Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Project 1 – The Dynamics of Latin and Vernacular Poetry in the Netherlands

The project Dynamics of Latin and vernacular Poetry in the Netherlands investigates the status of both Dutch and Latin poetry in seventeenth century Holland. Furthermore, the project investigates the role literature in Dutch and in Latin played in the creating and maintaining of a Dutch identity. This will be partly mirrored in Project 3 (Reception of four Major Poets from the Netherlands in Germany) which will explore in what way the reception of Dutch poets in Germany contributed to the fashioning of a self-conscious cultural identity in the German countries.

The first project focuses on the vernacular and Latin poems of Hugo Grotius, Daniel Heinsius and Jacob Cats. The first year was dedicated to the analysis of Hugo Grotius’s volumes of religious poetry, while in the second year we will focus on the examination of the love poetry of Daniel Heinsius and the works of Jacob Cats. In addition, various volumes of emblemata will be discussed. The last writer to be studied is Joost van den Vondel. He serves as a contrast figure, since he wrote only vernacular poetry. The reception of his poetry in Germany, however, (as investigated in Project 3) is comparable to the reception of the other three poets. Therefore, it must be assumed that his vernacular poetry contributed to the creation of a cultural identity in both Holland and Germany.

The theoretical framework is mainly shaped by Stephen Greenblatt’s theory of self-fashioning, with notions of Itamar Even-Zohar’s polysystem theory and Gerard Genette’s concept of paratexts. Whereas Project 2 (Self-Representation and Self-Presentation by Four Major Poets from the Netherlands) explores the self-fashioning of the poets in their letters and in the liminary works to the volumes, Project 1 will concentrate on self-fashioning within the different volumes. Through the examination of the structure of the volumes conclusions may be reached about the status of the poems in each volume. This will provide us with tools for the comparison of the different volumes and poems to each other. In addition, the paratexts to the volumes will be analysed, in order to determine the function of the volumes in the poet’s self-fashioning. Additionally a comparison and analysis on the level of individual poems will  take place.

By comparing the self-fashioning in vernacular volumes to the way it was done in the Latin ones, it will be possible to establish the function and audience of the two languages or literatures. This will clarify the position of each literature within the cultural field of Holland and their contributions to the shaping of the Dutch cultural identity.