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Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies 34.2 (July 2010)

1 July 2010

Dutch Crossing: Journal of Lwo Countries Studies

The latest issue of Dutch Crossing, the international peer-reviewed research journal on interdisciplinary Low Countries Studies, edited at UCL Dutch, has just been published (vol. 34, no. 2, July 2010).

Jan Machielsen (Oxford) opens the issue with a study on early modern print history focusing on sixteenth century Antwerp, one of the centres of print and publishing in the Low Countries and indeed in early modern Europe. Examining the question that scholars have always asked themselves (even before the introduction of research assessment exercises), namely how to get their work published, he exemplarily contrasts the successful approach of the Spanish-Flemish Jesuit Martin Delrio (1551–1608) with the vain attempts of the English Catholic Thomas Stapleton (1535–1598) to convince their publisher, Jan Moretus, Christophe Plantin’s successor as proprietor of the famous Plantin Press, to commit their writings to print. The two case studies, apart from demonstrating the testy relations between publisher and authors at the time, shed light on Moretus’ considerations as publisher and the market forces that were at work in early modern publishing.

Freya Sierhuis (Munich) provides a re-appraisal of Pieter Cornelisz Hooft’s tragedy Geerardt van Velsen (1613), a dramatization of the rebellion of Dutch noblemen against Floris V, Count of Holland and Zeeland, at the end of the thirteenth century. Her new reading of the play’s complex political stance shows Hooft not only balancing two conflicting strands of early modern political thought, Tacitist raison d’état on the one hand, and Grotian natural law on the other, but also providing a highly sophisticated comment on Macchiavelli’s intellectual legacy, in order to answer the central question of the morality and legitimacy of republicanism and tyrannicide in the period.

Similarly, Mary Christine Barker (Auckland) reinterprets one of the most famous of all Rembrandt’s etchings, the Death of a Virgin from 1639. Her research challenges the established notion of Rembrandt as a ‘protestant’ painter and shows how this designation both limits and distorts the reading of some of his works. Using insights from Catholic theology and Christian legend her reading suggests that Rembrandt transcended the religious categories of his time as well as those that our present era has tried to impose on him.

Literary studies and art history are brought together by Julien Vermeulen (Kortrijk) in his study of Hugo Claus’s reconstructing the old masters in his literary writings. The recently deceased Belgian master (1929–2008), himself not only a poet who has been shortlisted for the Noble Prize for decades but also a life-long practising modernist painter, probably best-known for his involvement in the international COBRA group in the 1950s, borrowed a wide range of motifs for his poetry from the baroque surrealism typical of some paintings by Brueghel, Bosch, Memlinc or Van der Goes. His poems reveal a complex inter-artistic dimension, showing affinities not only with ‘old masters’ but also with works by contemporary artists such as Corneille, Alechinsky, Appel and Raveel. The canonized status of medieval art is treated in the subversive registers of colloquial language, a postmodern poetic approach that began long before the term ‘postmodernism’ was coined.

Demmy Verbeke (Leuven) rounds the issue off with a lively piece on a seemingly timeless topic, drink culture and alcohol abuse in early modern Britain. Using two works, which were advertised as translations from either Dutch or German despite the fact that they were original English compositions, he investigates the reputation of Germany and the Netherlands as heavy-drinking nations and the alleged or real cultural transfers that have taken place in this field from the continent to Britain.

Ulrich Tiedau

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Page last modified on 07 jul 10 08:04 by Ulrich Tiedau