Painting by Bengt_Nordenberg - Tiondemöte i skåne
Painting by Bengt_Nordenberg - Tiondemöte i skåne

Redefining the Region

The Transnational Dimensions of Local Colour

Regional identity is a hot topic. Renewed interest in the region can partly be seen as a response to immigration and globalisation, and is often fanned by populism. Scholarship on regionalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth century has interpreted the popularity of representations of the regions, such as local colour writing, as an expression of emergent nationalisms.

Yet what such interpretations overlook is that regionalism is also fundamentally a transnational phenomenon. Typical local colour themes, imagery, and narratives circulated around and beyond Europe. Moreover, through reprints in periodicals, foreign editions, and translations, local colour writers and their publishers catered to international audiences, while they sometimes also engaged with issues of migration and cosmopolitanism in positive ways.


Redefining the Region examines the transnational dimensions of local colour in the long nineteenth century. Across five subprojects comprising a range of unique case studies, the researchers analyse media representations of regions and local colour fiction in European and transatlantic frameworks. Charting the circulation of texts and images as well as the international proliferation of genre conventions, the project will redefine our understanding of the region and its intersections with multiculturalism and globalisation.

The project shows how local colour influenced identity and community formation on several scales, from the local to the transnational. As such, it will enhance our understanding of cultural transfer and of the role of diasporic communities in cultural production and identity formation. These results will be shared in various forms, including a database of local colour material, educational resources, and a virtual exhibition.

Want to know more?

Want to know more about the theoretical framework we are using in this project? What our objectives are? Or how we make societal impact with our work and the results that flow from it? We'd love to tell you about it! Send an email to marguerite.corporaal [at] and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. 

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“Exposition Universelle. – Section Hollandaise: Types et Costumes Populaires, Dans Le Palais du Champ-de-Mars.” L’Univers Illustré (28 September 1878), p. 617. Image retrieved from Gallica.

The Transnational Dimensions of the Region in European Illustrated Periodicals, 1842-1900

This project examines the transnational dimensions of the region in European illustrated periodicals from 1842 until 1900. Illustrated periodicals will be treated, not just as carriers, but as active agents in processes of affect and meaning-making.

Jacob Jan Cremer, “Kerk bij een Rivier” (1844)

Local Colour Fiction in Flanders and the Netherlands, 1851-1914: Transnational Perspectives

This research project approaches nineteenth-century Dutch local colour fiction from a transnational perspective, considering its circulation and reception across borders and its reflection on transnational relationships and interactions.

A.Heaton Cooper, “Cottage by the sea, Renvyle“, in Frank James Mathew, Ireland (London: AS . & C. Black, 1916).

Local Colour Fiction, the Irish Revival and Transnationalism, 1882-1914

The literatures and cultures of the Irish region were central to nationalist ideologies, but the question arises in what respects local colour fiction of this era breaks away from this national frame to address transnational concerns and issues.

Berthold Auerbach; Fredrika Bremer; Selma Lagerlöf; Henryk Sienkiwicz

European Local Colour Fiction in Transnational Contexts, 1830-1914

The project European Local Colour Fiction in Transnational Contexts, 1830-1914 explores the trajectories of travel and translation of a selection of British, Irish, French, and Italian “regional” or “local-colour” texts.

Engraving, building Der Deutsche Correspondent, East Baltimore Street, Baltimore (1869)

Writing European Regions in the Transatlantic World, 1845-1914

To develop a better understanding of the role of regionalism in the formation and marketisation of diasporic identities, this subproject considers two ways in which German and Irish regions featured in the North American literary marketplace.


The Regional Fictions podcast

 Listen to our podcast

Travelling Regions: Regional Stories in the Long Nineteenth Century

See the digital exhibition


NWO Research programme Vici SGW


Advisory board

  • Prof Joost Augusteijn (University of Leiden)
  • Dr Claire Le Foll (University of Southampton)
  • Prof  Dirk de Geest (KU Leuven)
  • Prof Laurence Gourievidis (University of Clermont Auvergne)
  • Prof Peter Gray (Queen’s University Belfast)
  • Prof Mary Hammond (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Raphaël Ingelbien (KU Leuven)
  • Dr William Jenkins (York University, Toronto)
  • Prof Lotte Jensen (Radboud University)
  • Prof Joep Leerssen (University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof Margaret Kelleher (University College Dublin)
  • Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald (University College Dublin)
  • Prof Michèle Martin (Carleton University, Ottawa)
  • Prof Gerardine Meaney (University College Dublin)
  • Prof James Murphy (Boston College)
  • Dr Andrew Newby (University of Jyväskylä)
  • Dr Marianne van Remoortel (University of Ghent)
  • Dr Tom Sintobin (Radboud University)
  • Prof  Dolly Verhoeven (Storia; Radboud University)

Societal partners

  • EUROCLIO, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Irish College, Leuven, Belgium
  • Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Irish Heritage Trust, Dublin, Ireland
  • National Museums Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
  • Boston College, Boston, United States
  • Ireland Park Foundation, Toronto, Canada

Contact information