Dutch Studies News and Events

A Year of Dutch Studies in Four Short Films: 2016-2017

What is it like to study Dutch at Sheffield? During 2016-17 we recorded the type of activities our students get involved in. This varied from more formal and representational activities, such as the opening of the new Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies with the Dutch Ambassador, to language and culture activities such as the Translation Project with Flemish author Carmien Michels and an exciting new way to study literature with award-winning tutor Cyd Sturgess.

The fourth and final film is reserved for our Finalists 2017. During the Student Colloquium they all present their own Dutch Studies topic from the field of history, literature, linguistics, politics, cultural studies. It is a genuine celebration of four years of Dutch Studies. 

October 2016

Opening of the Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies 

March 2017

Translation Project with the European Champion Slam Poetry Carmien Michels

December 2016

Innovative Teaching: Literature and Culture in Dutch

May 2017

Student Colloquium with Final Presentations

In praise of our Erasmus Language Assistants

Erasmus studentenAll our Sheffield language undergraduates spend at least five months in the Netherlands or Flanders in their Third Year. Many opt for a university study period through one of our Erasmus Exchange links.

But the Dutch Section also receives many Dutch and Belgian students from our partner universities: in Groningen, Utrecht, Nijmegen in the Netherlands; Gent and KU-Leuven in Belgium.

Contribution to the language programme

The contribution of these students to the everyday running and the positive atmosphere of the Dutch Section cannot be overstated. Each semester they are involved in organising our oral classes; they set up and deliver our voluntary tandem programme; they help out with or organise social events. In short, they show generosity and willingness to get involved and we are grateful that they are prepared to contribute their time and expertise to our Sheffield students. 

There is something in it for them too: involvement with the language sections is a quick way to integrate into Sheffield student life and to escape the so-called 'Erasmus bubble'. There are opportunities for Placement Modules too. One of this year's Erasmus students, who opted for such a Placement Module, Shirin Said (University of Groningen) commented: “I loved the opportunity to contribute to the Dutch programme. I have really grown in confidence and it was great to help other students too.”


We would like to hear from you if you are an Erasmus students at Sheffield and interested in getting involved with the Dutch programme. Drop an email to: h.louwerse@sheffield.ac.uk.

Opening Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies

Dutch Ambassador to the UKThe vibrant Low Countries Studies community in the North of England has been given a further boost with the renewed Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies. The official opening was conducted by mr. Simon Smits, Dutch Ambassador to the UK on 27 October 2016.

The Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies want to be a hub for all Dutch and Flemish related research and cultural activities in the North of the UK. In addiition to research and cultural events, the Centre wants to serve the student community by organising career-oriented events and network opportunities.

Students and the Centre

The opening included a presentation of their work by undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students at Sheffield and a panel discussion. 

The Ambassador contributed to a panel discussion on language study, career prospects and a future outside of the EU.

The other panel members were Lauren Harris, (Dutch Embassy London) and two Sheffield alumni: researcher and translator Jenny Watson (Swansea University) and Aimee Hardy of the Anne Frank Trust. The discussion was moderated by Henriettte Louwerse.

Check the Centre's webpages for information about events in 2017.

Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies

Packing a Punch

So far in 2016 Dutch and Flemish media as well as leading cultural and political organisations have consulted Sheffield staff and students as language experts, as cultural interpreters and analysts, and as translators and commentators. Dutch at Sheffield is proud to pack a punch beyond the classroom.

Europe House

Louwerse and Van Oostrum in Europe House

In March 2016, Duco van Oostrum (English) and Henriette Louwerse (Germanic Studies) were responsible for ‘one of the most memorable evenings’ at Europe House in London according to Language Officer Paul Kaye of Europe House. Van Oostrum and Louwerse offered an informative and practical evening around the Dutch and Frisian languages for a large audience of diplomatic staff and general public.


Professor Michael Perraudin (Germanic Studies) regularly performed on Dutch National Radio during May and June 2016. As a fixed member of the 'panel of UK voters' for a well-known Dutch current affairs programme, Perraudin offered a commentary on the political and media developments in the run up to the EU referendum. On 24 June 2016 Henriette Louwerse was interviewed for Flemish Belgian national radio (VRT Radio 1) in partcular about the possible consequences of Brexit on student exchange programmes.

Callum SimpsonStudent Impact

Sheffield students are just as involved in reaching beyond institutional and national borders. In May 2016 eighteen finalists of Dutch translated a new Dutch short story into English working alongside the author, Rebekka de Wit, and a professional translator, Jonathan Reeder. The translation is available as e-book and audiobook on citybooks.eu, the large (EU-funded) pool of stories and poems on less widely known European and world cities. Sheffield is the only UK city represented in this prestigious project.

Finally, it was finalist Callum Simpson (BAML) who published a article in June 2016 about his experience as a literary translator. His text appeared in Vaktaal, a specialist journal for teachers of Dutch in the Netherlands and Flanders.

Check our Dutch pages for all programmes involving Dutch.

citybook antwerpen

As part of Sheffield's ongoing involvement with the EU-funded European literary project citybooks.eu, our current fourth year students of Dutch are translating a fresh new citybook into English. Dutch author and performer Rebekka de Wit wrote her citybook Antwerp in January 2016 and less than a month later, our students are applying their language and translation skills to prepare the English version for publication on the citybooks.eu web site.

For this edition, Sheffield students have teamed up with their colleagues at the University of Nottingham and with nearly forty student-translators – each with their own opinion – coming to one stylistically coherent translation is a challenge.

Fortunately, we have called in the experts: together with the author – who visits the UK as part of the Dutch Language Union writer in residence programme – and with the experienced guidance of the literary translator Jonathan Reeder, we work together for an intensive six weeks to prepare the English texts for publication.

The project finishes with a plenary conference and presentation in Sheffield on 16 March 2016. A full programme can be found here. The English translation will be published on citybooks.eu in May 2016.

Postgraduate Colloquium: Drawing a Map

Cyd Sturges

Two of our postgraduate students, Christina Barningham (MA) and Cyd Sturgess (PhD), presented research papers during the inaugural postgraduate colloquium on Low Countries Studies: Drawing a Map. The event took place in London on 2 and 3 July 2015. Cyd Sturgess was also part of the organising committee.

Christina BarninghamChristina Barningham discussed the theme of belonging in the novel De man die niet begraven wilde worden (2011) by the Flemish author Rachida Lamrabet. Barningham argued that the novel undermines our tendency to think in discreet categories and that Lamrabet’s novel must be read as a plea for multiple subjectivities, multiple allegiances and multiple belongings. Christina is writing her MA dissertation on the work of Rachida Lamrabet.

In her contribution ‘Navigating the Boundaries of Desire: Theories of Sexual “Inversion” and Sapphic Self-fashioning in Amsterdam (1930-1939)’, Cyd Sturgess convincingly showed how the literary writing at that time rejected the sexological categories that dominated the medical discourse about same-sex desire. This paper is part of Sturgess' PhD-research on discourses of queer female desire in Berlin and Amsterdam (1918-1939). 

More on postgraduate and research options in Germanic Studies

Anglo-Netherlands Society Essay Prize 2015

Robert Brooke and Cian HurleyOn 3 June Mr Robert Brooke, Chair of the Anglo-Netherlands Society, travelled to Sheffield to award the 4th edition of the ANS Essay prize for students of Dutch in their Second Year. The 2014-15 winner is Cian Hurley, who won the generous £250 prize money for this essay on the political speeches of Dutch politician Geert Wilders. The ANS jury also commended the essays of Katie Matthews and Ellen Long.

The ANS jury report read: ‘We found this essay to be well researched and referenced, maturely written, well structured, thoughtful and with sound analysis. It demonstrated a good grasp of recent culture debates in the Netherlands.’

Cian Hurley commented: ‘I am extremely happy to win this prize. I enjoyed researching and writing the essay and I was content with it, but winning this prize and knowing the essay will be published, makes it really memorable. Thank you very much ANS.’

Cian Hurley is a BA Modern Languages student (German, Dutch and Luxembourgish) and he will split his coming Year Abroad between a teaching assistantship in The Netherlands and studying in Berlin. 

Finalists 2014-2015: 'We zijn er bijna'

Students of Dutch in final year

On 19 May 2015, the current cohort of Dutch finalists finished their language programme with a festive day of presentations. It is a bitter-sweet moment when, after four years of intensive study, a group of students is ready to fly out.  

