ALCS Undergraduate Dissertation Prize and Essay Prize 2022

Congratulations to the winners of the ALCS Prizes 2022!

This year’s ALCS UG Dissertation prize went to Gemma Blacker (University of Sheffield). The ALCS Essay Prize was awarded to Lydia Cope (University of Sheffield).

Gemma Blacker — Toon Tellegen’s Transnational Transfer: How a Dutch Author Crossed International, Linguistic, and Gender Boundaries

Toon Tellegen (1941), Dutch author and poet who specialises in children’s literature, has been publishing works since 1984. A best-seller and one of the Netherlands’ most-translated authors, Tellegen has won countless awards and is heralded as a “genius” for his philosophical animal stories, covering topics from friendship to greed, low self-esteem to loneliness. Whilst Tellegen has been, and continues to be, a great success abroad, his work is of particular interest in Russia. Of the 30 different languages in which Tellegen’s work has been published, Russian has the highest number of translations and is responsible for 15% of all translations of his work. Considering Dutch provides just under 1% of the world’s source of translated titles, this number of translations into Russian from a single author is striking.

Blacker’s dissertation aims to uncover the reasons for Tellegen’s successful transnational transfer to Russia and establish the links between two geographically, linguistically and culturally very distinct countries. Specifically, it focuses on the following questions: Who have been the main actors in Tellegen’s successful transnational transfer to Russia? What is the role of the translator and how has the Russian language influenced her decisions in her depictions of gender?  How can Tellegen be compared to comparatively-popular Russian children’s authors in their depictions of stereotypical gender roles?

Lydia Cope — How the sense of belonging to a nation is shaped and mediated through family ties in Johan Fretz’s Onder de Paramariboom

In Lydia Cope’s essay we see to what extent the sense of belonging to a nation is shaped and mediated through blood ties. Through an analysis of Johan Fretz’s novel Onder de Paramariboom (2018), Cope argues that the concept of ‘nation’ is complex: it is not synonymous with ‘country’ but is rather a mental construct, much deeper and more personal in meaning. The novel’s protagonist, Johannes Fretz, demonstrates this idea on his journey in self-discovery. Born and raised in the Netherlands, he had always rejected his association with Suriname, the birthplace of his mother, and regarded himself as a Dutchman. However, on turning twenty-nine he finally decides to visit Suriname, where his mother is finally given the opportunity to share her culture as well as introduce her son to other Surinamese relatives. Here, Johannes gradually starts to identify with his mother, grandfather Miel and his father, all of whom have a great influence on Johannes and his perceptions of nation both directly and indirectly.



14th ALCS Conference 10-12 July in Edinburgh


14th ALCS Conference 10-12 July 2022

University of Edinburgh

For the 14th ALCS Biennial Conference at the University of Edinburgh we are homing in on home in a Low Countries context.

Home is the story of who we are and such a deeply familiar place that it is almost impossible to see it with the eyes of an outsider. We are steeped into home as an idea, a concept, an ideal expressed through objects and representations. After a pandemic in which home gained new prominence, we would like to home in on understanding, remembering, (re)creating, searching for, (re)finding, (re)discovering, challenging, celebrating, home as an idea(l) and as a physical place. This was our Call for Papers


The (draft) programme of the 14th ALCS Conference 10-12 July 2022


Keynote speakers:

Malgorzata Drwal (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań) 
Jan Willem Duyvendak
(NIAS-KNAW and University of Amsterdam) 
Esther Mijers
(University of Edinburgh)
Olivia Rutazibwa (London School of Economics)

More information about registration and accommodation to follow soon.

Selected papers from the conference will be published in the ALCS Journal: Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies

Contact for the Edinburgh Conference:

All general enquiries:

ALCS Zomercursus at the University of Edinburgh

We are proud to announce the first edition of the ALCS Summer School for students of Dutch in the UK and Ireland. From 3 – 8 July 2022 we will offer a week of language sessions,  events and workshops. The Summer School is kindly supported by de Nederlandse Taalunie.

The theme of our summer school is Hoge Landen, Lage landen because we will explore cultural, political and economic links between Scotland and the Low Countries in addition to the daily language sessions.

Are you a student of Dutch with at least CEFRA A1+ experience? Then this may be something for you. More details and how to enrol is available on Hoge Landen, Lage Landen.

Screenshot 2022-03-08 at 16.41.15

ALCS Essay Prizes 2021

Congratulations to the winners of the ALCS Essay Prize 2021!

Postgraduate/Early Career Prize

Irving Wolters (UCL)
Irving Wolters (UCL)

Bibliotheca Neerlandica

The winner of the Postgraduate/Early Career Prize is Irving Wolters from UCL, with his essay ‘Genesis of the Canon of Dutch Literature: The Bibliotheca Neerlandica?’

