‘And the award goes to…’ Women on the Dutch literary award scene

Petra Boudewijn


Prizes have become indispensable to contemporary literary culture and have developed into one of its most high-profiled phenomena. This article examines the intersections between literary awards and gender, whilst drawing on fieldtheoretical approaches to literature. It successively discusses awarding behaviour, jury composition, and jury reports of a large number of Dutch literary prizes from the post-war era to the present. It argues, that the award scene has been governed by a conservative judging habitus, which seems to be inspired by the literary dispositions, inclinations and preferences of (white) middle-aged men who have predominantly populated juries for many decades; yet a drastic change in jury composition and awarding behaviour has swept through the award scene in recent years, resulting in a steep rise of female laureates. Additionally, it examines the ways in which juries have written in their reports about gender in connection to literary quality over the course of years.


Dutch literature; Nederlandse literatuur; literary culture; literaire cultuur; literary awards; literaire prijzen; awarding behaviour; bekroningsgedrag; women in literature; vrouwen in literatuur; gender

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