For 24 million people worldwide, Dutch is their first language: in the Netherlands, Flanders and Surinam. It is also one of the official languages in Curaçao, St. Maarten and Aruba. Afrikaans differs from Dutch and is a separate language, but speakers of Dutch can generally understand Afrikaans, and vice versa.
The Dutch language provides access to a rich and complex culture and its history. Without Dutch, one can examine the architectural and artistic treasures that have survived from the past – or created just yesterday – and one can easily find people who speak English among the world’s Dutch speakers. But to understand how this small region developed as it did, has had the effect it has, or even what is unique about the cultures of the world’s varied Dutch-speakers, one needs to be able to read and speak Dutch. To appreciate the uniqueness of the political culture, today and yesterday, of these regions, one needs Dutch. In fact, to understand what the Dutch brought to the Americas and what is still deeply rooted in our own culture, one needs Dutch.
Our library collections concerning the Dutch-speaking world are arguably the best in the country. Faculty includes scholars in several disciplines who concentrate on the history and culture of the Dutch-speaking world. The university is surrounded by museums and galleries, which contain some of the best collections of art from Belgium and the Netherlands. New York's concert halls, dance studios, and fashion emporia regularly feature artists whose language is Dutch
Columbia University has a long history of scholarship and teaching about the Dutch-speaking world, in large part thanks to our location in what was once named New Amsterdam. The program of studies in the Dutch language and the Dutch-speaking world at Columbia dates from the post-war period when the the Stichting Koningin Wilhelmina Professoraat (Queen Wilhelmina Professor Foundation) joined with Columbia to create a chair in the history, culture and language of the Dutch-speaking world. Today, instead of a full-time resident chair, Columbia annually hosts a visiting Queen Wilhelmina professor, sponsored by the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union), who teaches one semester a year. The visitor, along with a committee of resident faculty, also organizes a series of lectures and workshops focusing on the history and culture of the Dutch-speaking world. This program of scholarship and teaching is supplemented by a rich offering of language courses taught in the Germanic languages department.
Approximately a half dozen faculty members at Columbia are actively associated with the program; graduate students in several disciplines have completed or are completing dissertations on the culture or history of The Netherlands, Belgium, or other Dutch-speaking regions; undergraduates and graduates from Columbia and many neighboring institutions are enrolled in language and literature courses that prepare them to use the language in their own research, acquire oral competency in the language, and thus gain direct access to the varied cultures of Dutch-speaking society today.
For a look at one of the many interesting things going on The Netherlands today, see this fascinating article and video.
Each June, a tuition-free intensive 3-week summer course is offered for PhD students. The course consists of two weeks (40 hours in total) Dutch for Reading Knowledge, and one week Reading 17th century Dutch Texts and Paleography (20 hours in total). Language level requirement: 2 semesters of Dutch at the college level, or equivalent; or 4 semesters of German at the college level, or equivalent. Enrollment is open to doctoral students from any university.
For more information, please contact Wijnie de Groot at [email protected]
This course is fully sponsored by the Nederlandse Taalunie/Dutch Language Union in the Hague, the Netherlands
Call for Applications:
Dutch language-course in May-June 2023 for Graduate Students (tuition-free)
Applications are invited for a month-long course ("the summer course") in modern Dutch, early modern Dutch/paleography, and archival research in Amsterdam/The Hague* ("the archival week"). The first two sections can be taken separately. The third section, in the Netherlands, requires participation in one or both of the first two sections. The course is free-of-charge. Funding has been provided through the Nederlandse
The course has three distinct sections, and students may apply to the first section (Modern Dutch for Reading Knowledge), and/or the second section (Early Modern Dutch/Paleography). Participation in the third section, the Archival week in the Netherlands, requires participation in either or both other sections. (A single letter of application will suffice for any section(s) of the course, but applicants should be sure to
include the appropriate supporting materials for the particular section(s) of the course to which application is being made. Applicants are requested to clearly state which sections they are applying to, by stating it in boldface on the letter of purpose.
*Participants in the Archival Week must make arrangements for their own accommodations and flight.
Travel expenses within the country may be covered depending on additional funding.
APPLICATIONS FOR ALL SESSIONS ARE DUE MARCH 15, 2023
two weeks of Modern Dutch for Reading Knowledge (through zoom)
week 1: Monday May 22 through Thursday May 25
week 2: Tuesday May 30 through Friday June 2
both weeks 11 a.m. to 3 p.m (New York time)
one week of 17th-century Dutch/paleography (in person at Columbia University, New York)
week 3: Monday June 12 through Thursday June 15
morning session: 9:30 - 12:00
afternoon session: 1:30 - 4:00
one week archival workshop in the Netherlands (The Hague/Amsterdam/Haarlem)
week 4: Monday June 19 through Friday June 23
Descriptions of the courses and requirements for admission to each section
Week I & II: Modern Dutch for Reading Knowledge
This section will cover reading strategies, grammar and vocabulary of modern Dutch.
Open to all students with the equivalent of 2 semesters or more of Dutch (or 4 semesters of German or equivalent) at the college level. Students must submit evidence of competence in the language. Preference will be given to students enrolled in a PhD program, although M.A students may apply. Students who are unsure if their level of Dutch is satisfactory should contact Wijnie de Groot ([email protected]).
Week III: 17th-century Dutch texts/paleography workshop
The workshop will cover reading strategies of 17th-century printed and handwritten texts.
Open to all students with the equivalent of 3 semesters or more of Dutch or 2 full years of German at the college level or equivalent. Students must submit evidence of competence in the language. In addition, students should submit a letter of purpose explaining their reason for application.
Students who are unsure if their level of Dutch is satisfactory should contact Wijnie de Groot([email protected]). Preference will be given to students enrolled in a PhD program, although M.A students may apply.
Week IV: Archival workshop in the Netherlands
This workshop (in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam) will take place in the Netherlands (it includes visits to the Royal Library, National Archive and RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) in the Hague, the Amsterdam City Archive and University of Amsterdam Special Collections, and the Provincial Archive in Haarlem/Noord-Hollands Archief) and will introduce students to 16th and 17th century archives and other resources* (such as the Maritime Museum and the Print Room at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam).
Space for this week will be limited to a maximum of ten students, and is highly competitive. The workshop will take place from June 19 to 23.
*Subject to change
Preference will be given to PhD candidates who are ready to start dissertation research. This week is not open to M.A. students.
Email Wijnie de Groot at [email protected] for additional information.
Applicants for the Netherlands portion of the course (week IV) must
- have completed MA thesis and first-year of graduate work at the Phd level;
- be currently enrolled in a PhD program;
- be at or close to the stage of planning the dissertation research and have a good idea of the kinds of sources that will be needed to conduct research;
- submit a letter of support from advisor or principal faculty member: the letter should endorse the usefulness of the trip and the archival experience, in the expectation that it will lead to archival work for the thesis;
- submit a letter of purpose: it should explain how the training will advance ongoing or planned research for a
doctoral thesis (including an indication of what stage the applicant is in their program: first-, second-year, etc.)
- have completed Week I/II and/or Week III (students who completed these in previous years are also invited to
All applications, along with supporting documents, should be emailed to Wijnie de Groot at [email protected]. They are due March 15, 2023. Inquiries should also be directed to Wijnie de Groot.