Thijs Porck is the winner of the second LUCAS Public Prize!
Thijs Porck, expert in medieval English, has won the LUCAS Public Prize because he has made his research and education visible to a wider audience. Thijs has reached the national media, secondary schools and a lot of views with his blogs and videos. The prize consists of a certificate, trophy, 1000 euros and eternal fame. Thijs: 'I think it is outstanding that we receive recognition for this.’
The jury, which consisted of the members of the LUCAS Impact Committee, was extremely impressed by all the activities undertaken in 2019. We could find LUCAS research everywhere, on television, on the radio, in blogs and vlogs, in the form of a game, in beautiful, readable books and through all kinds of workshops and exhibitions. During an online meeting with LUCAS institute members, the winner was playfully announced by Olga van Marion in this video.
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"I am going to put this trophy in a nice spot in our office and I hope to be able to hand it over to a new academic ambassador of our study programmes and institute next year!”
Thijs Porck was very honoured to receive the prize: 'The clip may suggest otherwise, but we take communication and impact very seriously. It has become an integral part of P&D interviews and you notice that academic communication is important when applying for research funding. As an institute, we have done very diverse things over the past year. Games, TV series, radio appearances. I think that that is something we, as an institute, can be very proud of. It is outstanding that we are receiving recognition for this. I am going to put this trophy in a nice spot in our office and I hope to hand it over to a new academic ambassador of our education and research next year!’
The jury’s motivation
For years, Thijs Porck has been using popularising academic communication, committing to Leiden medieval studies in general and the study of Old English in particular. Thijs is always active, energetic and productive, but 2019 in particular was a very successful year for him. His blog on literature and history already received more than 220,000 views. His videos on Old English and Tolkien have already been watched 85,000 times on YouTube. On Twitter he actively shares information about early medieval England with more than 3000 followers. His research reaches local and national media. In 2019, he could be heard on NPO Radio 1 three times: about old age in the early Middle Ages, the film Tolkien and the Anglo-Saxon missionary Adelbertus. Thijs gave lectures at secondary schools, a lecture on Tolkien in a cinema in Nijmegen and a lecture on Game of Thrones in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church - ed.) in Groningen. Together with Marlisa den Hartog and Jerem van Duijl, he founded the Leiden Medievalists Blog. Since then, 24 different Leiden medievalists have shared their research with a wider audience here; the blogs have been viewed 100,000 times and have been discussed by het Leidsch Dagblad (Leiden Daily – ed.) and NPO Radio 1, among others. Together with Krista Murchison, Thijs manages the Facebook page Medieval Studies in Leiden, which has more than 600 followers, on which information from and about Leiden medieval studies is posted three times a week.
Ten LUCAS staff members were nominated for their public activities in the year 2019. The other nominees:
For years, Peter Verstraten has been able to reach a large audience with his reflections on film. He is the compiler of the Psychoanalyse en film (Psychoanalysis and film – ed.) programme, for example, which is shown six nights a year in four cinemas in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Maastricht; Peter advises the film committees, writes the flyers and occasionally acts as a moderator. In 2019, he gave lectures in film houses, was a guest in a podcast and was interviewed several times: on Radio 1, nu.nl (news website - ed.) and for the beautiful book Alles is film (Everything is film - ed.). His productive year also included HOVO education (education for elders - ed.), a jury membership in a competition for student films and a mini-lecture in Paradiso (cultural centre - ed.).
Carmen van den Bergh
During the short time she has been working in Leiden and at LUCAS, Carmen van den Bergh has managed to turn the Italian Language and Culture study programme into a vibrant cultural centre, benefiting students, colleagues and researchers as well as alumni and interested people outside of the university. The impressive weblog Italianistica -Italiëstudies Universiteit Leiden (Italianistica – Italian Studies Leiden University – ed.) reports on a staggering number of events and activities, including interviews with Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, reports from Rome, conferences on Dante, Leonardo and the Middle Ages. Carmen builds a solid bridge not only between Leiden and Italy, but also between the academic world and society.
Aafje de Roest
In a short time, Aafje de Roest has made herself indispensable as a contemporary hip-hop academic. She adds a breath of fresh air that blows both outside of and within the Dutch Language and Culture programme and the master's in Dutch Studies. As a PhD student, she often appears for a wider audience. In 2019, for example, she was a guest in the Wilde haren podcast, together with well-known hip-hop artists, which she initiated herself, out of a desire to actively involve the hip-hop scene in her research. For two hours she talked live with Vincent Patty about various topics, such as her own position as a hip-hop academic, on which she openly and critically reflects. The broadcast was watched over 4000 times on YouTube. Inspired by her appearance, students and pupils now approach Aafje de Roest for their own research projects.
On 23 September 2020, our colleague Renske Janssen obtained her PhD. A few days later, a long article about her research, titled De Romeinen vervolgden de Christenen niet (‘The Romans did not persecute the Christians’ – ed.) appeared in NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper – ed.) with a photo of Renske in the National Museum of Antiquities. This interview, which was published right after the period of this Public Prize, is in itself a wonderful achievement, but even before obtaining her PhD, Renske already managed to reach the general public through all kinds of channels: through contributions to the vlog series LUCAS Explains, through a guest contribution to the podcast Herwaarns, and through a contribution to the LUCAS blog. With these activities, Renske sets a good example for other researchers. She shows us how a traditional discipline can be released through digital channels. Antiquity is not outdated, but alive and kicking. And antiquity turns out to be a mirror that confronts us with our own values and ideas.
