Invitation: PhD Specialist Course – National identity and local pride (9-10 November 2015, Ghent and Antwerp)


In 19th-century Belgium, Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent were the major cultural centers that distinguished themselves by flourishing art academies, a range of exhibition possibilities for artists and thriving art markets, the establishment of local and national museums, the activity of local art and cultural societies and a high number of local private collectors, among others. Moreover, each of these cities had a renowned and age-old artistic tradition, and the academies of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent each developed a distinct artistic profile and aspirations. Consequently, not solely the capital was the protagonist for the arts and cultural production. Instead of a national discourse exclusively linked to the capital, the situation in Belgium was much more complex.

In this two-day, intensive specialist course, we wish to focus on the dialectical interplay between an emerging national identity and long-engrained local identities in 19th-century Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent and how these shaped the cultural production, canon, criticism and reception. Attention will be paid to the common and divergent characteristics of the three Belgian cities, the role of city councils, cultural institutions, artistic organizations and societies, as well as to the impact of these aspects on artists, writers, commissioners, critics, collectors and the broader public. For this we will bring together for the first time a group of interdisciplinary researchers from different universities and academic backgrounds to shed light on and contextualize the diverse cultural milieus that shaped the local differences between the 19th-century Belgian cities.

For more information, see the programme.

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