Intention & Intervention

Intention & Intervention

Authorial strategies against exclusionary discourses


A research project by Dr Leila Essa, funded through the NWO Talent Scheme

What decisions do authors from marginalised communities take inside and around their fiction when facing exclusionary creative industries and societies?

How do they individually and collectively intervene in public discourses through artistic and activist work? How do they set out to reach or even teach wide audiences?

And what consequences do these dynamics have for conceptions of authorial intention in literary criticism?

My methodology for tackling these questions is comparative: Following lines of existing networks, influences and overlaps, I conduct case studies from the German and British scene that also always point beyond these two contexts. And it is collaborative: This research centres exchange with and between the writers whose intentions are at stake.

Thanks to a Veni grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the project will run from 2022 to 2025. It is hosted by the Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University, where I am an Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature (more on my teaching, writing and previous research on my profile page).

Here you can follow the latest developments of Intention & Intervention:

  • Summer of collaboration

    Summer of collaboration

    It’s been a full summer! The “Homelands, Nightmares, Good Immigrants” event announced in the last blog post was a joy, as captured in the photos below and in this detailed write-up by publisher Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo for New Books in German. It was particularly great to have the time and space to continue our panel…

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  • A research trip of one’s own

    A research trip of one’s own

    Since the March update, I’ve had opportunities to discuss authorial strategies with writers, fellow researchers and public audiences in Essen, Amsterdam, Turku (online) and Utrecht (twice), but I also got to travel purely as an observer. Graz, this photo would suggest, is well-prepared for research trips. The reason for mine was the premiere of Simone…

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  • On ‘staying different’ and sharing strategies

    On ‘staying different’ and sharing strategies

    My first ideas for this research project back in 2018 were sparked by the anthology The Good Immigrant (ed. by Nikesh Shukla, 2016) and the search for comparable contemporary works in German. Shortly after, Eure Heimat ist unser Albtraum was announced (Your Homeland is Our Nightmare, ed. by Fatma Aydemir and Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, 2019) and…

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