ALCS Essay Prizes 2021

Congratulations to the winners of the ALCS Essay Prize 2021!


Postgraduate/Early Career Prize


Irving Wolters (UCL)
Irving Wolters (UCL)

Bibliotheca Neerlandica

The winner of the Postgraduate/Early Career Prize is Irving Wolters from UCL, with his essay ‘Genesis of the Canon of Dutch Literature: The Bibliotheca Neerlandica?’

Although the canon of Dutch literature was not officially digitalized until 2002, this paper presents a view that a Dutch initiative in the 1950s and 60s may have been a genesis of canon building through translation sixty years ahead of its time.In the 1950s the Dutch government established an organisation called the Stichting ter Bevordering van de Vertaling van Nederlands Letterkundig Werk. This foundation was served by a commissioning body whose role it was to consider and select titles available to them from the Netherlands and Flanders. Irvin uses minutes of the commissioning body’s meetings obtained from the Letterkundig Museum in The Hague to research this. 


This year there were two winners of the Undergraduate Prize: Megan Strutt from the University of Sheffield and Anna Mihlic from UCL.


Megan Strutt (Sheffield)
Megan Strutt (Sheffield)

Guus Kuijer

In Megan’s essay, ‘Emancipation, Power and Religion in Guus Kuijer’s Het boek van alle dingen’, we see the tensions between tradition and modernity in the Orthodox-Protestant family of Kuijer’s nine-year-old protagonist, Thomas Klopper. Although the typical 1950’s family is often referred to as exemplary of ‘family values’, with women perceived as “mothers and homemakers”,  there were also discernible murmurings of women’s liberation at the time; hints of the second wave of feminism that was to emerge in the sixties.

Kuijer’s text explores the effects of a changing societal mood on Thomas’s fundamentally religious family, and Megan’s paper considers how this is represented through the relationship between the themes of emancipation and power.


Language Attitudes in Wallonia

Anna Mihlic (UCL)
Anna Mihlic (UCL)

In Anna’s essay, ‘Language Attitudes in Wallonia towards English and Dutch’, we see how languages in Belgium have an important symbolic value, which is linked to the social, economic, political and cultural history of the country and to the contemporary division into different regions. In this paper she explores the attitudes towards and the values associated with Dutch and English as foreign languages among university students in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Reflecting on previous literature, Anna’s research examines the following questions: How do language attitudes towards Dutch and English differ in Wallonia? What are the implicit and explicit attitudes towards the two languages and to what extent do these differ?

ALCS Essay Prize Winners 2020!

We are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Undergraduate and Postgraduate ALCS Dutch Essay Prize. We had contributions from a range of disciplines, ranging from Low Countries history and political culture, to translation studies and Dutch and Flemish literature.

The ALCS PG Prize was awarded to Irving Wolters for his enjoyable essay on the relative success of choices translators make, and the influence of other players on their work, with a case study of Marriage/Ordeal by Gerard Walschap translated by Alex Brotherton. The jury deemed the essay scholarly, informative, and a very interesting discussion of some very knotty translation issues.

We had several excellent contenders for the ALCS UG Prize. After some deliberation, the prize was awarded to UCL BA Dutch and French finalist Alice Learmouth for her concise and well-focussed essay on the peculiarities of Dutch political culture. Our panel thought much was achieved in a relatively short essay, which was mature and well-developed. Learmouth discusses the topic from the perspective of pillarization and provides arguments for and against the influence of pillarization on policies towards ethnic minorities in the Netherlands.

Congratulations to Irving Wolters and Alice Learmouth from the whole of the ALCS community! We would also like to thank all other contenders for their contributions and hard work and would like to wish everyone a rewarding summer break.

Winners of ALCS Essay Prize 2016

Our ALCS reader panel is usually enthusiastic about the undergraduate and postgraduate entries for our annual ALCS Essay Prize, but this year they cracked: instead of one, they awarded two undergraduate prizes, one for a literary paper and one for a linguistic one.

This is a first in the history of our Essay Prize and we are therefore proud to not only announce the winners, but also to publish their work on our website.

Together with the excellent postgraduate paper by Kasper Swerts, the essay prize 2016 is a testimony to the strength and the breadth of Dutch Studies: history, politics, philosophy, literature, linguistics, it is all there.

Thank you to all entrants for their essays and a special thanks for our panel of readers for their hard work and expert verdict!

SchaefferUndergraduate Winner: Mathias Schäffer (Sheffield), ‘The presence of the absent mother in Gerbrand Bakker’s Perenbomen bloeien wit

Jury’s comments:
‘A very interesting topic and a good amount of research has gone into the essay. It is a well-structured, very readable essay that takes account of the reader and provides enough information in order for the reader to understand the issues fully.’

Postgraduate Winner: Kasper Swerts (PhD Edinburgh),
‘A Flemish Nozdormu? Teleology and Philosophy of history in the writings of Hendrik Jozef Elias’

Jury’s comments:
‘Swerts argues convincingly that in his political choices the Flemish politician and nationalist historian Hendrik Elias was guided – or misguided – by his highly particular philosophy of history. A sophisticated essay and an excellent read.’

Kasper Swerts has been invited to submit his essay for publication in Dutch Crossing.

BobbyjonesUndergraduate Runner Up: Robert Jones (Sheffield), ‘Tweetalig onderwijs: Effective education or pointless pedagogy?’

Jury’s comments:
‘This is a well researched essay with a clear academic approach to the topic. Interesting issues are discussed in a clear and balanced way. Excellent use of background literature.’

ALCS Essay Prize 2015

Our ALCS expert panel of readers was delighted with yet another impressive haul of essay entries for the yearly ALCS Essay prize. This year the undergraduate entries covered subjects such as literary translation; Verkavelingsvlaams; language policy in the Dutch East-Indies; literary representation of Nazi concentration camps; WOII Belgian collaborators as represented in the works of Erwin Mortier; representation of religion and authority in literature, to name but a few.

Orla RandlesAfter extensive deliberation the panel decided on one linguistic and one literary winner. The Undergraduate Prize was awarded to Orla Randles (Sheffield, BA German with Dutch, image right) for her excellent essay ‘Straattaal: A Threat to Standard Dutch?’

The postgraduate entries were again of a high standard but the clear winner was Ruth Clemens (UCL, MA Comparative Literature) for her impressive essay ‘Becoming-Imperceptible in Cees Nooteboom’s The Following Story and Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman’. The full essay can be read on Academia.edu. Ruth Clemens is now pursuing a PhD in comparative literature at Leeds Trinity University.

ALCS Essay Prize 2014

On 18 July 2014 the ALCS review committee awarded the 2014 ALCS essay prize for the best undergraduate entry. The winner receives £100 and a year’s membership to Dutch Crossing, our academic Journal.

ALCSprize Joel BakerThis year’s winner is Joel Baker. He wrote an excellent essay on ‘Fretz 2025: Towards a New Relationship Between Art and Politics’.

Joel is a final year undergraduate student at the University of Sheffield.