Lira grant for assistant Professor of Dutch literature Ivo Nieuwenhuis

Date of news: 16 December 2021

The Lira Fund has announced the names of the first four recipients of the Scientific Books Grant scheme. University lecturer in Dutch literature Ivo Nieuwenhuis will receive 37,500 euros to write a Dutch-language academic book on humour scandals in the Netherlands.

This is the first time that the Scientific Books Grant Scheme has been awarded. With this scheme, the Lira Fund facilitates researchers with a substantial grant to write a book in which a broad audience is informed in understandable language about research.

Ivo Nieuwenhuis, of the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH), isIvo Nieuwenhuis going to write a book on 'humour scandals' in the Netherlands - riots and controversies resulting from comical or satirical expressions. Think, for example, of the fierce reactions that followed the broadcast of the sketch 'Beeldreligie' in the VARA programme Zo is 't toevallig ook 'ns keer in 1964, or, more recently, the use of the word 'pisnicht' by cabaret artist Youp van 't Hek.

Broad relevance

Nieuwenhuis has had a fascination with humour and satire for a long time. 'I want to focus specifically on humour scandals in this book because I think they tell us something important that we often overlook, namely that humour not only unites but also divides. Humour scandals have broader relevance than humour itself. They are also about the society and culture of which they are a part. The recent controversy surrounding Youp van 't Hek, but also Johan Derksen's joke about rapper Akwasi, for example, is indicative of the broader social debate currently taking place in the Netherlands about issues such as racism, inclusiveness, and equality. In this way, we can also learn something about our own culture and society through humour'.

Nieuwenhuis is delighted with the grant. 'Writing for a broad audience is a neglected area of science, certainly when it comes to funding', says Nieuwenhuis. 'It has always been my ambition to do scientific research and to share the results with the widest possible audience. Thanks to this grant I now have that opportunity.'

Other winners

Besides Nieuwenhuis, three other researchers receive the Lira Fund grant. Lisa Becking, associate professor of Tropical Marine Biodiversity at Wageningen University, will write about research on marine biodiversity and nature conservation. Bram Vannieuwenhuyze (UvA) wants to guide readers in his partly illustrated book through the 'fascinating, but also complex world of old maps and historical cartography'. And recently promoted researcher Anouk Zuurmond (University of Groningen) is preparing a book on educational philosophy with the key question: 'Should schools produce flexible workers or broadly educated citizens?