All candidates presented a final paper in Dutch on a topic of their choice. The 20-minute presentations generated topics as varied as Poldernederlands, Het Waddengebied or De Nederlandse invloed in Zuid-Afrika. The impressive line-up showed the breath of Dutch Studies but, above all, the linguistic talent, originality and enthusiasm of our Sheffield students. 

Translation Project: We are parallel_

Maud Vanhauwaert with students of DutchTake a young and popular Flemish poet/performer, invite a famous poetry translator, and add about thirty finalists in Dutch from Sheffield, Nottingham and UCL and you will have the Dutch Translation Project 2015

Translating poetry is both a real challenge and a highly rewarding activity as our students discovered when they tackled the poetry of Flemish poet Maud Vanhauwaert. In small groups they translated sections from Vanhauwaert's latest collection Wij zijn evenwijdig_.

Fortunately, they did not have to go at it alone: David Colmer – translator of among others Hugo Claus and Ramsey Nasr – was at hand to encourage and advise. After six intense weeks of reading, interpreting, translation and negotiating, the end result will be published in the next few months.

One of the participants commented: ‘This is a really rare and interesting project with an invaluable opportunity to work with both a translator and a poet.'

The Translation Project 2015 was produced and coordinated by Henriette Louwerse.

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Callum Simpson and Imogen Benton

Two winners: Imogen Benton and Callum Simpson

On 11 June 2014 Imogen Benton was awarded the Anglo-Netherlands Society essay prize for her essay 'Het multiculturele drama'. Did Paul Scheffer’s intervention create an opening for the rise of Geert Wilders?'. The president of the ANS, Mr Robert Brooke presented the £250 cash prize during a festive reception in Sheffield. 

In her essay, Benton discusses Scheffer's seminal publication ‘The multicultural Fiasco’ (2000), which triggered the Dutch debate on multiculturalism and immigration that still continues today. The full essay will be published in the Society's Newsletter.

Callum Simpson was a winner in the Algemeen-Nederlands Verbond (ANV) global essay competition. Students of Dutch from all over the world were invited to record their story of how they came to study Dutch: ‘Ik studeer Nederlands omdat ….’ Simpson’s moving personal account in Dutch will appear alongside contributions from Hungary, China, Indonesia and Germany in a special ANV publication. Congratulations to both!

Sheffield students curate and produce a cultural evening in London

Banner event

What would be the perfect project to finish your BA degree? Intrepid Tongues must come pretty close. This fourth year project for students of Dutch involved the organisation and production of a cultural evening on 8 May 2014 in London’s Dutch Centre at Austin Friars.

But Intrepid Tongues was more than just an event. It was an inquiry into the artistic mode of young Dutch and Flemish artists; under investigation was the relationship between art and community as expressed through their work and performance. Taking care of the theoretical embedding and leading the academic discussion was also part of Intrepid Tongues.

The students picked three exciting performers: the cabaret duo, De Gebroeders Fretz, and the poet and finalist of the Leids standup comedy competition, Maud Vanhauwaert. In the run up to the London event, the artists and students met regularly in an online environment and via a skype-link to discuss the artists' work. They recorded their movements on the Intrepid Tongues website.

This short video gives an impression of the project and the performances on 8 May. Intrepid Tongues was kindly sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands, Flanders House in the UK, the University of Sheffield and the Dutch Language Union. The project was coordinated and facilitated by Dr Henriette Louwerse.

ALCS Essay Prizes 2013: Clean Sweep for Sheffield

aimee hardy ALCS prize winnerThe Association for Low Countries Studies awards a yearly Essay Prize for the best undergraduate and postgraduate essay on a Dutch Studies topic. The ALCS committee met on 17 January 2014 and we are proud to announce two Sheffield winners. Both recipients will receive £100 and a year’s membership of Dutch Crossing the association’s academic Journal.

The undergraduate prize was awarded to Aimée Hardy for her essay 'Pim Fortuyn: de man, zijn politiek en zijn erfenis.' The essay review committee was impressed by this entry, particularly as it was written in excellent Dutch. Aimée Hardy graduated in June 2013 with a BAML Honours Degrees in German, Dutch and French. She will start on her MA in Dutch Studies at UCL in September 2014.

