Universiteit Leiden

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Olf Praamstra

Professor emeritus by special appointment of Dutch Colonial and Postcolonial Literature

Prof.dr. O.J. Praamstra
+31 71 527 2441

Fields of interest

Dutch Literature after 1800; Literary Criticism, Literature of the Dutch East Indies; South African Dutch Literature



Dutch literature in contact with other cultures

Olf Praamstra's research focuses on the reception and development of Dutch literature in contact with other cultures. In international literary history and comparative literary studies Dutch literature plays a minor role. In the Netherlands much research has been done on the influence of French, German or English literature on Dutch literature; however Dutch literature itself seems to have left no traces internationally.
Nevertheless, the study of Dutch Language and Culture is popular abroad. There are more than two hundred universities outside the Dutch speaking area where one can study Dutch Language and Culture. A great deal of the research done by the institutions ‘Extra Muros’ is concerned with the reception of Dutch literature abroad. Studies have been published on the reception of particular authors and also on specific periods from Dutch literature in France, Indonesia, Scandinavia and the German speaking countries, amongst others. In these studies two aspects strike one immediately: firstly, researchers abroad refer to a different literary canon than those in the motherland, and secondly the study of Dutch literature by non-Dutch researchers always leads to questions concerning Dutch identity.
In this research a prominent place is reserved for the analysis of literary criticism. In order to study or explain the reception of Dutch literature abroad it is necessary to discover which arguments are involved in the evaluation of it, and in which aspects they differ from the arguments that are used in the evaluation in the Netherlands.
This research will have a positive effect on the study of Dutch literature per se, and hence its presence will be increasingly prominent in an international context. This will lead to further insight into the factors that lead to canonization in different cultural contexts.
In addition to this research on the reception of Dutch literature in other cultures, my research also focuses on Dutch literature that has come into existence in other cultures.
The colonial expansion is responsible for an extensive Dutch literature that has been written during, or is inspired by, a stay outside the Netherlands. In this way Dutch East-Indian literature, Dutch Antillean and Surinamese literature, and Dutch South-African literature came into being. As in the research on the reception of Dutch literature abroad, here too it concerns interactions between two cultures. This literature also includes that of migrants who write in the Netherlands in Dutch from a foreign background.
In the study of this literature an analysis of literary criticism is essential too. Which are the ‘non-native’ elements that Dutch critics, and in their footsteps the authors of literary history, see as incompatible with the ‘native’ Dutch literature? Which arguments are decisive in characterizing a work or writer as ‘exotic’? Which stereotypes play a dominant role in the literary discourse and how does one react in the Netherlands and in the ‘foreign’ countries to the myths and identities that are constructed in these texts?


Teaching activities

Language Acquisition
Dutch Literature from 1800 to the present day
National History from 1800 to the present day
Colonial and postcolonial Dutch Literature



Gezond verstand en goede smaak, de kritieken van Conrad Busken Huet, Amstelveen, 1991. (Dissertatie Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
'De omstreden bloei van de Indisch-Nederlandse letterkunde, een afbakening van het corpus', in: Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, 113 (1997), p. 257-274.
Een feministe in de tropen, de Indische jaren van Mina Kruseman. Leiden, 2003 (Boekerij 'Oost en West').
(With Eep Francken), 'Towards an anthology of South African Dutch literature', in: T.J. Broos, M. Bruyn Lacy, Th.F. Shannon [eds.[, The Low Countries: Crossroads of Cultures, Münster, 2006, p. 127-142.
Busken Huet, een biografie. Amsterdam, 2007

Professor emeritus by special appointment of Dutch Colonial and Postcolonial Literature

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Moderne Nederlandse L&C

Work address

P.N. van Eyckhof 3
2311 BV Leiden
Room number 3.05a



No relevant ancillary activities

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