U-M hosted the 18th biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies (ICNS) June 2–4. Organized by Dutch and Flemish Studies in collaboration with the American Association for Netherlandic Studies (AANS), the conference provided a forum for scholars and instructors to discuss their work in the area of Dutch culture, language and history.
The conference was opened by Geert De Proost, General Representative of the Government of Flanders in the US. His review of Flemish history in the US and in Michigan provided a local context for conference participants arriving from over 10 countries. His discussion of a shared Dutch-Flemish history and culture formed a fitting start to the conference theme of “Imagining the Low Lands.” Associate Dean for the Humanities, Anne Curzan, introduced the Representative and lauded the conference as an example of interdisciplinarity in the humanities.
The regular conference sessions of over 40 paper presentations were preceded by the docentendag (instructor day), a professional development day for instructors of Dutch at North-American universities. Peter Schoenaerts, theater actor and Dutch second language specialist, led the instructors in a day-long workshop on the use of media and theater in the Dutch language classroom.
ICNS 2016 provided unique connections between culture and scholarship in a series of special events and exhibits. In an excursion to the Detroit Institute of Arts, participants learned about Netherlandish art in the DIA collection before appreciating the specific art in person. They enjoyed a special lecture by Diederik Oostdijk (VU Amsterdam) on the Netherlands Carillon at Arlington National Cemetery before climbing U-M's Burton Tower to the Baird Carillon platform and feeling the bells toll selections of its dedication music, as performed by U-M Associate Professor of Carillon, Tiffany Ng, and U-M Dutch program alumna Sipkje Pesnichak.
A special session on the Circulation of Dutch Literature (CoDL) project by scholars from the Huygens Institute (Netherlands), Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), and KU Leuven (Belgium), was followed by a display of a subset of the University Library’s impressive Dutch holdings. Professor of Papyrology and Greek, Arthur Verhoogt, treated participants to a selection of the university’s famous papyrology collection. The conference ended at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens with a banquet and a beautiful and powerful keynote address “Wringing Beauty from an Obscure Language” by former U-M Director of Dutch and Flemish studies and ICNS/AANS veteran Ton Broos.
Conference space was generously provided by the International Institute and the School of Social Work. We thank our university sponsors, the Nederlandse Taalunie, the Government of Flanders, and the Netherlands America University League for their generous support of the conference.