Although the canon of Dutch literature was not officially digitalized until 2002, this paper presents a view that a Dutch initiative in the 1950s and 60s may have been a genesis of canon building through translation sixty years ahead of its time.In the 1950s the Dutch government established an organisation called the Stichting ter Bevordering van de Vertaling van Nederlands Letterkundig Werk. This foundation was served by a commissioning body whose role it was to consider and select titles available to them from the Netherlands and Flanders. Irvin uses minutes of the commissioning body’s meetings obtained from the Letterkundig Museum in The Hague to research this. 

This year there were two winners of the Undergraduate Prize: Megan Strutt from the University of Sheffield and Anna Mihlic from UCL.

Megan Strutt (Sheffield)
Megan Strutt (Sheffield)

Guus Kuijer

In Megan’s essay, ‘Emancipation, Power and Religion in Guus Kuijer’s Het boek van alle dingen’, we see the tensions between tradition and modernity in the Orthodox-Protestant family of Kuijer’s nine-year-old protagonist, Thomas Klopper. Although the typical 1950’s family is often referred to as exemplary of ‘family values’, with women perceived as “mothers and homemakers”,  there were also discernible murmurings of women’s liberation at the time; hints of the second wave of feminism that was to emerge in the sixties.

Kuijer’s text explores the effects of a changing societal mood on Thomas’s fundamentally religious family, and Megan’s paper considers how this is represented through the relationship between the themes of emancipation and power.

Language Attitudes in Wallonia

Anna Mihlic (UCL)
Anna Mihlic (UCL)

In Anna’s essay, ‘Language Attitudes in Wallonia towards English and Dutch’, we see how languages in Belgium have an important symbolic value, which is linked to the social, economic, political and cultural history of the country and to the contemporary division into different regions. In this paper she explores the attitudes towards and the values associated with Dutch and English as foreign languages among university students in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Reflecting on previous literature, Anna’s research examines the following questions: How do language attitudes towards Dutch and English differ in Wallonia? What are the implicit and explicit attitudes towards the two languages and to what extent do these differ?

Catholic Print in the Dutch Republic: A Low Countries Enterprise

Elise WatsonElise Watson, PhD Candidate University of St Andrews, received an ALCS grant to visit a number of archives in Antwerp. She reports on her research.

“In March 2020, I set out on a tour of Dutch archives in order to study a group of people whose activities outside of home and in public spaces were increasingly restricted, leading to the development of a wide variety of media to be consumed at home, made in order to take the place of public activities that were no longer possible. Sound familiar?

While this connection may be tenuous, COVID-19 has not stopped me from pursuing my doctoral thesis, researching printing for the Roman Catholic community in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. In this period, Catholics made up a substantial proportion of the population in the Northern Netherlands, but were forced to subsist in the margins, as any form of public worship was banned and they were disallowed from holding public office or using public funds.

However, they maintained a robust print culture, either printing or importing everything the community needed, from single-sheet devotional prints to Vulgate Bibles. My project aims to document how the Catholic community obtained and used this print, and how it impacted their experience as a religious subculture. As much of the Catholic print in the North was imported from the Southern Netherlands, and many residents of the Dutch Republic still saw themselves as part of a unified Belgium, this is very much a project that involves the Low Countries as a whole.

My research has taken me both to archives and libraries. Last year, I received generous funding from the ALCS to visit several archives in Antwerp in order to investigate the trade in Catholic books between the Northern and Southern Netherlands. Though COVID-19 forced me to cancel my trip halfway through, I have been able to continue this research thanks to the digitisation projects carried out at institutions like the Plantin-Moretus Museum and the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library, and the advice of archivists and librarians who have been extremely generous with their time and resources.

Rekening-courant van Catharina Maria Kiel voor Balthasar II Moretus
Rekening-courant van Catharina Maria Kiel voor Balthasar II Moretus

These digital investigations have already yielded fascinating results. The personal and familial relationships between printers and booksellers in Antwerp and the Dutch Republic, especially Amsterdam, have long been known to be strong. Members of the trade collaborated, corresponded, loaned each other money, and set up their children to marry to ensure the union of their dynasties. Records from the archives at the Plantin-Moretus Museum have shown that their professional relationships, too, were fruitful. Receipts and ledgers inform us that thousands of Catholic books were imported from Antwerp to every province in the Dutch Republic, and Dutch books were even sent back to be resold in Antwerp. A remarkable number of female printers and booksellers, like Catharina Kiel (shown here), participated in this family trade as well.

While I very much look forward to seeing this material in person, it is remarkable what kinds of research ambitious digitisation has made possible. Researchers owe a great debt to the work of archivists and librarians, for their guidance and diligence in ensuring this kind of inquiry can still take place during a pandemic. I owe many thanks, too, to the ALCS for their generous support of my research at such a turbulent time, and look forward to sharing more of my findings in the future!”

Image courtesy of the Museum Plantin-Moretus and the City of Antwerp.