Ons Erfdeel launches new website

The Flemish-Dutch cultural institution Ons Erfdeel vzw has launched a new websites for the English speaking world:  www.the-low-countries.com. Ons Erfdeel aims to provide even more context on culture from the Low Countries.


Ons Erfdeel says:

At Ons Erfdeel vzw we’ve been telling stories about Flanders and the Netherlands in three languages for years, with sharp-witted pens representing trustworthy voices. Those stories deserve a bigger, broader, younger audience. That’s why on 1 April we’re launching as many as three websites, in English, French and Dutch. Websites with a unified style but offering different content.

As you have been accustomed to from us for many years, on this platform too you will be able to read in-depth articles on art, language, literature, history and society in the Low Countries. For this purpose we are appealing to established names and young talent, from the Dutch-speaking region and far beyond. They supply the cultural context, in contemplative stories, columns and interviews, but also in photo reports, podcasts and videos.

To name just a few of our new columnists: Peter Vandermeersch (soon to be former editor in chief of NRC), Gaston Durnez (icon of Flemish journalism), Hind Fraihi (research journalist), Thomas Heerma van Voss (author) and Fieke Van der Gucht (linguist).

The ALCS says:

We congratulate Ons Erfdeel with this fantastic initiative. We are looking forward to working together to raise the international profile of Dutch Studies. And we’d like to add that one of the contributors will be our own Anna Geurts.

The Next 100 Years of Dutch Studies

OpenforbusinessYou will all be aware of the importance of 2019 for Dutch Studies in the UK and Ireland: it is the Centenary Year of Dutch Studies at UCL and, by extension, of the discipline in the UK.

The executive committee of the ALCS wants to use this historical moment to draw attention to the state of Dutch Studies in the UK.  Our report The state of Dutch Studies in the UK and Ireland, which we presented in Sheffield in June 2018, is the starting point of a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of Dutch language and cultures studies for the UK and Ireland.
Recently, Henriette Louwerse, Chair of the ALCS, published the following opinion pieces:

Nicola McLelland (our former ALCS Chair) raised the position of Dutch during a British Academy Round Table in London on 30 January. She pointed out that monitoring of the national coverage of so-called specialist language such as Dutch is required. We are hopeful that a comment on the provision of Dutch and other specialist languages will find its way into the briefing that Janice Carruthers (AHRC Leadership Fellow for Languages) will produce from the various consultation round tables about languages.

More positive action is needed to raise the profile of Dutch Studies. We are working with various partners to inform policy makers in the UK and the Low Countries and we call on all our ALCS members and friends to speak up and point to our report whenever they can. We will keep you informed.

13th ALCS International Conference


13th ALCS International Conference:
Worlding the Low Countries

University College London, 6–8 November 2019

Marking the occasion of the Centenary of Neerlandistiek in the Anglophone world (the first Chair for Dutch Studies was founded in 1919 at University College London, with historian Pieter Geyl as its first incumbent), the 13th international and interdisciplinary Conference of the Association for Low Countries Studies (ALCS2019) will be held at UCL from Wednesday to Friday, 6–8 November 2019.

This means that with our biennial conference will be a year early. Not only is a centenary too good to pass on, this also this puts the ALCS conference in alternate years with the INCS conference of the American AANS. Colleagues will be in a better position to visit each other’s Conferences.

The full Call of Papers can be found on the Conference website.

Picturing Reality: A Sunny Snapshot

Picturing Reality: A Sunny Snapshot of International Dutch and Flemish Studies

In the last week of June 2018, scholars from ten countries and four continents gathered at the University of Sheffield for the 12th biennual ALCS conference. In uncharacteristically sunny weather (a marked contrast to the snowstorms which dominated our last Sheffield meeting of April 2012), our delegates enjoyed three days of talks, networking events and entertainment hosted by staff from Germanic Studies at the University of Sheffield.

Our speakers looked at how, why and for whom reality is shaped, perceived and represented and how these representations impact on self-image, national stories and language status. And although Picturing Reality may have a contemporary ring to it, the breadth of our contributions proved it is a theme for all times. Among the historical realities we encountered seventeenth-century comic theatre as a vehicle for social criticism; Polish views on the Dutch Republic as a military power; and the realities of queer women in Dutch novels between 1928 and 1945.

In addition to welcoming friends old and new to our conference, the ALCS was proud to join in the celebrations marking 70 years of Dutch and Flemish Studies at Sheffield. What started modestly in 1948 as an option for students of German has grown into one of the largest Dutch Sections in terms of student numbers in the Anglophone world. Professor Emeritus Michael Perraudin, himself a former teacher of Dutch language and literature, entertained our guests with the history of how Dutch came to be studied at the university, offering anecdotes about current staff and former students during a festive dinner.

Another highlight was the performance of The Farce of the Fisherman, a 16th century short play by Flemish playwright Cornelis Everaert, performed by Sheffield English and Drama students.


Sobering report

An important part of the ALCS Conference was taken up by the discussion of the comprehensive report The State of Dutch Studies in the UK. This is the third ‘state of’ report, which gives us the opportunity to compare today’s situation with where we were in 2006, the date of the previous report.

The sobering conclusions of the report – Dutch Studies as an academic discipline is in decline, Dutch as an Institution Wide Language is standing its ground – has prompted the committee to invite a representative of the IWLP Dutch to join the committee, Ms Claire Wengen (Edinburgh).

We have now shared the report widely with relevant organisations including the UCML and Flemish and Dutch representation in the UK. The report was also presented and discussed with the Taalunie and other policymakers in the Netherlands and Belgium.