The Department of English Literature

Who we are

The members of the Department of  English Literature are: Cees van den Akker, Henny de Boer, Christa de Jager, Marc Kalf, Elise Prins-Kleuskens, Hans van der Weide en Els de Wit. The reader's guides are written by members of the group, volunteers and students studying English.

How we work

In the period September to December, we meet once or twice to discuss and decide on plans for the coming season. Each member of the group brings a list of novels they have read and would like to propose. With different backgrounds and tastes, these lists comprise a wide range of subject matter, style and story. A potential longlist of books suitable for reading groups is put together, a mixture of new and older publications. We discuss these books and all books chosen for the longlist are then read by at least two or three members of the working group.

Then we meet again in January to select 10 to 15 books from the longlist. When we make this final selection, the most important criteria is whether they are suitable to be discussed by members of a reading group.

We try to offer a wide variety of books:
authors from various English-speaking countries;
different periods, subjects and settings;
different genres: we have chosen not only novels, but also novellas, collections of short stories, thrillers and an epistolary novel, for example.

Scrooge in the Library in Amersfoort

It is that time of the year: the jolly season, the season of holly and ivy. A season to open our hearts to one another.

It was in that mood that members of the English workgroup and members of English Senia reading groups met at the magnificent Amersfoort library on Sunday December 17th, to be once more regaled on a lively rendering of events from Charles Dickens' famous tale: A Christmas Carol, by Mr Wim Tigges who was able to fill in all the parts from Scrooge, via the ghosts to the glorious ending in which, to our mutual relief, Tiny Tim once more does not die.

Marlowe was dead, dead as a doornail, but our English reading groups are alive and kicking........and thriving.

Cees van den Akker

Interesting essay about the role of reading communities

Esmé van den Boom is the student who wrote the reader’s guide for Possession last year. Recently she has written an essay on “The role of reading communities in the canonization of authors of colour: a case study of Senia’s English reading groups” for the master course on Book History (Master Writing, Editing and Mediating).

The number of racially diverse books on the list of titles and the way they were selected is investigated in this essay. One of the conclusions of Esmé's research is “that Senia’s choice of titles leaves room for improvement concerning diversity.”
Although the English Workgroup undertakes to offer a variety of books, taking into account a.o. countries of origin, gender, year of publications etc., the most important – yet subjective - criterium is that the books should be first-rate and suitable for discussion in the reading groups.


Cooperation with Rijksuniversiteit Groningen 

On the university website you can read (in Dutch) more about the cooperation between Senia and the university. Here you can also find an interesting research dissertation on ‘Communication in English Reading Groups’.