Joanne van der Woude

Workshop: Fox or Hedgehog: how narrow or broad should your PhD be?

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin is widely credited with introducing the idea that scholars and scientists are either foxes or hedgehogs, whereby a fox knows many things but a hedgehog knows one big thing. It is an attractive model for academia, because we all need to be able to argue for the relevance of our particular investigation for a much broader field of study—when writing grant-applications, for instance. Starting with my personal experience and what worked well (and less well) for me in navigating these paradoxical demands, this workshop then branches out towards participants’ questions and contributions, ending on very concrete strategies for staying focused while knowing about and contributing to developments in your larger field.

Joanne van der Woude works on colonial American literatures in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, and several Native American languages. She is an NWO vidi-laureate, ERC grant evaluator, and a University Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Groningen.