Anglo-Netherlands Annual Prize 2020
Traditionally the Anglo-Netherlands Society Prize is awarded for the top essay by a second year student in Dutch Studies. This year, however, things worked out rather differently: the individual essay was replaced with a group podcast and thus the ANS Essay Prize turned into the ANS Podcast Award.
What seemed a significant adaptation, sooner proved a refreshing change as the the judges of the Anglo-Netherlands Society noted: "If we harboured any doubts beforehand on the merit of the podcast medium as a practical alternative to the traditional essay, they are dispelled by these teams."
During a festive online Award Ceremony on 23 July, the winners were announced by the ANS Honorary Secretary Mr Paul Dimond in the presence of Sheffield students of Dutch, the ANS judges, representatives of the Netherlands Embassy, Flanders House, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All participants received warm congratulations on their podcasts.
A new pastoral?
In their Leuke Literatuur Round Up, the winners Hanna Aalen, Ana Krech, Robert Pearce and Marta Siwakowska, focus on Stimmy of het oerwoud in de stad by Daan Remmerts de Vries and Philip Hopman. The analyse the text and the images of the story in which a boy is bored of the city, dreams of the jungle, and tries to get lost in the city’s park.
For the second year project module Towards a New Pastoral? Urban Idylls in Contemporary Dutch and Flemish Children’s Literature students ventured into an ecocritical reading of Dutch and Flemish texts for children. Why is the majority of literature for children traditionally set in the countryside when most children grow up in a highly urbanised environment? What are the classic connotations of urban and natural elements in children’s literature? And what makes a famous text like Annie M.G. Schmidt’s Pluk van de Petteflet (1971) so different from other books?
What do you associate your childhood with? It was one of the first questions that we asked ourselves in class. And without hesitation, I talked about playing outside, as my village seemed to me and my friends one big playground. But as we delved deeper into the history of the idealisation of nature and countryside, it really hit me that my own account was also influenced by the romantic, pastoral views on childhood’.
Second Year Dutch Studies and one of the winners of the ANS Award
The winning podcast looks at the ways Stimmy represents the relationship between children and their urban spaces: how do we 'teach' nature – and it’s traditional opposite: the city – to our children through the books that we read and the images we show? And is that dichotomy still productive? In their lively discussion, Hanna, Ana, Rob and Marta share personal experiences and refer to classic texts such as Rousseau’s Emile ou de l’éducation, Vergil’s Eclogues and Thoreau’s Walden or Life in the Woods. They apply theoretical and ecocritical concepts such as Leo Marx’s complex pastoral and the more recent idea of ‘urbanature’.
The ANS judges found this ‘a very strong, confident and well-paced podcast’:
As well as its academic achievement, this podcast achieved what might be described as a professional broadcasting standard, was articulated with clarity and was instructive and entertaining. The book was clearly introduced, including useful description of the illustrations, with impressive analysis and remarkably wide reference bibliography. These students have captured their material fully. We liked the structure and natural flow of the discussion managed most effectively by the star moderator of the team, whose internal rapport and individual character were evident.
The ANS judges also mentioned that the other two podcast were of a high quality. About Rosie and Moussa they noted: "This presentation was strong on imagination and we appreciated the original and playful aspects of the gossip coffee morning element in the structure."
About Jack in het regenwoud they commented: "This was well planned and we appreciated the clear introduction telling the listener what to expect and, important, the explanation of key literary terms, though ‘urbanature’ might have been defined earlier. The group made some most interesting and perceptive points about the illustrations in the book, contributing to the listener’s wanting to want to buy it."
Listen to all the podcasts here
The course Towards a New Pastoral? Urban Idylls in Contemporary Dutch and Flemish Children’s Literature is a second year module taught by Filip de Ceuster. This is a core course of our Dutch Studies programme.
We are grateful to the Anglo-Netherlands Society for their continued support and engagement with Dutch Studies at Sheffield.
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