Ton van Kalmthout, “Nuchtere zin en een sprankje poëzie, aangewakkerd tot een weldadige gloed. A.E.H. Swaen en de Engelse letteren”in: Anne van Buul, Lopende vuurtjes. Engelse kunst en literatuur in Nederland en België rond 1900 (Uitgeverij Verloren, 2012)
As a self-evident medium through which English literature could penetrate literary life in the Netherlands, the university has often been neglected. My article analyses how this academic institution began to play its mediating role in the decades before the Second World War. This analysis is based on the case of A.E.H. Swaen (1863-1947), one of the first university ambassadors of English literature in the Netherlands, and founding professor of English studies at the municipal university of Amsterdam. Only little archival material about Swaen has been delivered, but his career can be followed in the Dutch national press and in governmental documents, of which important parts are digitally searchable nowadays. These help to get in the crosshairs both Swaen’s ideas and his professional practice. He appears to have led the way by making use of five strategies: firstly, he acquired the necessary knowledge about English language and literature; secondly, he exploited his social position and network; thirdly, he adopted the uses and rituals of the academic world; fourthly, he tried to find social support for his young discipline; and finally, he created academic offspring.