On the 30th of August I presented my research at the IRUN Graduate Conference (Peter Pasmany Katholic University) to an international public of PhD’s in Social Sciences, Psychology and the Humanities. I took the opportunity to present my latest case study that deals with the infamous Huizinga-lezing ‘Literatuurwetenschap: het raadsel der onleesbaarheid‘ (Literary Studies: the Riddle of Unreadability). The lecture was delivered in december 1978 by Dutch Professor of Slavic Literary Studies Karel van het Reve and meant a frontal attack on the work of contemporary Dutch literary scholars and the way Literary Studies was practiced at that moment. What arguments did Van het Reve use to legitimate the profession of the literary scholar? What were the intertextual scientific traditions he placed himself in? And what normative statements did he make in respect to the scholarly enterprise of Literary Studies in general?
The preposition of my paper is that the study of the competition between the public and the academic discourse on literature can contribute to our understanding of the underlying norms and values that define the academic study of literature itself (at a given historical moment). The paper -with full title ‘The Literary Scholar as Literary Critic? How the study of the relation between the academic and the public discourse on literature can help to understand the function and value of Literary Studies’- will be, most likely, published in the Conference Proceedings.
Also, I wrote a personal impression (in Dutch) of the conference itself that I found eyeopening because of the extreme diversity of disciplines and subjects. As a literary scholar of Dutch literature the question how to present your research to people working in totally different fields of study is not just challenging, it is also essential for our self understanding.