Winner of the 2014 ISCH Essay Prize Announced

The essay prize this year has been awarded to Agnes Andeweg from the University of Maastricht and University College Utrecht for an article entitled “Manifestations of the Flying Dutchman. On materialising ghosts and (not) remembering the colonial past”.

In her article Agnes Andeweg seeks to answer questions like: How could we interpret this ghostly figure of the Dutchman, what does he signify? Why is he a ghost? How Dutch is he? Therefore she is interested in how appearances of the Flying Dutchman can be interpreted as shaping national stereotypes and notions of national identity. After all, the Flying Dutchman is Dutch, which raises the question what Dutch comes to mean in different contexts and periods. In its focus on cultural representations of national character, she situated her analysis in the field of imagology, with the remark that its object exceeds the traditional imagological object of literature, as will become clear. In analysing the many different forms the Flying Dutchman takes, textually and materially, her approach is not only derived from literary studies, but also from the history of material culture and cultural studies.

Her second interest is, in how the Flying Dutchman mediates the cultural memory of the colonial past. As a ghost story about a sailing ship from colonial times, the Flying Dutchman stages and negotiates confrontations between past and present at the story-level. The phantom ship called the Flying Dutchman is a spectre haunting the present, and we could ask ourselves which aspects of the past in particular are haunting. She conceives of the spectre as a conceptual metaphor, that helps to understand which aspects of the past have become spectral and why.