Universiteit Leiden

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Ton van Kalmthout new professor of special appointment of Dutch Literature

As of 1 September, Ton van Kalmthout has been appointed professor by special appointment of International Exchange of Dutch Literature in a Historical Perspective. In addition to his research into the import and export of Dutch literature, Van Kalmthout will also teach at Leiden University.

Ton van Kalmthout

Export and import of literature

‘Within my research, I am concerned with how Dutch literature is distributed and read outside of our country, or outside of the Dutch language,' says Van Kalmthout. He also looks at how non-Dutch-language literature ends up in the Dutch language area. ‘In other words, on the one hand I am researching the export of Dutch literature to non-Dutch-speaking countries and on the other hand the import of non-Dutch literature to the Netherlands.’

According to Van Kalmthout, it is important to research this: 'In the Netherlands we think that Dutch literature is the most important and most common. While 80% of what we read (at school) is translated from other languages.’ It works the same way the other way around, says van Kalmthout: 'Abroad, Dutch literature is read much more than we think.’ According to Van Kalmthout, this translating of literature sometimes also occurs in others forms, for example in the form of a film or theater play. ‘Literature is not only spread through paper', he states.


Van Kalmthout is enthusiastic about his new appointment at LUCAS at Leiden University: 'I look forward to teaching, most of all.’ At his position at the Huygens Institute he does not have the opportunity to teach and only occasionally gives guest lectures: 'Over there, I work in an interdisciplinary research group. I can do research there, but I can't teach. I think it's wonderful that I am able do that now. With such an appointment I can follow groups of students again and see them again after a while.'

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