s Supressed Desires (1915) to O’Neill’s Desire under the Elms (1924) and Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) – both of which, like Albee’s play, represent reworkings of Greek tragedies – to Tennessee Williams’s many plays on the issue in the 40s and 50s, to Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love (1983), to name only the most famous ones. In most of these plays, like in Albee’s, desire turns out to be a destructive force. Albee’s The Goat, on the surface a realistic family play (the main staple of American theatre), pinpoints desire as almost an obsession in American theatre. To explain this obsession we have to turn to Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, which posits Greek tragedy as a tension between the Dionysian forces, on the one hand, and what Nietzsche calls the Apollonian forces, which represent the human aspiration towards a higher goal of individual refinement and significance (Nietzsche 37). This aspiration is the same as the one contained in the concept of Winthrop’s City on a Hill and reflects American self-conception as a project of continual self-improvement, as proposed early on in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. Albee’s play, thus, becomes a comment on the conflict between the Dionysian and the Apollonian forces that lie at the heart of American theatre, culture and self-conception, turning the play into a quintessentially American tragedy.

 The lecture took place in room 5.C.406 on the VUB Etterbeek Campus, from 12 am till 1.30 pm. 


On 6 October 2015 professor Birgit Neumann (Universität Düsseldorf) presented her research on ‘Postcolonial Ekphrasis and Counter-Visions in Derek Walcott’s Tiepolo’s Hound – Contact Zones, Contests and Translations’.

"My talk sets out to investigate visual practices in Derek Walcott’s long poem Tiepolo’s Hound, illustrating how an engagement with verbal-visual relations might add to our understanding of postcolonial aesthetics and reading experiences. I argue that the evocation of Eurocentric visual practices and their transfer into postcolonial literatures constitutes an act of intermedial and transcultural translation, which both acknowledges the influence of imposed models and subjects them to creative processes of ex-change. Verbal-visual relations open up a site of in-between-ness, a site of contact, contest and translation, which inform practices of cultural transformation. Seen from this perspective, text-image-configurations are central to what the French philosopher Jacques Rancière (2004, 13) called the “distribution of the sensible”, understood as “the system of a priori forms determining what presents itself to sense experience.” Accordingly, verbal-visual relations may intervene in the social fabric of existing medial configurations, reworking them in a way that allows readers to experience, see and imagine the world differently."

The lecture took place in room 5.C.402 (Profzaal) on the VUB Etterbeek Campus, from 1 till 2.30 pm. 


On Tuesday 21 April, CLIC-member Janine Hauthal held a WOLEC lecture on 'Fictions of Europe: Transnational Discourses in Contemporary British Literature'.

When: 21 April 2015, 12 am till 1.30 pm

Where: Etterbeek Campus VUB, room 5.C.402 (Profzaal)


Prof. Enrico Testa (Università di Genova) held the Cattedra Emile Lorand 2014-2015 for Italian Studies and teached a four day seminar from 23 until 26 March 2015 on varieties of literary language in the work of Italian novelists and poets since World War II.

Click here to see the flyer (in Italian and Dutch).


On Friday 27 March, Nele Wynants (ULB/UA) gave a WOLEC seminar (in Dutch) on ‘Philosophical Toys: Optical illusion at Play in Theatre and Performance’. 

"The concept of play is not only indispensable to any questioning of theatrical aesthetics, but also affects decisive tendencies in the development of science and the cultural history of scientific experimentation. Designed to trick the mind, optical instruments such as mirrors, camera obscura’s and magic lanterns functioned as ‘philosophical toys’ or ‘objects to think with’. The latter concept is media artist Zoë Beloff’s, who refers to a variety of optical toys, kinetic toys and jouets séditieux that originated in the early nineteenth century, a period marked by increasing scientific interest in exploring the relationship between vision and perception. These instruments were found to have a popular as well as a scientific attraction. Contemporary performance and media artists show a remarkable interest in these old or obsolete optical media. By experimenting with these visual media, they playfully explore the potentialities and limits of perception thereby examining how ‘seeing’ works in today’s mediatized environment. Optical devices in the work of Benjamin Vandewalle, Julien Maire and Zoë Beloff can thus be considered contemporary incarnations of the ‘philosophical toy’. This paper will discuss how these contemporary optical performances continue a scientific tradition of scopic inquiry which tended to make a spectacle of its own experiments in which scientific and aesthetic approaches intersect."

More information can be found here.

When: 27 March 2015, 12 am till 1.30 pm

Where: Etterbeek Campus VUB, room 5.C.402 (Profzaal)


Prof. Marie-Agnès Palaisi-Robert (Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès) holds the Catedra Emile Lorand 2014-2015 for Spanish Studies. She teached a four day seminar on the Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza from 24 until 27 February 2015. Click here to see the flyer (in Spanish and Dutch). 


CLIC research partners THALIA, CLIV and SEL organised a seminar (in Dutch) on Friday 27 February, on the theatre production Empedokles by Theater Zuidpool. Speakers included CLIC members Claire Swyzen and Gys-Walt Van Egdom. Click here to see the programme.

When? Friday, 27 February 2015, 10.00 am until 12.30 pm

Where? Foyer Theaterzaal Vooruit, Ghent

How?  To participate, please send an e-mail to simon.leenknegt@ugent.be, and indicate 'inschrijving Empedokles' in the subject line


The annual symposium of the Centre for Literature, Intermediality and Culture (CLIC) took place on 12 December 2014. This year’s edition focused on the interrelations between music and literature. In his keynote speech, Prof. Bruno Forment (SKAR, VUB/UGent) talked about the purposes certain stereotypical settings – gardens, prisons, temples/churches – served in opera and how those same settings affected literary genres such as the novel. Contributions by other speakers explored the relationship between music and literature from a more theoretical perspective and through specific case studies. These included operas based on a nineteenth-century Italian novel, a recent Oscar-nominated Belgian film as well as a 1993 dance production featuring music by Elvis Presley and Maurice Ravel.

Click here to see the poster.

When? Friday, 12 December 2014, 9.45 am until 4.30 pm

Where? VUB Campus Etterbeek, D2.01