Dutch and Flemish Studies at the University of Michigan
The roots of the University of Michigan's Dutch and Flemish Studies Program can be traced back to the immediate aftermath of World War Two. Since then, it has grown to become a major resource for the dissemination and study of Dutch and Flemish culture for U-M students, the State of Michigan, and beyond.
In addition to a strong, four-semester language sequence, our course offerings include classes on Anne Frank, an undergraduate honors seminar entitled "Dutch Colonialism and its Aftermath," and a variety of independent studies. Dutch and Flemish Studies enjoys good relations with many other units at the University of Michigan, including Linguistics, Art History, History, South and South East Asian Studies, and Political Science.
View Netherlandic Treasures from the U-M Special Collections Library.
Contact Annemarie Toebosch, Dutch lecturer, at 734.764.5370, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1996, the Dutch Studies Program was further enriched by the addition of the De Vries/Vanderkooy Memorial Lecture. Jan de Vries, a Dutch physician with the World Health Organization who taught at the University of Michigan, and Meindert Vanderkooy, Director of Plant Operations at U of M, were instrumental in the formation of the Netherlands America University League in Ann Arbor. In honor of their extraordinary efforts to promote the study of the language and culture of the Low Countries, the annual De Vries/Vanderkooy Memorial Lecture has been held annually since 1996. Previous speakers have included Richard Lauwaars, a member of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (1996), the renowned poet and award-winning biologist Leo Vroman on the "common ground" between science and the arts (1997), the humanitarian and heroine of the Dutch Resistance Marion VanBinsbergen Pritchard, who saved more than an hundred Jewish children (1998), the great scholar of Dutch-Indies literature E. M. Beekman (1999), the physician and Dutch parliamentarian Corrie Hermann (2000), and Holocaust survivors Jaap Polak and Ina Soep (2001). E. M. Beekman's wonderful lecture on Rumphius and Dermout, "A Different Magic: What a Naturalist Taught a Novelist," has since been published in a beautiful format. We would love to be able to publish the lectures in this series regularly if we could find the necessary financial support.
With a view to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Holland, Michigan in 1947, the Director of the Netherlands Information Bureau in Holland approached President Ruthven about the possibility of establishing a Chair in Dutch culture at the University of Michigan. (Still a good idea!) Further negotiations led to the creation of an ongoing exchange between the University of Michigan and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. This august institution celebrated its 50th anniversary in April, 2001. Currently administered by the Center for European Studies at our International Institute, the "NVP" has brought to U-M distinguished scholars from a wide variety of fields, including Law, History, Architecture, Engineering, and many of the natural sciences. Most of the Visiting Professors gave talks at other universities during their tenure. The NVP surely has accomplished its original intent of creating a broad and deep network of contacts between the Netherlands and the United States, and it has enriched our Dutch program immeasurably.
A visit to the U-M by the distinguished Dutch writer Bert Schierbeek in 1979 inspired the University to approach the Stichting voor Vertalingen [Foundation for the Translation of Dutch Literary Work] in Amsterdam about the possibility of co-funding a Dutch Writer-in-Residence. We succeeded, and Bert Schierbeek returned to the University for the academic year 1981-1982 as the first tenant of the position. The program has run continuously ever since, attracting a long list of other luminaries:
- Philo Bregstein
- Mischa de Vreede
- Peter Ten Hoopen
- Arie van den Berg
- Renate Dorrestein
- Graa Boomsma
- Henk van Kerkwijk
- Mia Meijer
- Herman Stevens
- Martin Bril
- Robert Vernooy
- Daphne Meijer
- Renee Huigen
- Patty Scholten
Over the years, the Dutch Studies Program has enjoyed a very close relationship with the local Netherlands America University League (NAUL) of Ann Arbor, to our mutual benefit. A non-profit organization for those interested in Dutch language and culture, the NAUL has been instrumental in sponsoring special events, visits, and lectures. Many of its members have provided financial, intellectual, and moral support to the Program. Link to NAUL website.
Read the NAUL Newsletter:
November 2011 (PDF)
September 2011 (PDF)
There are strong links with the American Association for Netherlandic Studies. The Dutch lecturer has served on the Board of Directors and was the interim editor of their Newsletter in 1992-1993. Since 1997 he has served as the liaison between AANS and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Netherlandic Studies. He was also a member of the selection committee for candidates to the Dutch Summer Course in Dutch language at Nijenrode, the Netherlands.