Stephan Besser is Assistant professor of Dutch Studies (Moderne Nederlandse letterkunde) at the UvA and coordinator of the ASCA research group 'Neuroaesthetics and Neurocultures'. He also serves as the program director of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL).
Stephan's current research focuses on 'worldings' of the brain in contemporary neuroculture and the isomorphic imagination of shared patterns, homologies and resonances between between neural structures and the world at large. He studies these discourses and imageries in contemporary film, literature, social theory and works of (popular) neuroscience. In his current research, Stephan also explores notions of celebrality and psychopathology in Dutch literature and configurations of literature, science and culture in general. His previous work has been devoted to the cultural history of German colonialism and discourses of disease and madness in Dutch, German and Anglophone literature.
Of we inderdaad ons brein 'zijn' is heftig omstreden, maar dat er tegenwoordig niet aan de hersenen te ontsnappen valt, zal niemand tegenspreken. Met ongekende intensiteit en fascinatie wordt sinds een paar jaar in Nederland in de meest diverse contexten gesproken over de hersenen als biologisch substraat en ultieme bron van onze identiteit: van rechtsgeleerdheid tot politiek en van talkshows tot literatuur. De neurowetenschap lijkt daarbij de rol van master narrative te claimen dat een nieuw mensbeeld neerzet. Met dit dossier wil Parmentier een bijdrage leveren aan de verkenning van het politieke, sociale en literaire leven van de hersenen. Het dossier bevat bijdragen van Jan Slaby, Stephan Besser, Toine Hovers, Patricia Pisters, Flora Lysen, Jan Lauwereyns, Leo Vroman, Frank Keizer en Han van der Vegt.
This study analyses the imagination of the tropics as a space of disease, madness and infection in German colonial culture around 1900. It introduces the notion of the dispositive of tropical medicine ( tropenmedizinische Dispositiv) in order to describe the construction of disease entities such as Tropenkoller (tropical frenzy), tropical neurasthenia and tropical fever as the result of interdiscursive exchanges between medicine, psychiatry, literature and various other discourses. The case studies include detailed analyses of the poetics of Tropenfieber in works by Robert Koch and Thomas Mann, the semantics and materialities of tropical neurasthenia and vitalist constructions of the tropics in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and in expressionist poetry. Special attention is given to the discursive nexus of malaria, race and immunity in German tropical hygiene at the beginning of the 20th century. Methodologically, the study combines David Arnold's notion of 'tropicality' with insights from postcolonial studies and recent approaches to the poetics of knowledge.
Experiences of migration and dwelling-in-displacement impinge upon the lives of an ever increasing number of people worldwide, with business class comfort but more often with unrelenting violence. In the last decades, the political and cultural realities of global migration have led to a growing interest in the different forms of diasporic existence and identities. The articles in this book do not focus on the 'external' boundaries of diaspora - what is diasporic and what is not? - but on one of its most important 'internal' boundaries, which is indicated by the second term in the title of this book: memory. It is not by chance that the 'right' to remember, the 'responsibility' to recall, are central issues of the debates in diasporic communities and their relation to their cultural and political surroundings. The relation of diaspora and memory contains important critical and maybe even subversive potentials. Memory can transcend the territorial logic of dispersal and return, and emerge as a competing source of diasporic identity. The articles in this volume explore how, shaped by the responsibilities of testimony as well as by the normalizing forces of amnesia and forgetting and political interests, memory is a performative, figurative process rather than a secure space of identity. Authors include: Carol Bardenstein, Andreas Huyssen, Marianne Hirsch, Silke Horstkotte, EstherPeeren, Soko Phay-Vakalis and Sylvie Rollet.