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12 December - 13 December 2019
Open to the public

Stranger things: rethinking defamiliarization in literature and visual culture


Current fellow Nilgun Bayraktar will convene a workshop on the strikingly undertheorized notion of defamiliarization.

Conference Stranger Things, 12-13 December 2019, Amsterdam, NIAS | Open to the public. Registration will open in November.

Organizers: Dr Nilgun Bayraktar (California College of the Arts; NIAS) and Dr Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen). Please specify which day(s) you want to attend when you register.

The notion of defamiliarization is strikingly undertheorized; in order to find a systematic reflection on the topic, we need to go back to the Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky’s work on ostranenie in literature in the early 20th century or to German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s theorization of Verfremdungseffekt in the 1930s to describe theatrical devices that break audiences’ passive absorption in theatrical illusion.

Defamiliarizing practices today play a key role in contemporary artworks engaging with highly topical issues, such as migration, climate change or the rise of right-wing populist discourses. Whether we are dealing with retro-futuristic dystopias, films breaking the fourth wall, or darkly humorous cartoons, defamiliarization can be an effective tool for political activation – one based on formal innovation, rather than on content or on superficial emotional engagement.

But how exactly can we distinguish between different forms of defamiliarization? How can we investigate its effects on the reader/viewer? How does defamiliarization relate to neighboring notions such as the weird, the eerie, or the uncanny?


Keynote Speakers: Prof. Dr. Caroline Levine (Cornell University) and Prof. Dr. Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University)

Plenary Speakers: Prof. Dr. Esther Pereen (UvA), Dr. Maria Boletsi (UvA), Lora Sariaslan (UvA), Prof. Dr. Pablo Valdivia (RUG, OSL), Dr. Florian Lippert (RUG), Dr. Camilla Sutherland (RUG), Ruby de Vos (RUG), Dr. Christian Kirchmeier (RUG), Dr. Alberto Godioli (RUG, OSL), Dr. Nilgun Bayraktar (NIAS, CCA)

Artists’ Panel: Prof. Dr. Mieke Bal, Alaa Minawi