Universiteit Leiden

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Frans Willem Korsten

Senior University Lecturer

Prof.dr. F.W.A. Korsten
+31 71 527 2196

Frans Willem Korsten is a Senior University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Frans Willem Korsten

Fields of interest

  • Rhetoric (classical and modern)
  • Literature and Politics
  • Politico-cultural organization of Europe
  • Literature and Law
  • Theatricality and Dramatization
  • (Pre-)history of Capitalism
  • Reading the urban environment
  • Close reading


Initially, my research focused on ideology criticism, rhetoric and politics. After completing my PhD thesis, in which I combined narratology with argumentation theory in an analysis of cultural critical texts, I wrote a new introduction to literary studies: Lessons in Literature, in which I combined a selection of historical periods in European literature with twelve different approaches to literature and with short analytical explorations. This book helped me to define my interest in major historical and cultural lines, nodes and recurring problems in the politico-cultural organization of Europe. Consequently, I moved towards the theme of sovereignty in plays by the seventeenth century, baroque playwright Joost van den Vondel. This part of my research resulted in Vondel belicht: voorstellingen van soevereiniteit (Hilversum: Verloren, 2006). It was thoroughly rewritten in English: Sovereignty as inviolability (Hilversum: Verloren, 2009). Together with Jan Bloemendal I was happy to see a successful open access, edited volume: Joost van den Vondel: Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age (Leiden: Brill, 2012). The research into the baroque found a concluding study in A Dutch Republican Baroque: Theatricality, Dramatization, Moment and Event  (Amsterdam: AUP, 2017). Meanwhile, back in 2007, I started a new line of research, with All Inclusive: The poetic and capitalism. The points of connection between these forms of research are: the Dutch Republic as a proto-capitalist society; Spinoza and the way in which he was reread in radical Italian political theories from the seventies and eighties; the issue of theatricality and dramatization in relation to the political and law; the relations between literature, art, sovereignty and justice; the conceptualization of history in relation to politics. Finally, another but closely connected thread is ‘close reading’: either of texts or of cities.

Curriculum vitae

  • At Utrecht University I studied Dutch Arts and Letters first, and then Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, from 1977 to 1984.
  • I wrote my PhD thesis at the University of Amsterdam, with Mieke Bal and Frans van Eemeren as supervisors.
  • Since 2007 I hold the chair by special appointment in Literature and Society at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication).
  • Since 2013 I am part-time lector at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, in particular at the Piet Zwart Institute.
  • I have been working mainly as senior lecturer at the department of Film- and Literary Studies of Leiden University since 1998.
  • From January 2010 to September 2013 I was Director of Education of LUCAS, the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.
  • I was responsible for the NWO internationalisation program Post/autonomia and precarity – the global heritage (2010-2014), and with Kornee van der Haven, Inger Leemans, Karel Vanhaesebrouck, we got ITEMP funded by NWO: Imagineering techniques in the Early Modern period (2015-2019).
  • I worked for the Dutch national Council for Culture as chairman for the section Letters, and was a member of the Rotterdam Council for Culture. I was a several time member of assessment committees for the Norwegian Research Council and for The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO.
  • I was a member of an editorial board (Boom-The Hague Publishers) that was concerned with a new series of introductions into the philosophy of science (and edited four volumes in that series). For a couple of years I was member of the editorial board of the open access Journal of Dutch Literature (AUP).
  • At the moment I am focusing on teaching and writing,  and on my PhD community. The only committee I am still a member of is the Annie Romein-Verschoor committee which organizes a Leiden University lecture each year on International Women’s day (https://evenementen.leidenuniv.nl/lezingen/romein-verschoorlezing/); and I am member of the Supervisory Board of art centre BAK in Utrecht. (https://www.bakonline.org/)

Finished PhD's 

As co-promotor

  • June 2001, Leiden: Aldin Kaizilege Mutembei (supervisor prof. dr. Mineke Schipper), Poetry and AIDS in Tanzania : changing metaphors and metonymies in Haya oral traditions

As supervisor

  • June 2011, Leiden: Helmer Helmers, cum laude (co-promotor: dr. Ton Hoenselaars), The Royalist Republic : literature, politics and religion in the Anglo-Dutch public sphere, 1639-1660
  • May 2013, Amsterdam: Tammy Lynn Castelein (with prof. dr. Hent de Vries), No more Heroes: Heidegger Between the Wars.
  • December 2012, Leiden: Marie Anne Coebergh - Van der Marck (co-promotor dr. Janneke Lam) In de ban van het incestverbod : analyse van een historische omslag in de verbeelding van erotiek tussen broer en zuster
  • December 2014, Leiden: Aamir Aziz, Theatre as Truth Practice: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible – a Play Waiting for the Occasion
  • December 2014, Gent: Adam Hall, (with professors Jürgen Pieters and Sandro Jung): Renaissance Metonymy and Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • March 2015, Leiden: Berrie Vugts (co-promotor dr. Yasco Horsman), The Case against Animal Rights: A Literary Intervention
  • November 2015, Amsterdam, Marrigje Paijmans (with prof. Lia van Gemert and dr. Frans Blom – UvA), Dichter bij de waarheid: Parrhesia en dramatisering in het werk van Joost van den Vondel
  • December 2015, Leiden, Sara Polak (with prof. dr. Peter Liebregts), ‘This is Roosevelt’s World: FDR as a Cultural Icon in American Memory
  • March 2017, Leiden, Cui Chen, (co-promotor: dr. Maria Boletsi), The Savage as Living Ghost: Representations of Native Americans and Scholarly Failures to Dismantle the Notion of the Savage
  • September 2017, Leiden, Frank van Doeselaar (with prof. dr. Yra van Dijk) Bewegend lezen: Voorstel tot een cinematografische leeshouding

