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How to find us dr. J.M.L. (Jeanette) den Toonder

dr. J.M.L. den Toonder

Senior Lecturer / Director Centre for Canadian Studies
dr. J.M.L. den Toonder

Current projects

Iranian Women’s Writing in Europe

Elaborating on my research developed in the Beyond Horizons group and U4, which includes Franco-Iranian female authors, I am preparing a research proposal on 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 adopt a critical distance towards their home country. 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.


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.

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.

First Nations Literature in Canada

Indigenous Studies have increasingly gained interest in Canadian university programs, and research focusing on First Nations literature has evolved since the early 1990s with seminal studies such as Penny Petrone's Native Literature in Canada. From the Oral Tradition to the Present (1990) and Diane Boudreau's Histoire de la littérature amérindienne au Québec (1993). This emerging literature offers an important ‘counter-voice’ with regard to the traditional dichotomy separating Anglophone and Francophone Canada. Young First Nations authors manifest themselves by publishing in a variety of genres, including the novel, the number one genre read and studied in the literary field. This literature seems therefore to be also responsible for a new dynamics in the Canadian literary field. 


Indigenous Female Writing: (Re)defining Indigenous Identities in Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau’s Ourse bleue (2007). The World Needs More Canada? Radboud University Nijmegen, June 15-16, 2017.

Kuessipan de Naomi Fontaine. Un livre qui « atteint sa cible au plein cœur ». Maladies of the Soul, Emotions, Affect. Maladies de l’âme, émotion, affect. Banff Centre, Canada, September 22-25, 2016.

Difference and Sameness in First Nations Literature in Canada. Cultural Diversity and Intersectionality, Centre for Gender Studies, Groningen, May 7, 2013. 

The intertwining of the particular and the universal in First Nations Literature. Possibilities of transcultural dialogue in The Pale Indian, Monkey Beach and Truth & Bright Water. TransCanada 3, Literature, Institutions and Citizenship, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, July 16-19, 2009.


Écriture autochtone au féminin: Savoirs affectifs et valeurs relationnelles dans Kuessipan de Naomi Fontaine. In M. Carrière, U. Mathis-Moser, K. Dobson (Ed.), All the Feels / Tous les sens. Affect and Writing in Canada / Affect et écriture au Canada. Alberta: The University of Alberta Press. 2021: 183-202.

Narrative Dynamics of Liminality in Naomi Fontaine's Kuessipan (2011). In S. L. Brandt (Ed.), In-Between - Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Cultures. (Canadiana; Vol. 20). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2017: 133-146.

Nouvelles perspectives sur l'écriture féminine au Québec: Liens familiaux, voyages et souvenirs dans Ourse bleue (2007) et Ru (2009). Interculturel Francophonies 32, 2017: 69-88.

Traditie en Moderniteit in First Nations Literatuur in Canada, Vooys: instituutsblad van het Instituut De Vooys voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 31(2), 2013: 6-18.

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:24 September 2021 2.48 p.m.

Contact information

Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26
9712 EK Groningen
The Netherlands

Department of European Languages and Cultures

Job title:
Senior Lecturer

Centre for Canadian Studies

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