Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
OnderzoekOnderzoek Faculteit der LetterenOnderzoeksinstitutenThe Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG)Nieuws

ICOG Afternoon, autumn edition

Wanneer:do 23-11-2017 15:00 - 17:30
Waar:Omegazaal, Faculty of Philosophy

ICOG members can be found in the forgotten sections of church archives and at the digital birth places of cultural movements. They analyse poetry and international politics, protest songs and toll registers. Although the subjects of their research are diverse, ICOG members engage with overarching theoretical concepts which transgress disciplinary boundaries. How do you engage with these concepts? And how do you operationalise them? ICOG Afternoon revolves around these questions.

In five table discussions, ICOG members from various disciplines will discuss overarching concepts within the humanities.


Please register for the table discussions via the Google Form.

The tables

  • Visuality - organised by David Shim and Sandra Becker
  • Me dical Humanities - organised by Rina Knoeff and Ruben Verwaal
  • Materiality - organised by Ann-Sophie Lehmann and Nadia Baadj
  • Public Sphere - organised by Quirijn van den Hoogen, Thijs Lijster and Johan Kolsteeg
  • Solidarity - organised by Arie van Steensel

Introducing the tables


After the ICOG afternoon round table discussion on “visual culture” in January 2016, there seemed to be a broader interest among Faculty of Arts staff to engage in questions of the visual beyond the confines of disciplines and departments. This is why we think our faculty needs to facilitate such a trans-departmental dialogue for the study of visuality and visual materials. This year’s ICOG Afternoon would be a chance to discuss a wider concept of “visuality” that transcends “visual culture” and its various discipline based definitions. Studies on visuality are understood to comprise multimodal dimensions such as the material, the spatial and the aural.

Medical Humanities

Surprisingly many colleagues work on research topics related to health, medicine and society, which means that, although unbeknown to many, the Faculty of Arts is addressing the University's research focus on healthy ageing. Not only am I convinced that we could profit from each other’s work also, when we create more synergy we could make our research much better visible. Groningen is increasingly becoming a Dutch center of excellence for interdisciplinary research related to (public)health issues - it would be great if our faculty could become part of this exciting development. During the roundtable I’d like to take stock of who is doing what and look into possibilities of forming an interdisciplinary center for medical (or health?) humanities. So please, do come along to the ICOG afternoon, so we can discuss ideas and possibilities. If you can’t make it, but if are interested in this ‘health humanities’ initiative, please do get in touch.


Materiality and material culture studies have been booming and the humanities are currently experiencing a shift from general theoretical discussions of how and where and what kind of materiality should be studied towards the need for more precise approaches in and across different fields. This leads to a questioning and reappraisal of existing theoretical frameworks on the one hand and to the development and evaluation of such specific approaches on the other. Do objects really have agency? Must we differentiate between matter, materials, materiality and materialism? How is actor-network theory employed in historical studies? The latter includes innovative teaching formats (object-based teaching), the exhibition as research platform, reconstruction and re-enactment based research, as well as ethnographic methods in the humanities. The round table invites scholars to share their ideas and experiences with regard to both: theoretical precision in the materiality discourse and innovative teaching and research formats inspired by the engagement with the material world.

Public Sphere

The conceptual framing of the public sphere, from Hegel up until Habermas, has focused mainly on the national level: civil society as the middle ground between the individual and the nation state. This framing is up for discussion now that social, political and cultural issues increasingly go beyond the scope of the nation state. This forces us to re-evaluate our notion of civil society, as well as civic values and virtues. Culture and the arts seem to play an increasingly important role to think of national, local/regional and/or transnational (European, global) identities. Also, it raises questions about the possibility of a transnational public sphere, which is crucial for democratic deliberation, and about the role of the arts and culture in such a transnational public sphere.


The idea of social solidarity was coined by nineteenth-century French thinkers who sought to answer the question as to what keeps modern society together. Subsequently, solidarity gained a secular meaning in the context of the nation state, which increasingly facilitated the redistribution of income across different sections of society and between different generations. Historians and sociologists appear to acknowledge that the boundaries, sources and goals of solidarity evolve over time, whatever definition of solidarity they accept. Whereas the nation state, for instance, replaced traditional bonds of solidarity, processes of globalisation and growing cultural diversity now undermine the foundations of the welfare state. Thus, the concept of (social) solidarity is worth discussing, since it cuts across disciplines, but also ties together experiences from the past with today’s challenges.