Jessica Van Wynsberge

Jessica Van Wynsberge Profile PictureProfile

Intern, Comparative Modern Literature
Ghent University

During the spring term of 2019, Jessica Van Wynsberge is an intern for RELICS as part of her MA in Comparative Modern Literature at Ghent University. She previously studied Dutch and Spanish and wrote her MA thesis on the cognitive evolution of narrative thinking. She has a broad interest in narrative thinking, biology, neuroscience and European identity.

“From secondary school on (where I studied Latin and modern languages) I was interested in both the empirical sciences and literature. During my BA I moved to the Netherlands where I worked on an online educational platform together with a group of students from the University of Ghent, Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam. The goal of this project was to create an open source knowledge system in which we could unite knowledge of different fields of study from different universities in Europe. Our study group was based on a shared interest in human cognition. We shared information on languages, literature, psychobiology, neuroscience and AI. When I returned to Ghent, I wrote my Bachelor dissertation about the differences between fictional and real consciousnesses in Monkey business and Iets in ons boog diep by Jan Lauwereyns, a Flemish writer who is also a neuroscientist. In my MA thesis I focused on narrative thinking as a cognitive process for structuring experiences.

Since then, I have been working out a comparison between the magical realism of the South African author André Brink and the Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez from a postcolonial perspective. Under the influence of French existentialism, the question of identity became an important theme in both South African as in South American literature. And it was only through their contact with Paris, which was regarded as the center of literary value, that their work gained value on a global scale. Before Paris, the cultural power of Europe resided in the Latin language and literature which had been spread through humanist scholars. I believe RELICS, with its large chronological scope, its historical insights in the schooling systems of Europe and its search for a European literary identity can help create a new conceptualization and recognition of literary identity as a cultural space that goes both beyond the nations of Europe. I hope through my working experience with RELICS I can help mapping out the ongoing power struggles in the changing transnational and translocal space of world literature.”

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