Cyd Sturgess ALCS prize winnerThe postgraduate prize went to Cydney Sturgess for her essay 'Double Dutch: A Post-Jungian Rereading of Harry Mulisch’s Twee vrouwen'. The reviewers felt that it was a very well written piece of work and that the approach to the subject was academically rigorous.

After graduating with a BA in German with Dutch and an MA in Germanic Studies, Cydney was awarded a Wolfson scholarship and she is currently working in the Department on her PhD-thesis on lesbian networks in early 20th century Germany and the Netherlands.

'Family Affair'

foto Andrea StultiensOn 13 On 13 December 2013 finalists of Dutch at Sheffield met with the Dutch author and journalist Vrouwkje Tuinman and photographer Andrea Stultiens.

The visit was part of the culture module 'Familie duurt een mensenleven lang' which investigated the representation of family in contemporary Dutch fiction and films. Tuiman discussed her high autobiographical debut novel Grote acht (Big Eight) which covers significant episodes in the life of a young girl.  

Tuinman and Stultiens also presented their collaborative project Intensive care in which words and images join forces to record and express experiences of loss and mourning. Tuinman has published four collections of poetry and two novels. She writes articles, columns and reviews for various newspapers and magazines. In addition she regularly acts as moderator / presenter and teaches poetry and prose writing.

'Seize the translation': Translation Project 2013

The 2013 version of the collaborative Translation Project worked out differently from planned: the Writer in Residence Wim Brands was forced to cancel his visit to the UK due to personal circumstances. However, students at Sheffield, Nottingham and UCL soldiered on and together with Jonathan Reeder, the professonal translator, they managed to produce an excellent English version of Brands' ode to the Flemish town of Ghent: 'The Brass Band that ate an Elephant'. The text and the translation are part of the citybooks.eu project.

Olivia Michaud, one of our Sheffield participants, commented on the project and the contribution of Jonathan Reeder: "Jonathan provided incredibly valuable insight into the mind and work of a translator. He was generally impressed with our translations, our understanding of the original Dutch text and the level of English. He said: 'The bits of the translation that you thought were most daring are the ones I think are most successful.'"

This project was coordinated by Henriette Louwerse and sponsored by the Nederlandse Taalunie, the Flemish Representation in the UK, the Netherlands Embassy and the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Prestigious Literary Translator position for Alice Paul

A. paulAlice Paul (BA German with Dutch) will be one of the literary translators during the prestigious Crossing Border Festival in The Hague in November 2013. As part of a collective of young, talented writers and translators, Alice will contribute to The Chronicles, a literary report of the festival. The authors produce their daily stories and reflections that are instantly translated and published on The Chronicles website.

In the final year of her BA, Alice took part in our Vertaalproject which offers a unique introduction to literary translation: the students collectively produce an English translation of a Dutch literary text in the presence of the author and with the support of a professional translator.

The writer in residence for Autumn 2013 will be Wim Brands. The translation project will run in November 2013. The text will be published as part of the citybooks.eu project.

Orla Randles wins Anglo-Netherlands Prize 2013

TOrla Randles ANS prizehe successor of Joel Baker, winner of the ANS prize 2012, is called Orla Randles. On 5 June, The Anglo-Netherlands Society announced the Sheffield winner of their essay prize. Orla was awarded the £250 cash prize for her essay 'Refocussing the Lens of Orientalism', in which she discusses Said's seminal concept in connection with the work of Hafid Bouazza and the Yusuf El Halal project. Her essay will be published in the Society's Newsletter. 

The Anglo-Netherlands Society awards their annual Essay Prize to recognize and reward outstanding work in the field of Dutch Studies. Topics include the culture, language, literature, history and society of the Netherlands.

Orla comments on winning the prize: 'I am delighted to have won the ANS prize. It is a real confidence boost just before going on my year abroad. Thank you very much ANS.'

Orla Randles is a BA German with Dutch student who will spend the autumn semester of 2013 studying at the University of Groningen and the spring semester 2014 studying at the University of Bonn.

Citybooks Sheffield in Exhibition in Amsterdam

citybook photosThe Flemish Arts Centre De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam will hosts an extensive citybooks.eu exhibition during May and June 2013.

