Awards Free Competition Humanities

14 June 2018

NWO Domain Social Sciences and Humanities has awarded funding from the Free Competition Humanities to 12 researchers. This instrument makes funding available for the best research proposals in the humanities, without any thematic conditions being imposed. The Free Competition has been subsumed in the new Open Competition of NWO Social Sciences and Humanities, which will shortly open for applications.

Each project in the Free Competition Humanities should consist of at least two subprojects that are clearly related to each other. The coherency between the subprojects must have a demonstrable added value for the final outcome of the entire project. 

Each proposal could have a maximum budget of 750,000 euros. NWO received pre-proposals from 164 researchers, of which 60 applicants submitted a full proposal. Twelve project proposals were eventually awarded funding. 

An overview of the grants awarded (in alphabetical order of main applicant): 

The multilingual dynamics of literary culture in medieval Flanders
Prof. Bart Besamusca (Utrecht University) - The Multilingual Dynamics of the Literary Culture of Medieval Flanders (ca. 1200 – ca. 1500)

This is the first major project that focuses on the multilingual character of the literary culture
of mediaeval Flanders. For the period 1200-1500 AD, it will be investigated how Dutch, French and Latin monolingual and multilingual texts were produced and read alongside each other, and whether interactions between them arose.

How Greek was the Greek colonisation of Italy (ca. 800-550 BC)?
Prof. Jan Paul Crielaard (VU Amsterdam) - What went into the melting pot? Land use, agriculture, and craft production as indicators for the contributions of Greek migrants and local inhabitants to the so-called Greek colonisation in Italy (ca. 800-550 BC)

Were Greek colonies in Italy entirely Greek or partially indigenous? The key to this lies in the
organisation of the primary basic needs. By comparing land use, agriculture and earthwork production in mother cities, colonies and indigenous settlements, we can establish who provided the knowledge and technology that were necessary to survive.

Track changes: the creative writing process in a digital environment
Prof. Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Huygens ING & University of Amsterdam) – Track Changes: Textual Scholarship and the Challenge of Digital Literary Writing

Research into the literary writing process has already been done for centuries using drafts and manuscripts. Nowadays, writers mainly work digitally, and this provides an entirely different source material. What traces does the digital writing process leave behind and how can modern techniques be used to document and analyse the writing process?

Keepers of the flame: Zoroastrian priests in Sasanian and Early Islamic Times
Prof. Albert de Jong (Leiden University) - Keepers of the Flame: The Reconfiguration of the Zoroastrian Priesthood in Sasanian and Early Islamic Times

Before the Arab conquests in the seventh century, Iran was a Zoroastrian kingdom in which priests played a prominent role. After the conquests, that completely changed. This project investigates how Zoroastrianism could survive by examining the far-reaching metamorphosis of the work of Zoroastrian priests.

19th-century PowerPoint
Prof. Frank Kessler (Utrecht University) - Projecting Knowledge – The Magic Lantern as a Tool for Mediated Science Communication in the Netherlands, 1880-1940

Just like PowerPoint in recent times, the magic lantern changed how scientists could transfer knowledge to students and the wider public in the last decades of the 19th century. The researchers will reveal what influence the medium had on academic education and communicating science to a wider public by means of a “lecture with light images”.

Are there universal moral standards?
Prof. Pauline Kleingeld (University of Groningen) - Universal Moral Laws: A New Approach to Kant and Kantian Ethics

This is the first study into the political-theoretical background of key concepts in Kant's universalistic ethics such as moral "legislation" and "autonomy", human "dignity", and "freedom" of the will. Based on the new interpretation that emerges from this, we will investigate the possibilities for developing a convincing modern Kantian ethics.

Sport and festivals in the Hellenistic period
Prof. Onno van Nijf (University of Groningen) – Connecting the Greeks: multi-scalar festival networks in the Hellenistic world

Modern sport can trace its roots to Ancient Greece and the Olympic Games. We will investigate the
history of sport and festivals in the Hellenistic period. Sport and festivals blossomed in this period
but were also an important part of the cultural (and political) integration of the Greek world.

Language and memory
Dr Rick Nouwen (Utrecht University) - An integrated semantic and cognitive model of presuppositional dependencies

While we are reading or listening, we continuously use our memory to connect the piece of language that we are processing with what we have previously read or heard. This programme investigates which linguistic and general cognitive factors play a role in this process.

New knowledge in the Netherlands, 1500-1850
Prof. Judith Pollmann (Leiden University) - Chronicling novelty. New knowledge in the Netherlands, 1500-1850

Innovation requires more than just smart people. New knowledge must also be accepted. Between 1650 and 1850, an awful lot of knowledge was generated. We will investigate how this knowledge was disseminated to ordinary people in the Netherlands and whether these people therefore thought more positively about innovation than their ancestors did.

Pardon my French?
Dr Gijsbert Rutten (Leiden University) - Pardon my French? Dutch-French Language Contact in The Netherlands, 1500-1900

Prior to the current Anglicisation, the Dutch language was subject to centuries of French influence. Strangely enough, this French influence on the language between 1500 and 1900 has scarcely been investigated from a linguistic viewpoint. In this project, we will examine the influence of French on the Dutch language using the language choice of multilingual individuals and public debate about that unspeakable French influence.

Rembrandt chose colour. The transition to coloured ground layers in the Netherlands, 1550-1650
Dr Maartje Stols-Witlox (University of Amsterdam) - Down to the Ground: a historical, visual and scientific analysis of coloured grounds in Netherlandish paintings, 1550-1650

Artists prepare their panels or canvases with a preparation layer, the ground. In the
Renaissance, grounds were white, whereas artists like Rembrandt chose yellow, grey or brown
grounds for a special atmosphere in their paintings. This project will investigate when and why
painters started to use coloured grounds, and it will develop new research equipment to investigate this.

The Dutch language as an instrument for telling stories
Prof. Piek Vossen (VU Amsterdam) - Framing situations in the Dutch language

How we describe situations is called framing. We choose our words because we find something more important than other things, but also to convey our judgement, emotion or perspective. In this project, we will describe framing in the Dutch language for the first time.

Source: NWO