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Heynders, O.M.

Heynders, O.M.

Odile Heynders, born in Breda, the Netherlands, in 1961. Ph.D. from Tilburg University. Assistant Professor at the Department of Theory and History of Literature at Tilburg University.

Fellow (1 September 2004 – 30 June 2005)


During my stay at NIAS, I worked on two projects. Most of my time was spent writing a book on the comparative reading of poetry: “Correspondenties, over de noodzaak van het lezen van poëzie”. This monograph deals with a particular method of reading poetry based on a new inter-textual approach known as ‘Corresponding reading’. (cf. Harold Blooms, The Anxiety of Influence). It involves positioning one text in the context of another in order to analyse and emphasise differences and similarities between poems and their way of assigning meaning. In the book, I re-interpret standard literary-historical interpretations of poems by juxtaposing work by the following poets: Guido Gezelle compared to Gerard Manley Hopkins; Herman Gorter in the context of P.B. Shelley and Walt Whitman; Hans Faverey compared to Paul Celan; S. Vestdijk in the light of Wallace Stevens; Willem Frederik Hermans compared to Paul Éluard; Eva Gerlach in comparison to Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath and finally Maurice Gilliam in the light of R.M. Rilke. I hope this book, which will consist of seven chapters, will challenge readers to compare their own combinations of poems in order to gain a new understanding of how meaning in poetry functions.

The second project I have been working on focused on postmodern poetry in Dutch literature. I planned to do research on the ethics and politics of this poetry and on the position of women poets in the debates. The first plan has been worked out in a conference-paper and an article. During the year, I realised that I was working more and more on American postmodern poetry in confrontation with Dutch postmodern poetry. By contrasting both traditions of poetry, I constructed a more complicated view on the dividing of ethics, politics and engagement in the postmodern poems. The ideas and poetry of John Ashbery and others will further be used to elucidate some aspects of the ethical dimensions of current poetry in Dutch.

NIAS is not only the perfect place for concentrated writing and reading, but also for thinking about future plans. I made a draft for a book on the intensities of watching, observation and reflection in novels and poems that describe the visual arts. The working title of this book will be “Painting in Literature”. Two articles I wrote this year at NIAS will, hopefully, form the basis of a forthcoming monograph.