Citybook Sheffield is represented with the images of photographer David Bocking, the city-one-minute film by Dominic Green and with the recordings of our citybooks authors Abdelkader Benali, Agnes Lehozcky, Rebecca Lenaerts, Helen Mort and Joost Zwagerman. Their stories and poems about Sheffield are available in Dutch, English and French.

The citybook written by our 2nd year students, Beyond Sheffield Train Station is also part of the display.

De Brakke Grond offers the most significant developments in contemporary art including visual art, literature, film and new media. Citybooks.eu is a European wide literary and visual project which is coordinated by Dutch at Sheffield. Our student are involved as translators (see below) and as writers. 

Another Publication by Sheffield Students of Dutch

Author and studentsIn February and March 2013, 4th years students of Dutch translated a short story by the up and coming Flemish author Bouke Billiet. This translation 'Palm Leaves and Promies' is part of the citybooks.eu project in which Dutch at Sheffield is an active partner.

What makes this exercise special is that it involves extensive collaboration with students of Dutch at two other universities: UCL and Nottingham. In addition we have access to the author of the text who contributed actively to the discussion on our digital environment and who visited in person Sheffield to discuss the text with the students. Finally we could call upon the services of a professional translator, Jonathan Reeder, who was digitally at hand to respond to translation issues. The grand finale of the project was the two-hour conference in which we discussed translation issues in a plenary session through a three-way video link: Jonathan joined students at UCL and Bouke was in Sheffield. A small editorial committee consisting of students from all three institutions carried out the last phase of the project. They prepared the translation for publication.

Students evaluated this project very positively: the collaboration with author and translator followed by the publication of the translation is viewed as a true celebration of their work and achievement. One student commented on their feedback sheet, ‘A great experience. Good preparation for world of work, working with people you don’t know and good to do something so different from “usual” uni work.’ Aimée Hardy, one of the 28 participants, wrote a blog for the citybooks website.

Six workshops for students of Dutch by six authors from the Netherlands and Belgium

Dutch at Sheffield is will be part of the High Impact Tour when six prominent authors from the Low Countries tour six cities in the UK. In addition to the evening programme, we will have the opportunity to talk to the authors informally and to attend a number of workshops organised by and for students and staff at Sheffield. Check the workshop programme here.

As part of the fourth year Literature and Culture in Dutch module: Familie duurt een mensenleven lang, our students read the best-selling novel by Herman Koch, Het diner (The Diner). We made a short film of their comments.

All students are invited to join in on Thursday 17 January 2013. Please check our site or contact Henriette Louwerse for more details. There is an event facebook page. This event is sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Flemish Representation in London.

Windows on Dutch Culture: Student Conference

In May 2012 a group of final year students of Dutch within Germanic Studies put together their own conference. The target audience were fellow students of Dutch and anybody interested in Dutch Studies within or outside of the University. Their theme: Windows on Dutch Culture.

Drawing on their own research and experience as language and culture learners, they put together a series of lively presentations on aspects of Dutch culture while at the same time trying to get to grips with the concept of culture itself: What is it? Why does is seem so important? Is it just Rembrandt or does it include football and politics? How do thinkers and researchers define culture and how can we transfer cultural knowledge in a classroom situation?

The students shaped and organised the event themselves and the conference was a prime example of how theory and practical execution can come together. For more information, please check the conference website, and watch the video below.

A BBC Radio Sheffield interview with one of the event organisers, James Fennell, can be found here:

Litro: Festival of Dutch Literature in London

Dutch poet Ramsey nasr with Sheffield Students

On 28 February a group of 35 students of Dutch traveled to London to attend a festival of Dutch literature organised by the literary publication Litro. The day consisted of presentations and debates, some of which particularly relevant to the material we study as part of our undergraduate programme in Dutch. Journalist and publicist Joris Luyendijk for instance discussed the way journalism works in the 21st century in connection with his Bankingblog project for the Guardian newspaper. His comments resonated with our citybooks project. The highlight of the day was the poetry reading by Ramsey Nasr, poet laureate of the Netherlands and supplier of one of the key texts in the module on Dutch Literature and Culture at 2nd year. He deserves to be centre stage in our photo.