Mieke Bal

Mieke Bal, Picture taken by Lena Verhoff

Mieke Bal is a Dutch cultural theorist, video artist, and occasional curator. She has been Professor in Literary Theory at the University of Amsterdam. She also was a co-founder of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Bal attended the University of Amsterdam, where she obtained a M.A in French in 1969. In 1977 she was awarded her Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature at Utrecht University. She was Professor of Semiotics and Women’s Studies at Utrecht University and then became professor of Comparative literature at the University of Rochester, where she co-founded the first program in visual culture. She serves on the editorial board of several academic journals, including the international advisory board of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. In 2005 the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded Bal with an Academy Professorship, characterizing her approach to literary theory and the visual arts as “highly innovative, robust, and displaying extraordinary creativity.”

Bal’s areas of interest range from biblical and classical antiquity to 17th century and contemporary art and modern literature, feminism, and migratory culture. Her many publications include A Mieke Bal Reader (2006), Travelling Concepts in the Humanities (2002), and Narratology (4th edition 2017). This book, or. 1985, is an introduction to the systematic study of narrative, in which she adopts structuralist concepts and terms as tools for the analysis of stories. Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History (1999) investigates how twentieth-century artists set up a dialogue with old-master art. In Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide (2002), Bal explores the deployment of concepts in interdisciplinary cultural analysis. Bal also has completed a trilogy of works on political art: Of What One Cannot Speak (2010), Thinking in Film (2013), Endless Andness (2013). Her internationally exhibited documentaries on migration include Separations, State of Suspension, Becoming Vera, and the installation Nothing is Missing are part of the Cinema Suitcase collective. She also made several “theoretical fictions” as feature films and installations.

In 2019 she made a 16-channel video installation Don Quijote: Sad Countenances, and in 2020 she made an“essay film” on Cassandra, time, and history, titled “It’s About Time! Reflections on urgency”.

 You can check out the essay film in the video player down below: