Research and Society

Digital humanities project on influence of US on Dutch public debate receives 2 million euros from NWO
Statue of Liberty, USA © iStockphoto.com/anharris

How has the United States served as a cultural model for the Netherlands in the twentieth century? Cultural historians, information scientists, and text-mining experts at Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, in The Hague, will address this question in an innovative manner in the HORIZON-programme 'E-Humanity Approaches to Reference Cultures: The Emergence of the United States in Public Discourse in the Netherlands, 1890-1990', which has received a Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) research grant of €2 million.

See also the new Digital Humanities website.

International conference ‘Minding Animals’
Minding Animals conference

From ‘animal cops’ to ‘mega sheds’: our relationships with animals are multifaceted and often contradictory. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Ethics Institute organised the international ‘Minding Animals’ conference 2012, held at Utrecht University from 3 to 6 July. The conference covered a wide range of scientific, ethical and social issues related to human interactions with and uses of animals.
Read more: www.uu.nl/hum/mindinganimals

Hiking Traces of Slavery in Utrecht
Wandelgids Sporen van slavernij in Utrecht

It may not be obvious, but in the city of Utrecht many traces of slavery and the colonial past can be found. On 26 June the Centre for the Humanities presented the bilingual Hiking Traces of Slavery in Utrecht (‘Wandelgids sporen van slavernij in Utrecht’), in which historian Esther Captain guides the walker along houses in the Utrecht city centre that were once the homes of VOC servants, plantation owners, former slaves and freed men and women from the East as well as the West, and advocates of the abolition of slavery.
Read more: www.sporenvanslavernijutrecht.nl (in Dutch)

New database: Arthurian fiction in medieval Europe
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

The new research tool www.arthurianfiction.org provides information on medieval Arthurian narratives and the manuscripts in which they are transmitted throughout Europe. The ‘Arthurian Fiction’ database was compiled in the course of the NWO-project ‘Arthurian Fiction: A Pan-European Approach’ (2004-2008) under the supervision of Dr Bart Besamusca at Utrecht University.

Much talked-about books: Op weg naar Armageddon. De evolutie van fanatisme and God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason
God in the Age of Science?, Op weg naar Armageddon

Of the many books published by scholars of our Faculty this year, some in particular gained the attention of a wide audience. God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason by philosopher and university professor Herman Philipse is a critical examination of strategies for the philosophical defence of religious belief. He presents the main options as the end nodes of a decision tree for religious believers.

In Op weg naar Armageddon. De evolutie van fanatisme Bob de Graaff (professor of Intelligence and Security Studies) traces the history of violent attempts to establish utopian states, from the Middle Ages to the present. Religious and secular fanaticism are not in the least exclusive for our times. Terrorism expert De Graaff discusses religous and political-philosophical movements in which fanaticism features or featured: from Christian radicalism via secular forms such as communism, anarchism and fascism to the present-day forms of Islamic terrorism and the Iranian theocracy.

Utrecht linguists launch website on bilingual education
Tweetalig opgroeien

In February the website www.growingupbilingual.org /www.tweetaligopgroeien.org was launched, an initiative of Utrecht linguists Ivana Brasileiro, Manuela Pinto and Sharon Unsworth. The site was especially designed to provide support and information to all those who are interested in the education of bilingual children.  The researchers developed the site at the request of many of the parents who participated in their workshops on bilingual education.


Thomas Boeschoten appointed member of research committee ProjectX Haren
Rellen © iStockphoto.com/jentakespictures

Thomas Boeschoten, student New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University, has become a member of the committee led by Job Cohen that investigates the ‘ProjectX’ riots in Haren. Boeschoten was the initiator of a ‘hackathon’ held on 4 October, where data specialists gathered to analyse ca. 500,000 tweets sent during the riots. Boeschoten has been asked as a committee member because of his expertise in the fields of  social media and social media analytics.

Alumni help TCS students with labour market orientation

The Bachelor's programme Taal- en cultuurstudies (TCS) has started the project SAMEN, which offers TCS students the opportunity to share experiences with an alumnus who acts as a mentor. The project aims to increase the Bachelor students’ awareness of their career opportunities.

Students discover fragment of 14th-century didactic poem about the cosmos
Fragment van 14e-eeuwse 'Natuurkunde van het geheelal', Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht

During their internship at the University Library, three Humanities students have discovered a fragment of a previously unknown Middle Dutch manuscript. It turns out to be a fragment of the Natuurkunde van het geheelal, a didactic poem about the cosmos, from the last quarter of the 14th century. The fragment contains text about thunder, lightning and devils. By entering the text in Google, the students easily traced its origin from the Natuurkunde van het geheelal.

Roel van den Assem (Nederlandse taal en cultuur, major in Middle Dutch Literature), Femke van Hilten (Taal- en cultuurstudies, major in Medieval Literature) and Kristien Lammers (Taal- en cultuurstudies, major in Medieval History) were supervised by manuscripts conservator Bart Jaski during their internship.

Faculty’s student ambassadors write weblogs about student life

Thesis frustrations, the distraction of sun-drenched outdoor cafés during classes, amazement about fellow students who smoothly seem to combine study and job, and taking exams while you’re having the flu... Since March, ten students are active as online ambassadors for the Faculty of Humanities. In weblogs they share their experiences in (student) life - most of them in words, some of them in pictures. The blogs may give prospective students an impression of what it’s like to study at the Faculty of Humanities. Besides, fellow students, alumni and staff members may also read the blogs with interest and recognition.
Read more: http://oa.hum.uu.nl/

Historian Laurien Crump is Young Lecturer Talent 2011-2012
Laurien Crump (midden) met de studenten die haar hebben voorgedragen

Laurien Crump has been awarded Utrecht University’s annual prize for Young Lecturer Talent. The award was announced during the Education Parade, a day organised to highlight the education offered at Utrecht University. According to students, in her courses Laurien plays the rol of a conductor who, by asking critical and challenging questions, brings her students to a higher level”, so said the jury.