On Friday 25 April 2014, Gillis Dorleijn received Royal Decoration. He has been appointed Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
Gillis Dorleijn (1951), professor of Modern Dutch Literature at the University of Groningen since 1986, is renowned in his field for the breadth of his theoretical and methodological orientation and his wide knowledge of modern Dutch literature, particularly poetry. His work combines in an exceptional way extremely careful hands-on work in the best philological tradition with unorthodox but clear ideas about contemporary cultural life and the position of literature and literary studies in that life. He combines theoretical models and new insights about literature and literary and cultural life both within the Netherlands and abroad. He does all of this in a particularly stimulating and inspiring way. The lines of thought set out by Dorleijn have fundamentally influenced his field.
The publications of the poems by Leopold and Nijhoff are classics of their kind. They are considered to be the best possible historical-critical editions and Dorleijn has earned international recognition with them. His edition of Het land van herkomst by E. du Perron is also renowned.
Within the field of Dutch Studies, Dorleijn introduced the method of empirical fieldwork as described by the French philosopher Pierre Boudrieu. On this basis he designed and led the extensive NWO programme De impact van literatuuropvattingen in het literaire veld [The impact of perceptions of literature in the literary field]. His research on publishing houses, critics and authors in the Netherlands and Flanders is known as the best in its field. He has also made a major contribution to the theory formation of author interviews. He is one of the founders of the productive, interuniversity research group OLITH, which studies the interaction between modernism and antimodernism.
Thanks to his wide, interdisciplinary knowledge and his administrative qualities, Dorleijn has played and still plays an active role within NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. In 2008 he became a member of the Humanities Division and in 2012 he was made its chair. In that role he represents the interests of the Humanities both within and outside the organization in an outstanding way, with great dedication and conviction.
Dorleijn is a frequent speaker at international conferences on Dutch Studies, or a referee at colloquia and academic gatherings in Flanders and the German-speaking regions. In 2003 he was appointed a foreign honorary member of the Royal Academy of Dutch language and literature in Ghent (Belgium) in recognition of his academic achievements.
Dorleijn also performs his teaching duties in an exemplary fashion. He is an outstanding lecturer, with a vast knowledge of his field, both stimulating and inspiring his students. His approach is interdisciplinary, and many other programmes outside Dutch make welcome use of his talents.
Thanks to his enormous knowledge of the field of modern and contemporary literature, particularly poetry, Dorleijn has made a significant contribution to the spread of knowledge of Dutch literature by sitting on numerous juries for literary prizes (including the PC Hooft Prize and the VSB Poetry Prize), and on committees with the same goal in mind.
Dorleijn has also played a major role in the initiative to link the University to the literary world. He was the driving force behind the initiation of the Groningen Guest Writer and Groningen Guest Critic programmes, which enable students to come into contact with the real literary world. A by-product that benefits all of Groningen and environs are the public lectures given by the Guest Writer and Guest Critic. Dorleijn is always willing and able to impart his knowledge in a clear, convincing and stimulating way to a wide audience, including non-academics.
Alongside his busy academic career, Dorleijn has managed to find time to play the piano to a professional level. He remains a very down-to-earth and modest person.
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