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Centre for Uses of Literature


UoL started out as a research group called Welfare Narratives led by Peter Simonsen (2011-2016), where it became the Center for Uses of Literature led by Anne-Marie Mai and Rita Felski on the basis of a Niels Bohr Research Grant from the Danish National Research Foundation (2016-20222). In 2022 Peter Simonsen took over the leadership of the research group and Center. Link to old UoL here.



The Center for the Uses of Literature (UOL) aims to attract, coordinate, and further qualify researchers who are interested in exploring the uses of literary texts in a variety of contexts and interdisciplinary settings. We test the usability and usefulness of literature, understood in both a broad and a narrow sense; we work with contemporary and historical literary texts, employ hermeneutical and practical methods, and work across national literatures in the increasingly mediatized environments literature finds much of its nourishment.


‘Uses’ implies a pragmatic orientation towards the literary system’s worldly concerns with matters of production, publication, circulation, adaptation, mediatization and reception whether in the educational system, concerning health in a variety of senses, as well in connection with literature’s social lives and afterlives. Our premise is that literature is distinctive (it has certain qualities or affordances) and also relational (it is connected to many other actors) and that its presence is not attenuated by its relations but made possible by them. We are interested in thinking and talking about where, how, and why literature matters in many contexts of use, both actual and imaginary, historical and current, theoretical and empirical.


UOL is the product of a long history of interdisciplinary collaboration in welfare studies and health studies between scholars from Danish literature, English literature, and History and Social Science.  This collaboration resulted in the successful Niels Bohr Professorship held by Rita Felski 2016-2021 (Project website)who continues as associated honorary SDU professor and contributes actively to the Center.

Last Updated 21.02.2024