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prof. dr. O.M. Heynders

Full Professor 

Tilburg School of Humanities
Department of Culture Studies



This research project addresses the transformation of literature in the current digitalised and mediatised public sphere. This transformation encloses the blurring of text genres (autobiography, essay, novel) and discourses (literature, history, journalism, politics), the changing roles and performances of authors and readers, and the expanding marketing and spreading of literature. The main focus of this project is on the European public intellectual: writers presenting their critical ideas and imaginaries on society, and on the (dis)functioning of and disagreement in politics.

This project is the continuation of a former one in which the concept of the public intellectual was considered and various casus of public intellectual practice were analysed (Writers as Public Intellectuals, Literature, Celebrity, Democracy, published at Palgrave Macmillan, November 2015). In this follow up project the concept scenario is developed to investigate imaginative scripts and settings constructed by authors to participate in democracy and comment on political, social and historical events. The imaginary scenario draws on Charles Taylor (2004) and Elena Esposito (2007), and as surreal-perspective evidently tells something about the experience of the present. Some writers build their novels or essays around a Vorstellung of how future figures (and politicians in power) could act and speak. This futurology-perspective evidently tells something about the experience of the present. The claim is that these European writers have to be considered in a critical context beyond the safe haven of autonomy: in their novels they address the reader as citizen and invite him to reflect on democratic practices.

The project examines European scenarios as democratic practices constructed by representative literary authors from 10 EU member states, and aims at making a collection and analysis of critical imaginative settings for Europe. As such, the project prompt to reconsider what it means to live in the EU and to reflect on its future perspectives.

Keywords Literature . Public Intellectual . Imaginary Scenario . Democracy . Europe  


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Last amended: 05 May 2016