One of the direct outcomes of the Vidi project ‘Proud to be Dutch’ is Lotte Jensen’s recently published book Celebrating Peace: The Emergence of Dutch Identity, 1648-1815. In her book, which can be found here, Jensen focuses on early modern peace treaties and their significant boost to Dutch identity.
“The idealised image of the Netherlands as a harmonious country grown prosperous on fatted cows and flourishing trade was a popular one at national celebrations of peace. When in 1648 the Peace of Münster formally recognized the Dutch Republic as a sovereign state, countless writers reached for their pen to give expression to their joy. Some 150 years later, at the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the Dutch were once again dreaming of a golden future.
Celebrating Peace shows how peace treaties gave a significant boost to the Dutch national identity. Each war’s end brought space for thoughts of the future, of a better society, and the peace was celebrated with exuberant parties, cannon salvos, fireworks and songs of praise. Writers and poet-statesman gave voice to their patriotism and extolled the virtues of Dutch sea and war heroes. There were also the first signs of an emergent self-awareness as Europeans; peace was the glue between nations.
But in each treaty lurked the germ of new war. The former enemy was treated with contempt. A debate rose up on the precise nature of an ideal Netherlands. No matter which side Dutch writers took, a national identity took shape in their words.”
On June 7, Bart Verheijen successfully defended his dissertation at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Verheijen is the second PhD Candidate of the ‘Proud to be Dutch’ group to finish his research. His book, Nederland onder Napoleon [The Netherlands under Napoleon], can be bought here.
In his book, Verheijen zooms in on the Napoleonic period in the Netherlands, a time of immense change. After his coup d’état, Napoleon gradually expanded his power from France to all of the European mainland, including the Netherlands. Between 1801 and 1813, the Netherlands changed from a republic to a monarchy, and from an annexed part of the Empire to an independent state, headed by the son of the last stadholder.
In Nederland onder Napoleon, Verheijen analyses the debates of the time, which accompanied and discussed this quick succession of political regimes. How did pamphlets, songs and literature reflect this changing Dutch identity? And how did the perception of Napoleon change? To what extent did these political and literary reactions aid the rise of patriotism and cultural nation building in a time when independence was under pressure?
Today, 12 May 2017, Lieke van Deinsen will defend her dissertation in the auditorium of the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Van Deinsen is the first PhD Candidate of the ‘Proud to be Dutch’ group to finish her research. Her dissertation, titled Literaire erflaters: canonvorming in tijden van culturele crisis, 1700-1750 (Literary Testates: Canonization in Times of Cultural Crisis, 1700-1750), focuses on the so-called ‘Panpoëticon Batavûm’, an eighteenth-century collection of small portraits depicting literary figures from the Low Countries. Examining the Panpoëticon, which has been lost and scattered throughout the ages, and investigating an abundance of Dutch literature, which extols the virtues of the collection, Van Deinsen shows that the eighteenth century was a vital period for processes of literary canonization. By engaging with the ever-growing Panpoëticon, Dutch authors elucidated their struggle with the deeply-felt belief that their own culture was in crisis. The Panpoëticon offers a great source to understand the literary debate in the eighteenth-century Netherlands.
Lieke’s book can already be bought online. For more on her work, check out her personal website and this review (in Dutch). Also make sure to check out her website that focuses on the individual portraits and authors in the collection.
We would like to congratulate Lieke with her outstanding dissertation. We wish her all the best in her future academic endeavours!
A short while ago Amsterdam University Press published The Roots of Nationalism: National Identity Formation in Early Modern Europe, 1600-1815 (ed. Lotte Jensen), the proceedings of our eponymous 2015 conference. The book can be accessed free of charge on the website of AUP. The Roots of Nationalism contains an introduction by Lotte Jensen on early modern identity formation as well as articles of all three PhD members of the ‘Proud to be Dutch’ project: Bart Verheijen (on Dutch identity in resistance songs against Napoleon), Lieke van Deinsen (on the creation of a literary canon in the nineteenth century), and Alan Moss (on national thought in travel accounts of the seventeenth-century).
On 19 April 2016, from 17:00 to 18:30, SPUI25 in Amsterdam will host the book presentation of The Roots of Nationalism: National Identity Formation in Early Modern Europe, 1600-1815. This book, published by Amsterdam University Press, is a direct result of our 2015 conference on the formation of national identity in early modern Europe.The book discusses a wide variety of topics on identity formation and contains contributions from, among others, David Bell, Azar Gat, and David Hadfield.
During the book presentation, Joep Leerssen, Judith Pollmann and Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez, three renowned experts in the field, will debate several key questions of the book. How old is national thought? When did national identities emerge? Can we identify an early modern cultural continuity as a foundation for modern examples of nationalism? Is there a general pattern of identity formation in Europe or do have do differentiate between countries like Iceland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, France, Russia, and England?
For more information on the upcoming book presentation, please visit the website of SPUI25. Registration is free of charge.
Bart Verheijen has started a crowdfunding campaign in order to record Dutch resistance songs, which were once sung against Napoleon and the French during the Napoleonic annexation of the Netherlands. The songs offer a good sense of the impact that the French annexation had on the Dutch population. They were also sung to avoid the strict French system of censorship: from 1806 to 1813, when other forms of media were no longer or not yet available, these resistance songs served as the primary means of informing and connecting the Dutch people.
By recording these songs with the help of professional musicians and providing lyrics and explanations, these songs will gain a new life. However, money is needed to achieve this goal: €3,500, for starters. Help to give these songs their deserved place in history by donating via this site! All donations are welcome. Thank you very much for your support!
Would you like to learn more about the songs, Bart Verheijen or the progress of the project? Please take a look at www.ru.nl/verzetsliederen or follow Bart on Twitter.