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Sophie van den Elzen is a PhD Candidate at the department of Languages, Literature and Communication. During her MRes in Comparative Literary Studies at UU she specialized in memory studies, and she has a particular interest in the cultures and rhetoric of nineteenth-century activism. She is also interested in new methodologies developed in the digital humanities.

After spending a year as an ESL teacher in Kraków and Strasbourg, she was awarded  a grant in the “PhDs in the Humanities” funding programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to start her research project “La femme esclave:” Afterlives of Slavery and Abolitionism in Women’s Rights Movements in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, 1832-1914. She conducts her research under supervision of Prof. dr. Ann Rigney and Prof. dr. Berteke Waaldijk, in connection  with the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) at Utrecht University.

The project examines the ways in which women’s rights discourses in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth were informed by the cultural memory of the antislavery struggle. Over the course of the long nineteenth century, the model of slavery and abolition was routinely invoked to express injustices suffered by women and mobilize for change, starting in 1832 when Saint-Simonian women in Paris invoked the language of abolitionism to legitimate their campaign for women’s rights, inciting public indignation.

From the “slavery” of married women to the “white slavery” of prostitution, the project seeks to answer the question: How did the cultural memory of the abolitionist movement in the Anglo-American world, carried into Europe by narratives in text and images, inform and help shape the discourse of women’s rights movements in Germany, France and the Netherlands? At the empirical level, the project will provide a new understanding of the international entanglements of social movements over a longer period; theoretically, it will add to our understanding of the transnational dynamics of cultural memory and reception processes by examining the unexpected ‘afterlives’ of the particularly evocative cultural narrative of antislavery as it changes over time and moves across space; methodologically, it seeks to mobilize methods of literary research to better understand discourses of social activism, developing a model for mapping reception through processes of dissemination, translation, and appropriation across borders.

Scientific expertise
cultural memory
Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
periodical studies
history of feminism
political activism and rhetoric
antislavery and abolitionism
Gegenereerd op 2017-06-26 15:58:27
Curriculum vitae Download PDF
Gegenereerd op 2017-06-26 15:58:27
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S.S.M. van den Elzen MA Contact details
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Gegenereerd op 2017-06-26 15:58:27
Last updated 08.06.2017