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Yra van Dijk

Professor of Dutch Literature in a Global Perspective

Prof.dr. Y. van Dijk
+31 71 527 2625

Yra van Dijk focuses on the relationship between literature, memory and media. She is currently working on a study on post-colonial memory in Dutch-Caribbean literature. In 2018 she published a critically acclaimed monograph on the oeuvre of German-Dutch author Arnon Grunberg in the light of Shoah memory and trauma of the second generation. The study is now available as Open Access free download: see under ‘profile’.

More information about Yra van Dijk


Before her chair in Leiden, Van Dijk worked in Paris (2000-2004), and at the University of Amsterdam (2006-2013) and was a visiting scholar at UCSD in 2010, studying digital communities for the HERA-project ELMCIP. Three different strands are intertwined in Yra van Dijk's research and teaching practice: Literature and New Media, The novel, and Cultural Memory

The Novel

In 2018, Van Dijk finished Afgrond zonder vangnet, a monograph on the oeuvre of the Dutch second generation author Arnon Grunberg. An Open Access download of the book can be found here. Reviews in national newspapers can be found here, here and here.  Reviews in academic journals here and here.

It addresses issues such as: How can literature describe and produce identification with both perpetrators and victims? What can writing mean in the light of global violence and ethical aporia's? The study also charts the development from a satirical and autobiographical young author to a self-reflexive public intellectual who produces multi-directional memory between the Holocaust and contemporary evil.

In collaborations, Van Dijk published edited volumes on Late-postmodern literature (Reconsidering the PostmodernEuropean Literature Beyond Relativism AUP, 2011) and on Theory and Practice of Intertextuality (Draden in het donker, Vantilt, 2012).

Literature and New Media

After her Ph.D. on typography and poetry (published as a Dutch monograph by Vantilt, 2006), the attention for media and materiality led to research in digital literature. In the course of a HERA-project on Digital Communities, Yra van Dijk published on the Poetics in digital literary communities, and on the materialities of (hand)writing in digital literature.

Her focus has been more specifically on the relation between Nostalgia, Memory and Digital Culture, as in the article with Emma de Vries on paradoxes of media change in literature. This has also resulted in articles on literary digital work, like that of Tonnus Oosterhoff, in which remediation produces and problematizes cultural memory, of WO II particularly (in: Literature and Multimedia in late 20th and 21st Century Europe (2014). Recently, this focus has led to publications on representations of media and technology in the novel, too, such as in the postcolonial novel. (Spiegel der Letteren, 2017).

Digital Memory

The interest in Media and Memory has resulted in a European research project: a collaboration with 8 partners from 6 countries on Digital memory of the Holocaust. Between 2017-2019, three interdisciplinary and international seminars were organized, resulting in a joint application for a larger research project and in various publications.

Teaching activities and outreach

When teaching in the Dutch department, Van Dijk takes a comparative stance, focusing on modern Dutch prose and poetry in a European and global perspective. Her course on Shoah representations in art and literature focuses for example on both Dutch texts and contexts, and also international movies, art and literature.

She is a member of the Raad voor de Neerlandistiek, de Raad van de Geesteswetenschappen (KNAW), Chair of the Board of De Nederlandse Boekengids, and regularly gives national and international lectures.


Currently, Van Dijk is supervising five PhD-projects:

Rik Spanjers (UvA) and Adrienne Baars (Leiden University, LUCAS) both focus on representations of memory and conflict too, whereas Emma de Vries (LUCAS) studies neo-epistolary culture in the digital age.

Karin Amatmoekrim (LUCAS) is writing a biography on the Dutch-Caribbean journalist Anil Ramdas, under the supervision of Yra van Dijk and Elleke Boehmer.

Nienke van Leverink (LUCAS) writes a PhD thesis on the oeuvre of Marcel Möring in the perspective of Shoah-memory and trauma.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about your plans for mastertheses or PhD projects in the fields of modern (Dutch) literature (including poetry), media, technology and literature and questions of cultural memory, ethics and engagement.

