Universiteit Leiden

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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 is currently coordinating an international research project on Digital Memory of the Shoah, and a minor program in 'Cultural Memory of War and Conflict'. In 2018 she will publish her monograph on the oeuvre of Arnon Grunberg in the perspective of second generation Shoah-memory and trauma.

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

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. This has 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

The Novel

In collaborations, Van Dijk published edited volumes on Late-postmodern literature (Reconsidering the Postmodern. European Literature Beyond Relativism AUP, 2011) and on Theory and Practice of Intertextuality (Draden in het donker, Vantilt, 2012). She is finishing a monograph on the oeuvre of the Dutch second generation author Arnon Grunberg. It 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. The book 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? (to be published in 2018).

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 van de Geesteswetenschappen (KNAW), of het bestuur van de Stichting VSB poezieprijs, chair of the exam committee at Dutch Studies, and regularly gives national and international lectures


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

Please be in touch with plans for thesis- or PhD projects in the fields of contemporary Dutch literature (including poetry), media, technology and literature and questions of cultural memory, ethics and engagement.

PhD supervision- past projects

Frank van Doeselaar (2017): Bewegend lezen. voorstel tot een cinematografische leeshouding.

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

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

Grants & Awards

HERA Grant (2010)

NWO Internationalisation (2016)

Key publications

  • 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. Forthcoming.
  • 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

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

Work address

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



  • NRC Handelsblad recensent

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