Nanne Timmer has long had the ambition to share, in addition to her academic articles, her knowledge of Latin American culture with a Dutch audience, and vice versa. In 2019, she has undertaken several projects to this end. She has, for example, collected poems, photographs and anecdotes by the Hague photographer Gerard Fieret, compiled them, translated them into Spanish and provided an introduction in Los hombrecitos Hasselblad. Much of the material comes from the collections of the Leiden University Libraries. It is fascinating to see how an outsider like Fieret from the Netherlands is received much better in Spain. Beautiful reviews have appeared in Spain and Nanne has also been interviewed by Spanish radio about the book.
Janric van Rookhuijzen
In 2019, no one has reached such a large audience as Janric van Rookhuijzen. On 17 December 2019, his article The Parthenon Treasury on the Acropolis of Athens appeared online in the prestigious American Journal of Archaeology. Based on detailed argumentation, the piece provides a revolutionary new interpretation of the archaeology of one of the most studied archaeological objects in the world: the Athenian Acropolis. According to Janric, the most famous building there, the Parthenon, bears the wrong name. The article is a detective-like search for the historical entanglements that led to the temple that was actually called the 'hekatompedon' (hundred-footer) becoming known as the Parthenon from the second century onwards, while the actual Parthenon is part of the temple that is now known as the Erechtheion: the temple supported by columns shaped like girls (Karyatids) - parthenoi! On the day of the online publication, a long article appeared in and by National Geographic Holland that was viewed millions of times. The article led to appearances on radio and television, and reports in, among others, de Volkskrant and het Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch newspapers – ed.). The dust has not yet settled, and we will undoubtedly hear a lot more about Janrics' spectacular research!
Elisabeth den Hartog
Our colleague Elisabeth den Hartog deals with Dutch building sculpture in the broadest sense of the word. This is what we have been seeing from her for years. She does this on an international level in cooperation with UNESCO. On a national level, she does this for the series Bouwsculptuur of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, in which she wrote, in 2019, about the St Eusebius in Arnhem, the St.-Maartenskerk in Doorn, de Dom in Utrecht and Maartenskerk in Kerkdriel (churches – ed.). That same year, for the Zeven Provinciën Reeks (Seven Provinces Series – ed.), she published Een spoor van vernieling (A trail of destruction - ed.) with a unique overview of what animated the iconoclasts in 1566, how they acted and which objects specifically aroused resentment and why. In addition to her work on articles, collections and books in 2019, Den Hartog was in great demand for advice for municipalities and church councils and for lectures for a general audience. The cherry on top that year was her publication of Monsters in het koor: Context en betekenis van de veertiende-eeuwse gebeeldhouwde zwikken in het koor van de Haarlemse Grote of St.-Bavokerk. (Monsters in the choir: Context and meaning of the fourteenth-century sculpted spandrel in the choir of the Haarlem Grote or St. Bavo Church - ed.).
Everyone knows him from television! Jürgen Zangenberg is the erudite, down-to-earth scholar we can see walking around Israel with host Kefah Allush of the Evangelical Broadcasting association. In 2018, he performed in the four-part series Jezus van Nazareth (Jesus of Nazareth - ed.), in 2019 he recorded a new series, which was broadcast around Pentecost 2020. In the television series Jezus van Nazareth verovert de wereld (Jesus of Nazareth conquers the world – ed.), Kefah Allush travels to the areas where Jesus lived. Jürgen Zangenberg explains, answers, nuances, and offers the historical context. A highlight of the series was a moment at an ancient excavation with some indefinable stones. The host wanted to see this as the prayer room of an early Christian congregation, but Jürgen quietly persisted that it was really nothing more than a water reservoir. A nice balance between sober research and exciting television!
In 2019, colleague Louise Müller of African Languages and Cultures and the MA African Studies led an intercultural team of philosophers and African linguists, with whom she created the game Adinkra; a name that refers to the abstract symbol language of the Akan from Ghana. Adinkra is an introductory game with an African 'high context culture' and an exercise in intercultural communication. Those who play the Adinkra game, practice interpreting the African language Akan within its context. The player also gets to know his or her own language and culture better. The game serves a broad target group of families, friends, colleges and secondary schools, culture foundations, philosophical circles and the business community. In 2019, Adinkra was released in philosophical circles and the game was played at various colleges and secondary schools.
Congratulations to all candidates on the great results: thanks to your efforts, countless people can enjoy and benefit from LUCAS' research!
About the LUCAS Public Prize
The LUCAS Public Prize is awarded annually to a researcher who, in the past year, has been able to reach a wide audience outside the academic community with his or her research. In addition to a certificate, a trophy and eternal fame, the prize consists of a sum of €1,000 to be spent on research-related activities/publications.