“We've known what's wrong with the Earth for fifty years.”

Research focus: environmental history, cultural history, climate crisis, modern Dutch literature, poetry, nationalism, avant-garde, literature and culture in times of crisis and upheaval

Geert Buelens (1971) is a Flemish poet, essayist, columnist and Professor of Modern Dutch Literature at Utrecht University and a guest professor of Dutch Literature at Stellenbosch University (South Africa).

Focus on interaction between literature and society

His research focuses on how writers and other artists deal with moments of crisis. Among other things, he has written about European poets of the First World War, the global cultural upheaval of the 1960s, the history of Flemish poetry, the impact of Flemish literature on the Flemish Movement, literature and (de)colonisation and cultural responses to the environmental and climate crisis. His new book Wat we toen al wisten (January 2022) is about the environmental year 1972: the report Grenzen aan de groei of the Club of Rome, the first UN conference on the environment and other important scientific, political and cultural aspects of the global environmental crisis. The book was longlisted for the Jan Wolkers Prize and was awarded the Boon Prize for Best Fiction or Non-Fiction book of 2022.

Publication of poetry collection ‘Ofwa’

In August 2020 his poetry collection Ofwa was published. Buelens' poems deal with the problems facing humanity today, specifically on social media and in the form of the climate crisis. Although they are not exactly cheerful, according to Buelens they are not meant to criticize people on their own. Because, as he himself says: "I am, of course, also part of the problem. I hope it can be useful to say that in so many words, to pronounce it".


Modern Dutch Literature
Inaugural lecture date