15 September 2017

Interview with Geert Buelens in alumni magazine Illuster

Literature is everywhere in the city

© iStockphoto.com/sekulicn
© iStockphoto.com/sekulicn

Last June, mayor of Utrecht Jan van Zanen signed the application for UNESCO City of Literature on behalf of the city of Utrecht. If Utrecht is awarded the title will be announced at the end of 2017. Utrecht University's alumni magazine Illuster interviewed Prof. Geert Buelens (Comparative Literature) together with Director of Het Literatuurhuis ('The House of Literature') Michaël Stoker about the visibility of literature in the city.

Prof. dr. Geert Buelens
Prof. Geert Buelens

Literary festivals, lectures, poetry slams and other events are omnipresent in Utrecht. "It’s not surprising that festivals and other events are doing so well," says Buelens. "The more culture we consume through headphones and screens while sequestered away in our apartments, the greater our apparent need for experiences that we can literally share with one another — not by sending each other links, but by actually experiencing them together."

Humanities and literature

The academic and literary life in Utrecht are not two different worlds, according to both Stoker and Buelens. "At the end of the day, everything in the humanities comes back to literature," Buelens says. "Research no longer focuses on just the literary work and its context. It’s also about how people use texts and what they mean to people. That’s always been an important part of the study of literature."

At the end of the day, everything in the humanities comes back to literature.
Geert Buelens