Prof.dr. F.W.A. (Frans-Willem) Korsten

  • Senior lecturer
  • Extraordinary professor (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Literary studies

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2196
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Centre for the Arts in Society, Literatuurwetenschap
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
van Wijkplaats 2
2311 BX Leiden
Room number 1.02c
Personal Homepage:​lucas/​members-modern-contemporary

Fields of interest

Rhetoric (classical and modern)
Literature and politics
Literature and law
Politico-cultural organisation of Europe
Theatricality and dramatization
(Pre-) history of capitalism
Theory and close reading


Initially, my research focused on ideology criticism, rhetoric and politics. After completing my PhD thesis, in which I combined narratology with argumentation theory in an analysis of cultural critical texts, I wrote a new introduction to literary studies: Lessons in Literature, in which I combined a selection of historical periods in European literature with twelve different approaches to literature and with short analytical explorations. This book helped me to define better my interest in the major historical and cultural lines, nodes and recurring problems in the politico-cultural organization of Europe. Then I moved towards the theme of sovereignty in plays by the seventeenth century, baroque playwright Joost van den Vondel. This part of my research resulted in Vondel belicht: voorstellingen van soevereiniteit, Hilversum: Verloren, 2006), which was thoroughly rewritten in English. The result was Sovereignty as inviolability (Hilversum: Verloren, 2009).

I am now wrapping up the baroque Vondel-phase as co-editor of Joost van den Vondel: Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age (Leiden: Brill, 2012). Meanwhile, in 2007, I started a new line of research. The points of connection between my former and recent research are: the Dutch Republic as a proto-capitalist society; Spinoza and the way in which he was reread by Deleuze and in radical Italian political theories from the seventies and eighties; the issue of theatricality and dramatization; and the relation between literature, art, sovereignty and justice. Finally, another but closely connected thread is ‘close reading’: either of texts of or cities.

Curriculum vitae

F.W.A. Korsten (1959): At Utrecht University I studied Dutch Literature first, and then Comparative Literature and Literary Theory. I wrote my PhD thesis at the University of Amsterdam, with Mieke Bal and Frans van Eemeren as promotors. Since 2007 I hold the endowed chair in Literature and Society at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication). Since 2013 I am connected as a part-time lector to the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, in particular with the Piet Zwart Institute.

I have been working mainly at the department of Film- and Literary Studies of Leiden University since 1998.

From January 2010 to September 2013 I was Director of Education of LUCAS, the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

I was responsible for the NWO internationalisation program Post/autonomia and precarity – the global heritage (2010-2014).

I worked for the national Council for Culture as chairman for the section Letters, and I was a member of the Rotterdam Council for Culture.

I was member of assessment committees for the Norwegian Research Council and for NWO. I am a member of the editorial board (with Boom-The Hague Publishers) that is concerned with a new series of introductions into the philosophy of science (so far, I edited four volumes); member of the editorial board of the open access Journal of Dutch Literature (AUP). 


  • June 2001, Leiden: Aldin Kaizilege Mutembei (with prof. dr. Mineke Schipper), Poetry and AIDS in Tanzania : changing metaphors and metonymies in Haya oral traditions
  • June 2011, Leiden: Helmer Helmers, cum laude (co-promotor: dr. Ton Hoenselaars), The Royalist Republic : literature, politics and religion in the Anglo-Dutch public sphere, 1639-1660
  • December 2012, Leiden: Marie Anne Coebergh - Van der Marck (co-promotor dr. Janneke Lam), In de ban van het incestverbod : analyse van een historische omslag in de verbeelding van erotiek tussen broer en zuster
  • May 2013, Amsterdam: Tammy Lynn Castelein (with prof. dr. Hent de Vries), No more Heroes: Heidegger Between the Wars.
  • December 2014, Leiden: Aamir Aziz, Theatre as Truth Practice: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible – a Play Waiting for the Occasion
  • December 2014, Gent: Adam Hall, (with professors Jürgen Pieters and Sandro Jung): Renaissance Metonymy and Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Close to being finished:
  • Berrie Vugts (co-promotor dr. Yasco Horsman) on the idea of animal rights in literature and art
  • Marrigje Paijmans (with professors Lia van Gemert and Frans Blom – UvA), on the work of Vondel in the light of Foucault’s parrhêsia;

