Double Dutch and Latin: Theatre from the Low Countries as a Transnational Affair
In the early modern period, the Low Countries were a leading trade nation, with ties to most of the European countries. Connected to this, they also were a literary staple market, and a transit hub for theatre plays, both in the vernacular and in Latin. Plays circulated in Dutch or Latin, but some of them were also translated and were disseminated in that way. This circulation could happen the more readily, since theatre texts are open for change, in text and performance, and since many of them were printed and these booklets were sold at fairs, taken along with travellers, and distributed among friends. In this lecture, we will sketch this transnational aspect of this literary culture and give outlines for further research.
Human Diversity in Early Modern Dutch Ethnography: Olfert Dapper (1636-1689)
Wiep van Bunge
After a brief summary of some recent developments in the Philosophy of Race and the historiography of European racism, a number of late seventeenth-century Dutch examples of ‘exotic ethnography’ will be introduced, and Olfert Dapper’s hugely popular books on Africa and Asia will be discussed. Finally, an attempt will be made to situate Dapper’s description of foreign peoples in the current discourse on European racism.
The world in your pocket: Peeter and Zacharias Heyns’ Miroir du Monde
Michiel van Groesen
Maps play a crucial role in our understanding of the world, and have done so for a long time. In 1570, the Antwerp geographer Abraham Ortelius revolutionized early modern Europe’s view of the world by publishing the very first atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.After the Fall of Antwerp, as mercantile knowledge and investors from the Southern Netherlands migrated to the north, Amsterdam quickly developed into Europe’s leading center of geography. This paper examines a little known yet important early atlas, Peeter and Zacharias Heyns’ Miroir du Monde (1598). Peeter Heyns, trained in the workshop of Christopher Plantin, left Antwerp for the Dutch Republic in the late 1580s, and played a key role in bringing new genres to the Amsterdam book market. After his death, his son Zacharias brought their collaborative project to a successful conclusion: Miroir du Monde ou epitome du Theatre d’Abraham Ortelius, the first pocket-sized atlas of the world produced in Amsterdam, disseminated geographical knowledge to a broader public at the time when ships from the Dutch Republic began to actively explore the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds. More importantly perhaps, Miroir du Monde helped to establish the cartographic leadership of the Northern Netherlands internationally. The authority of Dutch maps, with their perceived accuracy, decorative appeal, and geographical scope, would remain unrivaled at a time when our current worldview took root.
Orientalist ambivalence. Translating the Qur’an in the Dutch Republic
Lucas van der Deijl
The first transmission of the Qur’an into Dutch was preceded by a complex history of different textual genealogies. In 1641 bookseller Barent Adriaensz Berentsma printed De Arabische Alkoran, the first Dutch translation of all 114 surahs. It was modelled after the 1616 abbreviated version in German by Salomon Schweigger, who used Giovanni Battista Castrodardo’s Italian rendering from 1547, which was in turn translated from Robert of Ketton’s first Latin translation of the Arabic source, produced during the twelfth century and first printed by Swiss publisher Theodor Bibliander in 1543. In 1657 Jan Rieuwertsz published Mahomets Alkoran en Tweevoudige beschrijving van Mahomets leven, a second Dutch translation with a different textual origin. Jan Hendriksz Glazemaker – known for his Dutch translations of Seneca, Descartes and Spinoza – had translated this version from André du Ryer’s influential 1647 French edition. Glazemaker’s Alkoran was translated into German by Johann Lange in 1688 and reprinted eight times between 1658 and 1799.
This paper examines the pioneering cultural brokers involved in the production of the first Dutch Qur’an translations and compares their adaptation of Islam through paratextual analysis and computational collation of full digital transcripts. It argues that while the ambivalence between hostility and curiosity typical to Western orientalism informed both translations, the two editions also reveal different philological approaches and commercial strategies. This paper thus contributes to the study of early modern Dutch encounters with Islam and the (understudied) translation history of the Qur’an in Dutch.
The Purple Trail of Murex Brandaris: From Tyrian to East Indian and Dutch Beaches
Following the monstrous, spiral shape of the Murex brandaris, this paper will think, through various seventeenth-century sources, about the shell from which Tyrian purple was produced. Its aim will be to demonstrate how the violence of the Dutch overseas expansion was expressed even in representations of something as small as a shell.
Point of departure will be Philibert van Borssele’s Beach (Strande, 1611), a 56 pages long poem which reads like a cabinet of wonders. Van Borssele describes numerous shells, interpreting their forms and functions in early forms of conchology, scholarly commonplaces, and, ultimately, the greatness of Creation. This paper will explore the remote beaches of the Murex’s youth, trace the bloody trail of its extraction and skim over the purple robes of sovereign rulers. Through a sensory exploration of the purple dye Murex in its various representations, this paper not only shows how a world lies hidden in a shell, but also how an early seventeenth-century author arranged ecological violence and the violence committed against people within the Book of Nature.
