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DemCP colloquium - JESSE VAN AMELSVOORT (University of Groningen): "Connective Fictions"

When:We 15-12-2021 16:00 - 18:00
Where:Collaboratory A, Harmonie Building

Research colloquium of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics

Jesse van Amelsvoort, University of Groningen, Connective Fictions


There is a strong intellectual tradition that claims literature brings more than aesthetic pleasure only, but is in fact a special kind of knowledge (e.g., Miner 1976, Nussbaum 1990, Swirski 2007, Gibson 2009, Peels 2020). Literature is said to foster empathy, or act as a playground where hypotheses can be tested and lives lived differently. In this paper, I take the argument that literature is a form of thought into dialogue with ongoing discussions on the public sphere. Building on Habermas’ (1962) seminal work, public sphere theorists have worked to bring into view how media act as a forum for deliberation on matters of common concern (see Couldry and Hepp 2017). Literature is not usually included in these discussions but should be.

I make a case for what I call “connective fictions”: stories that embed the small within the large, the private within the political, the near within the far, and the local within the global; that connect these seemingly contrasting poles; that show their enmeshments. As such, they differ from what has been called “the novelization of the global” (Siskind 2010), the “plot of globalization” (Beecroft 2015), and the “global novel” (Ganguly 2016, 2020). Connective fictions do not feature a multi-sited plot, nor do they always contain reflections on events of global significance. Rather, they excavate localized, situated, and everyday engagements with the interconnections that are ubiquitous to life in the twenty-first century.

About the speaker

Jesse van Amelsvoort, PhD, is a lecturer in modern European literature at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on the social role and function of literature in contemporary society, and on literature as a form of knowledge. Specifically, his interests are in environmental humanities, postcolonial studies, theories of world literature, minority studies, and European studies. He has published in Tulsa Studies in Women’s LiteratureGlobal PerspectivesDutch Crossing and Politique européenne, and is currently co-editing a special issue for parallax on “Imagining Communities, Multilingually.” In 2021, he defended his dissertation and published Loft and lân. Gesprekken over Tsjêbbe Hettinga (‘Sky and Land. Conversations on Tsjêbbe Hettinga’).