PhD supervision- past projects

Inge van der Ven (UU, 2015) finished her thesis on The Monumental Novel under supervision of Kiene Brillenburg, Ernst van Alphen and myself. 

In 2016, Marije Groos finished het dissertation Een hard en waakzaam woord, on engagement in the Literary Journals of the Fifties.

PhD-student of Frans-Willem Korsten and Yra van Dijk, Frank van Doeselaar, (2017): Bewegend lezen. A proposition for a cinematographic reading method.

With Paul Bijl and Thomas Vaessens I supervised PhD-student Lisanne Snelders, who wrote on postcolonial cultural memory in Hoe Nederland Indië leest. Hella S. Haasse, Tjalie Robinson, Pramoedya Ananta Toer en de politiek van de herinnering. (2018).

Grants & Awards

HERA Grant (2010)

NWO Internationalisation (2016)

Key publications

  • Yra van Dijk, Afgrond zonder vangnet. Liefde en geweld in het werk van Arnon Grunberg. Nijgh en Van Ditmar, Amsterdam, 2018.
  • Emma de Vries and Yra van Dijk “Book for Loan”. S as Paradox on Media Change. In: Brillenburg Wurth, Pressman e.a., Book Presence in a Digital Age. Bloomsbury Press.
  • Yra van Dijk and Stephan Besser, Kafka on the Gulf: Male Identity, Space, and Globalization in Dave Eggers's A Hologram for the King and Arnon Grunberg's The Man without Illness'. In: Comparative Literature, 69, (1). March 2017. Pp. 111-128.
  • Yra van Dijk, 2016, ‘Een kruiwagen vol benzine. Media-technologie in Cola Debrots Mijn zuster de negerin. In: Spiegel der Letteren 58 (4), 459-486.
  • ‘The margins of bookishness. Paratexts in digital literature’. In: Nadine Desrochers and Daniel Apollon (eds.):  Examining Paratextual Theory and its Applications in Digital Culture, IGI Global. 2014
  • ‘Picking up the pieces. History and memory in European digital literature’, in: Marcel Cornis-Pope, Literature and Multimedia in late 20th and 21st Century Europe. In the John Benjamins Press Series on Histories of Literatures in European Languages. 2014, pp. 107-122. 
  • 'Amateurs online. Creativity in a Digital Community'. Poetics  43 (2014); p. 86-101. doi:10.1016/j.poetic.2014.02.001
  • Yra van Dijk, ‘Reading the form. The function of typographic blanks in modern poetry’. In:  Word and Image. 27 (4), 2011. Pp. 407-415. 
  • Yra van Dijk, ‘A Performance of Reality. Handwriting and paper in digital literature’. In: Journal of Dutch Literature, Winterissue 2012. 
  • Yra van Dijk, Maarten De Pourcq en Carl de Strycker (eds):  Draden in het donker. Intertekstualiteit in theorie en praktijk. Nijmegen, Vantilt, 2012. 
  • Thomas Vaessens and Yra van Dijk (eds.),  Reconsidering the Postmodern: European Literature Beyond Relativism. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011. 
  • Don’t lurk too long’. Art and Creativity in a Digital Community’: Forthcoming in Poetics, 2014. 
  • ‘Picking up the pieces. History and memory in European digital literature’, in: Marcel Cornis- Pope, Literature and Multimedia in late 20th and 21st Century Europe. In the John Benjamins Press Series on Histories of Literatures in European Languages. Forthcoming. 
  • ‘Uitblinken in overleven. De erfenis van de Shoah bij Arnon Grunberg’ . In:  De wereld als poppenkast. Het leven volgens Arnon Grunberg. Johan Goud (red,). Kampen, 2010. 
  • Leegte, leegte die ademt. Het typografisch wit in de moderne poëzie. Nijmegen: Vantilt. 2006. 


Professor of Dutch Literature in a Global Perspective

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Moderne Nederlandse L&C

Work address

P.N. van Eyckhof 1
2311BV Leiden
Room number 2.01



  • Stichting Literatuurmuseum Lid Raad van Toezicht
  • NRC Handelsblad recensent
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