Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Practical matters How to find us dr. J.M.L. (Jeanette) den Toonder

dr. J.M.L. (Jeanette) den Toonder

Assistant Professor / Director Centre for Canadian Studies
Profile picture of dr. J.M.L. (Jeanette) den Toonder

Current projects

Iranian Women’s Writing in Europe

Iranian women writers from the Diaspora have been very prolific in the first two decades of the 21st century and their decision to not only become writers, but to also write in the language of their adopted country, choosing genres such as the novel and the short story, has enabled them to write critically about cultural conflicts and encounters. In their work, exile is often considered as empowerment, even if the feeling of displacement also conceptualizes loss and disillusionment. This project proposes to move beyond the more mainstream topics that have been examined in relation to exile literature such as homelessness, identity crises and in-betweenness, coming-of-age memoirs and nostalgia, and to adopt an intersectional approach that will enable to examine the dynamics of empowerment resulting from the recognition of multiple and interlocking influences. Thus, the image of the eroticized Oriental woman being a victim of patriarchal heritage will be replaced by a new model of womanhood reclaiming strength and agency. Several studies have been published on the works of a number of well-known female authors, mostly from the perspective of U.S. Iranian Diaspora writing. Within the European context research is limited, particularly from a comparative perspective. The corpus will therefore consist of post-revolutionary novels published in Europe in the 21st century and written in English, German, French and Dutch. The comparative approach will examine works that to date have been understudied by intersecting the categories of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, family, religion and nationality. The dual approach of comparison and intersectionality will exhibit Iranian women’s agency as a cultural response to transnational dispersals and will illustrate the liberating power of literature as a form of soft power transforming stereotypical images of subservience, eroticization and exclusion.


Hopeful Alternative Narratives or How to Use Difference Productively. An Analysis of Iranian Women’s Writing in Europe. XI Graduate Conference in Culture Studies, The Cultural Politics of Hope, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon, December 2-4, 2021.

Migratory Feminism, Francophone Female Voices from Iranian Descent. Summer School Beyond Horizons. Migrant and Minority Literature. Transmitting and Writing New Identities, University of Groningen. August 15-20, 2021.

Exile, Identity and the Female Body in Franco-Iranian Women’s Writing. Society for French Studies Virtual Conference, June 28-30, 2021.

Migrant Bodies and Cultural Transfer: How Narratives of Migration Counter Cultural Stereotypes. Enlight on-line Colloquium Translation as Transfer of Cultural Images, Department of Translation Studies, University of Tartu. May 11, 2021.

Iranian Women’s Writing in Europe. Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics, University of Groningen, October 22, 2020.

Travel writing and exile in Négar Djavadi’s Désorientale (2016). U4 Workshop Concepts and Tools in Cultural Transfer Research. Case: Travel Writing. Georg-August-University Göttingen, May 16-17, 2019.

Liminality, Language and Identity in Chahdortt Djavann’s novel Comment peut-on être français? (2006). U4 Workshop Whose side are you on? Border crossing, rites of passage, and liminal experiences in literature. University of Ghent, October 27-28, 2016.


Writing in the Feminine: Identity, Language and Intercultural Dialogue in Chahdortt Djavann's Comment peut-on être français? (2006). DiGeSt Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 5(2), 2018: 7-21. Link

Migrantenliteratuur in Frankrijk: van transnationale naar transculturele identiteit. With Annique Garnier. Vooys: instituutsblad van het Instituut De Vooys voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 34(1-2), 2016: 76-86.

Collaborative projects

Human Mobility and Migration Lab

This research group is part of the Democracy & Governance Theme of the Agricola School of Sustainable Development and has been active since early 2022. The group consists of specialists from different fields that together consider the impacts of human mobility and migration on communities and aim to reconcile divergent interests in and approaches to the topic by fostering exchange and identifying new approaches that will lead to sustainable solutions to challenges that contemporary diverse societies face. The lab brings together specialists from a variety of disciplines, developing ideas for interdisciplinary research, teaching and outreach activities, based on a comparative approach with (existing and new) Canadian, European and U.S. partners. Two events were organised in 2020, a panel discussion on the War in Ukraine, The Humanitarian Perspective (March 15) and a living room conversation giving voice to the Ukrainian refugee Natalia (November 1). In order to further develop its research project the Lab received seed money from the Incentive Fund for Interdisciplinary Research from the UG in June 2022 (€ 9,000).