Border Crossings and the Emergence of Dutch Literature
James A. Parente, Jr.
Through an analysis of the writings of the Dutch lawyer, poet, translator, and novelist Johan van Heemskerk (1597-1645), the lecture will challenge the traditional nationalistic, monolingual approach to early modern literature that obscures the complex web of relationships between history and literature, the indigenous and the foreign, and the local and the global. The lecture will explore the interplay between romance, history, politics and law in van Heemskerck’s Inleydinghe tot het ontwerp van een Batavische Arcadia (1637), and argue for the need to adopt a transnational approach to the study of literature that dismantles traditional linguistic and disciplinary boundaries and establishes early modern Netherlandic writing within a European framework for cosmopolitan readers of a new global Empire.
Enemy Treasures: The Making and Marketing of the Spanish comedia in the Amsterdam Schouwburg
Frans R. E. Blom
The establishment in 1638 of Amsterdam‘s first public theatre venue, the Schouwburg, caused a major enhancement and upgrading of local stock repertory. Spanish comedia was the new fuel. With Lope‘s drama in the frontline, new Spanish plays and playwrights were brought to the Schouwburg stage in a kind of serial production. Crowds gathered for anything Spanish, and Spain‘s victory over Dutch theatre life was complete even before the war was over in 1648. The paradox of Spain‘s triumph in the heart of Dutch culture is centre stage in this contribution. Focusing on the time between the closing years of the Revolt and the subsequent peace between Spain and the United Provinces, this presentation aims at re-imagining Dutch Golden Age theatre by demonstrating the popularity of Spanish comedia and analyzing the presentations that framed the Spanishness of the plays and playwrights as a new trademark for the Amsterdam theatre crowds.
Jan Six van Chandelier – An International Merchant and Poet
In the 17th century, the Dutch Republic was a centre of global exchange and dissemination of commodities and knowledge. A poet, who greatly materializes the role of the Republic as a hub of transnational exchange, is Jan Six van Chandelier (1620-1695), who was a trader in exotic drugs and dyes. Six, who ran the shop “The Golden Unicorn” in Amsterdam, addresses a number of exotic medicines and foodstuffs in his poems, such as musk and caviar, and even the blood of Charles I of England, and oysters from Colchester. At the same time, he also addresses a number of European cities and places, which he visited as a traveling merchant, in this texts.
In this paper I will, however, discuss Six as a “hub” of transnational literary exchange. In the history of literature, Six is already known for his adaptation of a poem by the Spanish poet Luis de Góngora. I will explore the relationship between Six and Gongora in my paper, and at the same time, I will broaden the scope by including English poets, both the English Metaphysical and Cavalier poets. Six travelled as merchant a couple of times to England, and he wrote poems to gentlemen he met at the other side of the Channel. I will explore traces of influence between Six and English poets.
Republican Empire: The (De)personalization of Imperial Power between Amsterdam and Batavia
Republican states that become imperial polities, from Ancient Rome to the modern USA, rest on a fundamental paradox: while cherishing the ideal of liberty at home, they exercise domination abroad. Arguably the best example of this paradox is the early-modern Dutch Republic. In the same decades the Dutch won their independence in a war against empire, they created their own empire by establishing colonies and trading posts overseas. This paper explores the ways in which this republican empire was conceptualized and represented in seventeenth-century literature, political thought, and imagery. In particular, it analyzes the tension between the communal idea of a res publica and the individual figure of an imperator, which in the classical republican tradition was seen as the main threat to the preservation of liberty.Focusing specifically on the representation of empire in Amsterdam, the undisputed centre of the Dutch Republic, and in Batavia, the centre of the Dutch colonial system in Asia, I will show how imperial power was personalized in the shape of a monarchical image of a single ruler to claim domination overseas, while it was depersonalized in the shape of a corporate, commercial vision of empire to offset the risk of single rule and republican decline and fall in the metropole.