In progress (alphabetically):
  • Marijn van Dijk (co-promotor: Kornee van der Haven) on language and images as music in early modern works of art;
  • Frank van Doeselaar (with prof. dr. Yra van Dijk) on the historical novel in the work of Rosenboom and modes of cinematographic reading;
  • Cui Chen (co-promotor: dr. Maria Boletsi) on the history and representation of savagery;
  • Gerlov van Engelenhoven (co-promotor: dr. Joost Augustein) on lacking forms of cultural iconography and prefiguration with regard to Dutch-Moluccan military acts of political protest, in comparison with the IRA;
  • Inge ’t Hart (with prof. Peter Liebregts) on modes of reading post-forensic detective series in the light of post-humanism;
  • Anna Köberich (co-promotores dr. Yasco Horsman and Joshua Oppenheimer), on the concept of judgment in documentaries made by director Joshua Oppenheimer in relation to the Indonesian massacre of communists in the sixties of the 20th century;
  • Tine Nederveen (co-promotor: dr. Liesbeth Minnaard) on the issue of solidarity and truth in the work of Jacob Israel de Haan;
  • Mark O’Donnel (co-promotores dr. Madeleine Kasten and dr. Jan-Frans van Dijkhuizen) on reading Donne’s religious poetry in terms of its historical re-enactment;
  • Sara Polak (with prof. dr. Peter Liebregts) on the fabrication of memory in the legacy of F.D. Roosevelt;
  • Steve Rushton (co-promotores dr. Eric de Bruyn and dr. Yasco Horsman); on the concept of cybernetics in relation to specific machines in the context of its American-European trajectory;
  • Jack Segbars, in the PhDarts program The Hague (co-promotor Joost de Bloois - UvA) on processes of automization in contemporary art practice;
  • Bart Vieveen (co-promotor dr. Peter Verstraten) on the Hamlet machine in iconic modern Dutch literature, theatre and cinema


  • Together with dr. Bram Ieven (UU): (Rotterdam, June 2010) ;
  • Together with dr. Joost de Bloois (UvA) and dr. Monica Jansen (UU): ‘What is post/autonomia today?’; first conference in a set of three; to be followed by two conferences in the years 2012-2013 organised by international partners: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor (Michigan), and Paris Nanterre.
  • Together with Yasco Horsman (UL); (Leiden, May 2014)

Teaching activities

  • Three time nominee for best teacher of the University of Leiden.
  • Responsible for the Honours College program of the Institute for Cultural Disciplines. 
  •  Introduction to Literary Studies
  • Literary Analysis - Introduction to Theatrical Media
  • Rhetoric
  • Theatricality and Dramatisation
  • Literature and Politics
  • Literature and Law


