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Emma de Vries receives Fulbright Grant and Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Scholarship

Emma de Vries, PhD researcher at LUCAS, has been awarded with a Fulbright Grant and Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Scholarship. From September 2015 onwards, Emma will spend a full academic year in the Unites states, to work at UCLA and Harvard on her PhD research on Neo-Epistolarity.

Letters in/on Technological Transition

Tonnus Oosterhoff, "Brandbrief" (2011)

In her PhD research, Emma de Vries signals a remarkable phenomenon: a simultaneous dis- and reappearance of the letter in contemporary culture. While Facebook, email or WhatsApp have ousted the letter into disuse as a common means of communication, the epistolary medium is pervasively rehabilitated in a wide range of literary, artistic and ordinary practices. Neo-Epistolarity, as Emma calls these emerging phenomena, combines analogue use of paper, pen and postal delivery, with a strong engagement with modern digital culture. Thus, a large and intriguing part of these letters cannot be interpreted as mere expressions of technophobia or nostalgia. Therefore, Emma suggests considering Neo-Epistolarity not as means of resistance against modern life and progress. She would like to position neo-epistolary works as inquiries into media-technological change and its cultural implications.

Harvard and UCLA

In her PhD project, Emma explores the interspaces between technology, media, literature and art.

Why is she going to Harvard and UCLA?

Emma explains: “Whereas the research of these topics is often distributed over different programs, my host departments metaLAB at Harvard and Design Media Arts at UCLA, were both founded to facilitate the integrative study of these diverging fields. Here, I expect to find means to approach my material in a manner that escapes the dominant habit to oppose electronic and traditional media, instead of interpreting their relation.”


The Fulbright Program is an American international exchange program set up in 1946. It awards scholarships to students and academics from outside the US for study, research or teaching in the United States, and vice versa. It aims to increase mutual understanding and friendship between countries. Academics in any field and at any stage in their studies or career can apply for a Fulbright scholarship. Emma feels honoured that she is given this chance.

Prins Bernard Cultuur Fonds

The Cultuurfonds was founded in London in 1940 by Prince Bernhard. It continued after the war as Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds aimed at rebuilding the war torn cultural life in The Netherlands. Still, the foundation’s mission is to support cultural and nature preservation projects in The Netherlands, The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The Cultuurfonds emphasizes artistic excellence and educational initiatives. Each year over 3,500 cultural and nature preservation projects are supported. These include scholarships for young artists and scholars. To her delight, Emma has been granted with a “Young Talent Award”.


At UCLA Emma will work with media archaeologist Erkki Huhtamo and with Peter Lunenfeld, expert in digital humanities. Also, she hopes to benefit from the proximity of other inspiring scholars like Johanna Drucker and Rita Raley.  At Harvard, Emma’s host professor is Jeffrey Schnapp, founder of metaLAB, where the role and effect of technology in the arts and humanities is studied.
Emma avidly looks forward to exchanging ideas with her American peers, and to engage in the experimental praxis of events and exhibitions that characterizes academic life in Los Angeles and Boston/Cambridge.

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