Reading Bredero’s Dedicatory Letters Again: The Next Step
In the past century, Dutch historians of literature have studied seventeenth century book dedications mainly as an expression of career critism and patronage relationships, focusing on the benefits of patronage. Recently, the focus has increasingly been on prefatory rhetoric, also on the importance of strategies used in dedicatory letters to guide a book from a private to a public sphere. In the same way, topoi in prefatory material such as modesty and praises, the traditional quest for protection, for gifts or money, references to the interest of the dedicatee and the taking advantage of the dedicatee’s authority and status might indicate strategies of the writer to increase his social power by way of retorical skills. In my contribution, dedicatory letters by Gerbrand Adriaensz. Bredero (1585-1618) are read and analyzed again, as a sequel to my observations in Bredero’s Proza (2011). The publishing of Bredero’s plays in 1616 was new and must have been unexpected. The focus is on the context of these letters, especially that remarkable one dedicated to the world-famous Hugo de Groot (1583-1645). In its interplay between individual and public sphere the letter offered Bredero an important instrument in self-representation and self-authorisation.
Monotheism and the Law : Scholarship, Philo-Judaism, and the staging of Jewish religion in 17th Century Dutch Drama
This paper examines a number of mid-seventeenth century plays including Vondel’s Salomon, and Serwouters’ Hester, or the Deliverance of the Jews, which through the use of dramaturgy, material objects, and ritual acts perform Jewish religion before a predominantly, although not exclusively, Christian audience. Moving away from an explanatory model centred on the idea of either typology or historicity, it is argued that these plays, informed by the resources of Christian and Jewish Biblical and antiquarian scholarship, highlight both cultural difference and likeness. By exploring the dynamic confrontation between monotheism and paganism, religion and natural law, they invite their audiences to consider the beliefs shared between Christianity and Judaism through imaginative sympathy and identification. Viewed as a product of a particular cultural and intellectual ‘moment’ in the history of the Republic, these plays re-create the stage as an irenic space, in which the convergence between the core beliefs of Christians and Jews can be explored.
The Commercial Castle of the World: Imagineering Commercial Desires in the Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic was one of the first nations to develop a consumer-based economy, within the context of a globalizing world. How did this pre-modern market system take root in society? Affects and imagination played a central role in this process. As the Dutch Republic developed a ‘staple market for the imagination’ with its advanced book and art markets, it was well equipped to engineer behaviour through collective imaginaries. During the early modern period, a collective imaginary was produced that not only shaped commercial roles for the human self, its body and desires, but also created an affective economy that provided cohesion for an otherwise fragmented Dutch society. This collective imaginary can be described in terms of exchange: it was embedded in a global exchange of people, goods, and ideas. It envisioned itself as “‘s werelds koopslot” – the commercial castle of the world. Furthermore, the Dutch tried to export their imaginary and make it take root in various parts of the world.
This lecture will sketch how Dutch discourse embraced commercial values in the seventeenth century, envisioning the market as a global community. Literature and images played an important role in this process, as did material culture, e.g. the global commercial imaginary which was created around surrounding sugar products. Researching this imaginary may help us understand how market desires are engineered and how a market logic became to determine the fabric of society.
Global Romeyn: How Romeyn de Hooghe Engaged with Europe and the Overseas World
Henk van Nierop
The biography of the artist Romeyn de Hooghe (1645-1708) at first glance looks like a narrow Dutch affair. Apart from a stint in Paris, he spent little time abroad; he imagined and invented Europe and the overseas and colonial world from the tranquility of his workshop. The theme of this conference is a good opportunity to explore the artist in a wider transnational and global perspective. In my paper, I will address the following topics. First, to what extent was Romeyn de Hooghe aware that he was living and working at the hub of a global network in which people, commodities, art, news and ideas were exchanged? Second, how did he imagine the world outside the Dutch Republic, and on what sources did he draw when designing foreign landscapes, cities people, battles, customs, and religions? And finally, how was his work appreciated outside the boundaries of the United Netherlands, and did his work have an impact on printmaking abroad?
Johan de Witt’s International Relations in the Archives
As a grandpensionary, Johan de Witt controlled the Dutch political system from 1653 until shortly before his death in 1672. He was a key player in leading the flourishing sea trade of the United Provinces as a leading European power. Hence, for both national and international seventeenth-century history the study of De Witt’s agency is essential. Still, most scholars are unaware of the grandpensionary’s immense legacy of correspondence, presumably as a result of the limited accessibility of his archive, which was, until recently, the subject of a new inventory project. In cooperation with the Dutch National Archive (where most of De Witt’s correspondence is preserved) Huygens ING and Oxford’s Early Modern Online are now establishing a digital catalogue of the integral correspondence of Johan de Witt. An overall estimate shows that the total number of letters addressed to or sent by De Witt amounts to approximately 35,000, of which the first 7,000, mostly diplomatic letters sent to De Witt are now published online. By focusing on the diplomatic correspondence to and from Johan de Witt, this paper will introduce the new research opportunities of the project and address De Witt’s dominant international position and the practices of information exchange in the field of diplomatic communication.