  • 2014 (to be published)
  • with Joost de Bloois, ‘Qu’aura été la Précarité ? Futurs possibles d’un Concept’. In : Sylvia Contarini & Luca Marsi, Avoir le courage de l’incertitude ». Les cultures de la précarité. Presses Universitaires de France, 2014.
  • with Joost de Bloois en Monica Jansen, ‘From Autonomism to Post-Autonomia: A Political Anthropology Beyond Self-Valorisation and Mediation Phobia’. Introduction to special issue of Rethinking Marxism -          with Bennett Carpenter, ‘Corporate personhood as inhuman: the paradigm of asbestos cases and Dracula’. Quaderni 84 ‘La radicalité ouvrière en mots et en actes’.
  • ‘Enhancing the body’s powers to act: Bringing art (back) down to earth’, In: Rick Dolphijn en Rosi Braidotti (eds), The Deleuzian Century: Art, Activism, Society. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 
  • ‘Unreasonability, Style, and Pretiosity’. In: Federico Luisetti, John Pickles (eds) The Anomy of the Earth. Duke University Press.
  • ‘Poet/healer/judge: Literature as cicatrix – the case of Maria Dermoût’. In: Jaap Grave, Rick Honings, Bettina Noak (eds.) Illness and Literature.  Berlin.
  • (ed.) Herman Paul, Kernthema’s in de geschiedwetenschap. Den Haag: Boom, 2014.
  • with Daniël Rovers, Piet Joostens, Frank Keizer, Marieke Winkler (eds.),
  • ‘De intensiteit van wat ‘raakt’: collectiviteit en de simultane werking van tekst en intertekst in Tonnus Oosterhoff’. In Yra van Dijk (ed.), Draden in het donker: Intertekstualiteit in theorie en praktijk. Nijmegen, pp. 307-324.
  • 'Rehearsal in Occurrent Art'. In: Of More than One Voice. pp. 89-143
  • Revolution Fabrication Convulsion: Bringing Art (Back) Down to Earth'. In: Frame. Tijdschrift voor Literatuurwetenschap. 25(2). 
  • Frans-Willem Korsten & Jan Bloemendal (eds), Joost van den Vondel. Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age. Leiden: Brill (618 pp.). isbn 9789004217539.
  • ‘Vondel’s Dramas: Ways of Relating Past and Present’. History in the Present’. In  Frans-Willem Korsten & Jan Bloemendal (eds.), Joost van den Vondel. Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 23-50. isbn 9789004217539.
  • Close reading - The David Plays. In  Frans-Willem Korsten & Jan Bloemendal (eds.), Joost van den Vondel. Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 427-445. isbn 9789004217539.
  • (together with Mieke Bal, Maaike Bleeker & Bennett Carpenter), ‘Cultural Analysis – The Joseph Plays’. In  Frans-Willem Korsten & Jan Bloemendal (eds.), Joost van den Vondel. Dutch Playwright in the Golden Age. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 317-340. isbn 9789004217539.
  • Interruption, or the Moment of Parabasis: A Short Play on Edward C. Thomson's ‘Selbstzweck'.
  • ‘The Invention of the Moment: Telescope, Literalness and Baroque Theatricality of the World’. Maria Leuker (ed.),  Visualität in der niederländischen Literatur und Kunst des 17. Jahrhunderts. Munster/New Yoprk: Waxmann. Pp. 261-276. isbn 978-3-8309-2725-9.
  • Mundus Dramaticus: A School Drama and Dramatization – Franciscus van den Enden’, In: Jan Bloemendal, Peter G.F. Eversmann and Elsa Strietman (eds), Drama, Performance and Debate: Theatre and Public Opinion in the Early Modern Period. Leiden: Brill.
  • 'Apostrophe, witnessing, and its essentially theatrical modes of address – Maria Dermôut on Pattimura and Kara Walker on the New Orleans flooding’. Caroline Nevejan & Satinder Gill (eds), special issue of AI & SOCIETY : Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Communication, pp. 13-23. issn 0951-5666 (print version); issn 1435-5655 (electronic version)
  • ‘Refusing to live in a nice world: minimal conditions for the collective’. Maja Bekan & Irene Kromhout (eds.), Our House in the Middle of the Street: 10 jaar kunsthuis SYB. Beesterzwaag: Stichting SYB. Pp. 139-142. 
  • ‘Simulation’. George Ritzer (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization. Hoboken: Wiley. -          (together with Bram Ieven) ‘Sovereignty’. George Ritzer (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization. Hoboken: Wiley.
  • ‘Facing it: sovereignty and how to live with theft and violence in law – the case of Karel ende Elegast’. In Journal for Dutch Literature 2. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Pp 57-78. Issn 221-0879; isbn 9789089643766. 
  • Together with Piet Joostens en Daniël Rovers: Jeroen Mettes, Weerstandsbeleid. Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek. (373 pp.) Isbn 9789028424203.
  • Together with Piet Joostens en Daniël Rovers: Jeroen Mettes, N30+. Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek. (263 pp.). Isbn 9789028424210.
  • ‘Moments of Indecision, Sovereign Possibilities – Notes on the Tableau Vivant’. In Willemien Otten, Arjo Vanderjagt & Hent de Vries (eds.), How the West Was Won. Essays on Literary Imagination, the Canon, and the Christian Middle Ages for Burcht Pranger. Leiden: Brill. Pp 17-38. isbn 13: 978 90 04 18496 1/
  • Sovereignty as Inviolability: Vondel’s Theatrical Explorations in the Dutch Republic. Hilversum: Verloren. isbn 978 90 8704 028-4
  • ‘The Irreconcilability of Hypocrisy and Sincerity.’ Ernst van Alphen (e.a. eds.), The Rhetoric of Sincerity. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pp. 60-79.

  • Plaats vinden: Literatuur in een gespleten stad - Rotterdam. Rotterdam: Douane.
  • ‘Loss of Face or the Next Sentence.’ Katarina Zdjelar & Renée Ridgway, Another Publication. Rotterdam: Revolver. Pp. 13-17. isbn 978 3 86588 375 9

  • All Inclusive! The Poetic and Capitalism – Alles inclusief! het poëtische en het kapitalisme. Rotterdam: Douane. isbn 978 90 72247 10 0

  • Vondel belicht: voorstellingen van soevereiniteit. Hilversum: Verloren. isbn 90 6550 9348

  • Lessen in literatuur. Revised, second edition. Nijmegen: Vantilt. isbn 90 77503 46 3

  • Together with E.J. van Alphen (eds.) ‘Hoe verder? Toekomstperspectieven in de Studie van de Nederlandse Letterkunde.’ Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 4:120. Pp.289-297. issn 0040 7550  

Last Modified: 10-12-2015