Two Vici grants for Faculty of Arts: Mirjam Broersma and Alicia Montoya

Alicia Montoya (RICH) and Mirjam Broersma (CLS) will both receive a Vici grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). This will enable them to develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group for five years.

Prof. Alicia Montoya will research book-reader interactions in eighteenth-century, revolutionary Europe. Philosophers and literary theorists have long debated the effects of fiction on society. Does reading fiction make people more empathic, or help them work through trauma? Does fiction contribute to citizenship and community-building? Although thinkers have considered these questions ever since Plato, there are few historical sources to test their hypotheses.

New methods are needed to make the sources we do have, such as library lending records or catalogues of private libraries, speak to us. In this project, a team of cultural historians will develop innovative computational methods to understand relations between fiction and citizenship.

Dr Mirjam Broersma's research will focus on language acquisition of Ukrainian refugees and Russian migrants in the Netherlands. For refugees and other immigrants, acquiring the language of their new environment is vital. Psychological trauma might make that difficult. Broersma will investigates whether memory problems and socio-emotional problems that often accompany trauma hinder acquisition of Dutch language and communication skills.

The project will investigate which skills are affected, and whether that differs for children and adults. It investigates how social participation contributes to Dutch proficiency, and if social participation and Dutch proficiency in turn might help to cope with trauma. Finally, it offers recommendations for better language education for traumatised learners.

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