Living Archives, Open Books - Research axes Faculty of Arts

Living Archives, Open Books

How are texts conceived, and what does authorship precisely contain? Who are the gatekeepers who make sure that texts are published, preserved and read? Which means do they use, and how do they determine what they offer the reader? These questions give a sense of direction to the research on books and (literary) archives at the Faculty of Arts. Questions that are linked to the social impact of cultural industries and the enormous offer of texts with which our society is flooded. Questions to which answers are searched in past and present.

It is significant for our faculty to combine book and literature science with theatre and film science. Researchers are curious about the contents of texts, plays and films, and about the creative processes that preceded them. They examine how texts find their way to book readers and the theatre and film audience.

Antwerp as a cultural city

Antwerp is a fertile ground for this research. Many relevant players have settled here. The city has been a multilingual centre for the art of print, even before Plantin. Renowned authors have written and situated their works here. Besides that, the city has a rich history of film, opera and theatre.

Today, Antwerp houses the Museum Plantin-Moretus, several heritage libraries and publishers, the Letterenhuis,, the Boekenbeurs, the Flemish Literature Fund, the film museum, and Iedereen leest. The researchers collaborate intensively with these organisations, always focused on the international research field and its developments.

Broad terms

The research approaches archives and books not as 'dead letters' but as open and dynamic processes of giving meaning.

  • The book ranges from the manuscript over to the printed book and the ebook.
  • The archive refers to the reservoir of knowledge that we activate when we read, and of course also to the classic conservation places for texts and books. Research to the grow and development of these collections illuminate the mechanisms of canonisation. Traces of readers and collectors in concrete books uncover processes of appropriation. Yet, the archive also incorporates personal documents, manuscripts and (virtual reconstructed) author libraries; image and sound materials; play rehearsals; children book illustrations; diaries; etc. Examining these archives start from the idea that insight into the processes contributes to a better understanding of how it works.

Interfacultary research

This interfacultary research is focused on the production of texts and audiovisual arts. Many new insights are conceived in dialogue with students, and the integration of research results in the education contributes to the critical contact with texts in all their possible shapes.