Universiteit Leiden

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Janna Houwen

University lecturer

Dr. J.J.M. Houwen
+31 71 527 2195

Janna Houwen is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Janna Houwen

Fields of interest

  • Political Film, Third Cinema
  • Film and Video Essay
  • Refugee Studies
  • Video Art
  • Contemporary Cinema
  • The MENA region and the Middle East
  • Media Art and “Crisis”
  • Cultural Theory
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • (New) Media Theory
  • Television Series


My research stems from one fundamental question: how do works of art that people create with media technologies (in the widest sense of the word; from painting to new media, from novels to digital cinema) produce ways of looking at, and being in, the world? In my current research, I center on political and social contexts where the interrelation between people and film and video art matters most: contexts where precisely the “being in the world” that art can foster is under threat; where being a person, living a political and personal life, is not self-evident. I study questions of surveillance, war, violence and revolution in lens-based media art, with a focus on the European “refugee crisis,” the Arab Spring and its aftermath, and images of “Eastern others” in Western media. I am particularly interested in films and video art from the MENA-region and the “Middle East.”


My teaching covers a wide range of topics in the overlapping fields of comparative literature, film studies, adaptation studies and art history. I am committed to both the Intercultural and the Intermediality track within the Film and Literary Studies curriculum. I for instance teach courses on political and intercultural cinema (Third Cinema and Beyond)), on intermedial relations between cinema and literature ( Literatuur en Film), and on the word-image conundrum ( Paragone). 

Curriculum Vitae

Janna Houwen is assistant professor at the Film and Literary Studies Department of Leiden University.
She received her Ph.D. with honors from Leiden University (Mapping Moving Media, 2014) and holds degrees in Literary Studies (MA, Leiden University, cum laude), Comparative Literature (BA, Leiden University, cum laude), and in Visual Art (BA, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague).

Since September 2014, Janna has been working as an assistant professor (UD) at the Film and Literary Studies Department at Leiden University (LUCAS, Leiden Centre for the Arts in Society).

Janna’s main fields of expertise are (new) media theory, film and video, cultural theory and comparative literature. She has published on several topics, including intermediality and mediumspecificity, intercultural video art, cinema and the refugee crisis, surveillance, and the machinic. She is the author of Film and Video Intermediality: The Question of Medium Specificity in Contemporary Moving Images (Bloomsbury 2017), and has co-edited Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines (Brill 2018) and Languages of Resistance, Transformation, and Futurity in Mediterranean Crisis-Scapes: From Crisis to Critique (Palgrave Macmillan 2020).

University lecturer

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

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number A1.46




  • No relevant ancillary activities
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