In progress (alphabetically):

  • Nuno Atalaia: on the political interpretation of baroque music practices in Spain and Portugal
  • Thomas Bragdon (co-promotor: dr. Wout Cornelissen – Vanderbilt) on the political rights of illegal immigrants in the context of the European Union and in the light of the work of Hannah Arendt;
  • Yannice de Bruyn (with prof. dr. Kornee van der Haven, Gent University & prof. dr. Karel Vanhaesebrouck, VU Brussel) Imagineering violence: Techniques of Early Modern Performativity in the Northern and Southern Netherlands 1630-1690;
  • Ana Paula Cardozo de Souza (co-promotor: dr. Sara Brandellero) on the work of Brazilian journal/author João do Rio and the way in which the marginalized are being represented in his ‘night’-work
  • Kai-wen Chiu (co-promotor: dr. Yasco Horsman) a philosophical and psychoanalytical reading of heavy metal rock
  • Marijn van Dijk (with prof. dr. Kornee van der Haven - Gent) on language and images as music in baroque works of art
  • Michel van Duijnen (with prof. dr. Inger Leemans VU-Amsterdam), Imagineering violence: Techniques of Early Modern Performativity in the Northern and Southern Netherlands 1630-1690
  • Gerlov van Engelenhoven (with prof. dr. Greta Olson - Giessen), a decolonial reading of the history of Moluccans in the Netherlands and their missing a cultural icon
  • Riccardo Giacconi, in the context of the PhDarts program in The Hague (co-promotor: dr. Yasco Horsman) on the status of documents and the performative revitalization of resistance ghosts
  • Nike van Helden (co-promotor: dr. Nanne Timmer), on the history of literary (self-) censorship in Cuba
  • Andries Hiskes (with prof. dr. Geert van Hove, Gent), a study on disability and its affective affordances: Deformity, Decay, Disruption, Distortion
  • Hoof, Eric van (co-promotor Yasco Horsman), on postmodernism and myth;
  • Tine Nederveen (co-promotor: dr. Liesbeth Minnaard) on parrhesia and solidarity in the work of Jacob Israel de Haan
  • Mark O’Donnel (co-promotor: dr. Jan-Frans van Dijkhuizen) on reading Donne’s religious and secular poetry in the light of late medieval modes of reading;
  • Merel Oudshoorn (with prof. dr. Peter Bisschop), Decolonizing Dharma: Rereading the Mānava Dharmaśāstra
  • Jack Segbars, in the context of the PhDarts program in The Hague (co-promotor: Joost de Bloois) on the possibilities of artistic activism and modes of exhibiting in contemporary art
  • Bart Vieveen (co-promotor: dr. Peter Verstraten) on the Hamlet machine in iconic modern Dutch literature, theatre and cinema
  • Tessa de Zeeuw (co-promotor: Yasco Horsman) on the force of judicial spaces in the case of tribunals, such as the international court in The Hague, that miss a well-defined juridical fundament

Conferences, symposiums, seminars

  • together with dr. Bram Ieven (UU): Waiting for the Political Moment (Rotterdam, June 2010) conference website;
  • together with dr. Joost de Bloois (UvA) and dr. Monica Jansen (UU): ‘What is post/autonomia today?’; first conference in a set of three; followed by two conferences in the years 2012-2013 organized by international partners: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor (Michigan), and Paris Nanterre.
  • together with Yasco Horsman (UL); Legal bodies: Corpus/Persona/Communitas (Leiden, May 2014); https://hum.leiden.edu/lucas/news-events/legal-bodies-corpus-persona-communitas.html
  • together with Joost de Bloois, symposium ‘Decoloniality, Modernity and the Anthropological Perspective’, June 25, 2015, Amsterdam Center for Globalization Studies
  • together with prof. dr. Jeanne Gaakeer, conference Issues of fact, Rotterdam, September  2015

Teaching activities


  • Introduction to Literary Studies
  • Literary Analysis - Introduction to Theatrical Media
  • Rhetoric
  • Theatricality and Dramatization
  • Didactic Literature
  • Literature and Politics
  • Literature and Law

Prizes, awards

  • Three time nominee for best teacher of the University of Leiden
  • Best supervisor of the Netherlands 2015

Senior University Lecturer

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Literatuurwetenschap

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number A1.40



No relevant ancillary activities

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