Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Project 2 – Self-Representation and Self-Presentation by Four Major Poets from the Netherlands

The second project focuses on the process of self-presentation and self-representation in the works of Grotius, Heinsius, Cats and Vondel. The concepts of self-presentation and self-representation are related to Stephan Greenblatt’s notion of self-fashioning, as described in his book Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. As the present project plays an auxiliary role to project 3, for which it is necessary to have an impression of images these four poets ‘emitted’ of themselves, the focus in this project lays on the different images these poets consciously or unconsciously seem to create of themselves. In some cases it is crystal-clear that the poet is consciously promoting himself, e.g. when Grotius sends several copies of his latest book to Lingelsheim in Germany.  But the image of the poet / author that emerges from letters, poems and dedications seems to have more layers than only the conscious one of self-promoting. Here we find more general currents that seem for a large part to be defined by class and education. In the case of Grotius, his profound classical education in combination with patrician class and an unspecified religious domination at home seem to force him to take a moderated view on dogmatic issues and the religious conflicts of his age. It is this stance in religious matters that makes Grotius attractive in the eyes of Lingelsheim and Opitz.

Especially here the project touches upon Greenblatt’s concepts of self-fashioning and cultural poetics. As is the case with Greenblatt, this project can not take all available materials into account, therefore this project concentrates on letters, dedications and liminary poetry. Other works are used when they seem to be of important representative value.

The project focuses during the first year on Grotius (especially the correspondence with Lingelsheim and the relationship with Heinsius), the second year on Heinsius and third year on Cats and Vondel. The last year of this project will be used to edit the collected materials into a dissertation.