Cultural Transfer Studies in the Humanities (Part of ICOG Research Group Arts in Society)

This research group, that has been active since 2008 (first introduced under the name Beyond Horizons in Cultural Transfer Studies), brings together colleagues working in the fields of cultural transfer, translation studies, migrant and minority literatures and transculturality. From 2014 until 2019, it participated in the U4 network collaborating with the Universities of Ghent, Göttingen and Uppsala. Since 2020, the group is part of the European university network Enlight. Within the U4 network, four workshops were organised at the four universities. To date these have resulted in two book publications and one special issue. A fourth edited volume on cultural transfer and travel writing is in preparation. Two workshops have been organised within the Enlight network, Translation as Transfer of Cultural Images (May 11, 2021, on-line) by the University of Tartu, Estonia and The Tangibility of Translation (September 30, 2022) at the University of Galway, Ireland.


Petra Broomans, Mathijs Sanders, & Jeanette den Toonder (Eds.). Literary Prizes and Cultural Transfer. Groningen: Barkhuis Publishing (Studies on Cultural Transfer & Transmission 8), 2021.

DiGeSt Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 5(2), 2018.

Margaretha Fahlgren, & Anna Williams (Eds.). The Dynamics and Contexts of Cultural Transfers (Vol. 72). Uppsala: Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen Uppsala universitet, 2017.

Previous project

Alfa Meerwaarde Shared Literature

In the project Shared Literature: cultural transfer in reading groups that was rewarded an NWO Added Value Grant (Sept. 2014-Sept. 2015), I have collaborated with Dr. Sandra van Voorst (Contemporary Dutch Literature), Dr. Petra Broomans (Contemporary Swedish Literature) and Drs. Saskia Visser (Science Shop Language, Culture & Communication) in order to focus on the role of the reader in reading groups. In collaboration with three partner organisations, Stichting Senia and the Public Libraries of Groningen and Eemland, we have been able to reach large numbers of readers. Students participating in our Interdisciplinary Master course (2014-2015) have conducted research on a variety of topics, resulting in academic papers published on the website of the Science Shop Language, Culture and Communication. 

Research output:

Huizinga Institute, Research Institute and Graduate School of Cultural History, Research Master Course "Cultures of Reading": "A Case of Valorisation: Cultuuroverdracht door Leesgroepen", University of Amsterdam, June 10, 2016.

Symposium Shared Literature, "Cultuuroverdracht in leesgroepen: hoe werkt dat?", in collaboration with Saskia Visser (Science Shop Language, Culture & Communication) and Dr. S. van Voorst (Contemporary Dutch Literature), Amersfoort, October 9, 2015.

Ravenstein Seminar, "Added Value Grant Shared Literature. Cultural Transfer in Reading Groups", in collaboration with Dr. S. van Voorst (Contemporary Dutch Literature), University of Amsterdam, January 21, 2015.

den Toonder, J., van Voorst S., Visser S. (2017). "Cultural Transfer in Reading Groups. From Theory to Practice and Back. Research for All 1(1). 52-63. DOI: 10.18546/RFA01.1.05

van Voorst, S. (2016). "Gedeelde literatuur. Lezen in leesgroepen anno 2015". Jaarboek voor Nederlandse Boekgeschiedenis 23. 137-156.

van Voorst, S & Visser, S. (ed.) (2015). Gedeelde Literatuur: Cultuuroverdracht in leesgroepen. Groningen: Barkhuis Publishing.

Last modified:21 December 2022 10.46 p.m.