Subproject 1

The Anglo-Dutch Wars (Lieke van Deinsen)

Just four years after the Peace Treaty of Münster had been signed, the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-1654) broke out, which was the first confrontation in a long series of wars fought against the British nation for control over naval trade routes. This initial conflict was followed by the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1677), the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674), and, more than a century later, the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784). This subproject will analyze Dutch self-images as expressed in the war and propaganda literature of these wars.

This subproject’s corpus mainly comprises pamphlets, because this was the most important medium used to influence public opinion (Harline 1987, De Kruif, Meijer Drees & Salman 2006, Rodriguez Perez 2006, Van Zuilen 2005). In the Knuttel pamphlet catalogue (compiled in 1978) at least 50 pamphlets can be found that are related directly to these wars. Ten plays and a considerable number of poems pertaining to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War can be added to this corpus.

This subproject consists of three components. Firstly, it will analyze the representation of the Dutch self-image in these propagandistic texts. Recent imagological research has revelead that the indigenous nationality is often contrasted with other nationalities, in terms of binary oppositions (Meijer Drees 1997, Leerssen 2007). The dynamics between the representation of the Self and the Other (the British nation, the Spanish nation etc.) must therefore be taken into account.

Secondly, there is a diachronical component. The sequence of Anglo-Dutch wars will reveal patterns of continuity and discontinuity in the representation of national self-images. Although there is a gap of more than a century between the first three and the final Anglo-Dutch war, this only makes such comparisons even more interesting. The ongoing process of national self-construction must therefore be considered in the light of the nation’s rise and decline, which was a burning issue at the time. The 1780’s, during which the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War was fought, are usually seen as a period of rapid economical and cultural decline in Dutch history (Kloek 1999, Kloek & Mijnhardt 2001, Van Sas 2004). Therefore, propaganda and war literature of this period will have to be studied in relation to this contradictory self-image.

Thirdly, the possible impact of texts will be assessed. The PhD candidate will rely mainly on earlier research concerning print runs and circulation figures (De Kruif, Meijer Drees & Salman 2006, Worp 1903-1907). Additional information can be derived from texts themselves, for which an exemplary study conducted by Rodriguez Perez (2006) can be used as a model. She focuses on the rhetorical application of convincing arguments (persuasio) to relate propaganda texts of the Dutch Revolt to their target audience.

Working plan

The PhD candidate will operationalise the four-layered methodological framework described above (text – intertext – historical context – impact). The first task will be to compile an inventory of propaganda texts concerning the Anglo-Dutch wars, using Knuttel (1978), Scheurleer (1914), the DBNL (Digital Library of Dutch Literature), Worp (1907), and Meijer Drees (1997). A selection from this collection will have to be made .

The selected material must subsequently be processed (text). The PhD candidate shall start by mapping out recurring patterns and tropes, so that it becomes possible to establishe what the tradition of these tropes is (intertext) and how they are enforced by patterns of contrast (self-image and image of the other). The PhD candidate must then try to explain shifts of interests in particular periods by situating texts in their historical background (historical context).

Finally, the texts’ audience function must be addressed (impact): how are rhetoric and national tropes geared to a target audience? How can the impact of texts be reconstructed?

Research questions

  • Which national self-images are disseminated (text)?
  • What is the intertextual tropicality of these images (intertext)?
  • What patterns of continuity and discontinuity can be seen in the course of four wars (1652-1784) (historical context)?
  • How do these images relate to their intended audience function (impact)?

Supervisors: Prof Dr Johan Oosterman (Radboud University Nijmegen, Dutch Language and Culture) and Dr Lotte Jensen