100 years of Dutch Studies in London

UCL hosts the oldest Department of Dutch in the Anglophone world. Founded in 1919 with support from the Royal Netherlands Embassy and Anglo-Dutch business circles, it was here that Dutch first attained the status of a serious academic discipline. The first incumbent of the Chair for Dutch Studies became the later famous historian Pieter Geyl (1919–1923).

Because of the great success, in 1923 the Chair was split into a historical and a literary Chair with illustrious scholars such as Peter Harting (1923–1925), Jacob Haantjes (1925–1931), Theodoor Weevers (1931–1971), Reinder Meijers (1971–1993) and Reinier Salverda (1993–2006) following Geyl on the Chair for Dutch literature, as well as Jane Fenoulhet and Theo Hermans, to name but the full professors.


Today, UCL Dutch offers a full range of under-graduate and graduate degree programmes and provides a uniquely supportive environment for those studying Dutch language, literature, history and society from the early modern period to the present.

In addition to the department’s own staff, visiting lecturers and professors from the Netherlands and Flanders together with visiting students from Dutch and Flemish universities ensure regular contact between the department and the Dutch-speaking countries. Various other UCL departments, including History, History of Art and Geography, have academic staff with highly specialised expertise covering the Low Countries.

UCL also houses one of the largest Dutch libraries in the Anglophone world, in a separate section of the UCL Library, is the main library resource for students of Dutch. The holdings consist of some 12,000 volumes on the language, literature, history and culture of the Low Countries, supplemented by a large collection of periodicals. Most of the books are directly accessible on open shelves. The range of topics and periods covered is extensive and provides plenty of scope for independent study.


The department’s research interests are varied, broadly encompassing: Dutch language and literature in all periods, Dutch and Belgian political and cultural history, especially the modern and contemporary period; intercultural and transnational studies; sociolinguistics of Dutch, translation studies and comparative literature, as well as digital humanities.

UCL Dutch is also the editorial home of Dutch Crossing, the award-winning interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal of Low Countries Studies in the English language. Published since 1977, Dutch Crossing is devoted to all aspects of Low Countries Studies: history and art history of the Low Countries, Dutch and Flemish (and occasionally Afrikaans) literary and cultural studies, linguistics of Dutch and Dutch as a foreign language, and intercultural and transnational studies. Coverage includes both the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as other places where Dutch historically had or continues to have an impact, including parts of the Americas, Southern Africa and South-East Asia. A special focus concerns relations between the Low Countries and the Anglophone world in all periods from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Many of UCL Dutch’s research publications and translations of Dutch and Flemish literature into English have been published in the Global Dutch series of UCL Press, the UK’s first Open Access university press, from whose website they can be downloaded freely.

Writers in Residence

Lisa Weeda, UCL Dutch Writer in Residence 2019

UCL Dutch hosts an annual Writer in Residence scheme funded by the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) and the Nederlands Letterenfonds (Dutch Literary Fund). It allows a Dutch or a Flemish writer to spend up to six weeks at UCL, on an annual basis. The Writer in Residence engages with students as well as staff in the Department, and actively contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, as well as present an evening event.

Lisa Weeda, author of De benen van Petrovski (2016), will be our 2019 Writer in Residence and kick off a year full of exciting Dutch & Flemish cultural and academic events to celebrate our centenary in March.

Previous Writers in Residence have included such acclaimed authors as: Maud Vanhauwaert, Maarten van der Graaff, Rebecca de Wit, Carmien Michels, Abdelkader Benali, Joost Zwagerman, Gerbrand Bakker, Isabel Hoving, Kader Abdolah, Pieter Frans Thomése, Thomas Rosenboom, Hafid Bouazza, J. Bernlef, Marcel Möring, Leo Pleysier, H. C. ten Berge, Arnon Grunberg, Frank Martinus Arion, Tessa de Loo, Hans Maarten van den Brink, Helga Ruebsamen, and Arthur Japin.


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