The Transnational Impact of Latin Theatre from the Early Modern Netherlands


During the last decade, transnational literary studies try to overcome structures of ‘national’ literary historiography grounded in nineteenth-century state-building. Literary studies of early modern Europe (1500-1650) are being rewritten, but the intrinsic transnational impact of Neo-Latin literature, especially drama, has been overlooked. This is particularly unfortunate, since this omission has resulted in a distorted view of early modern literature in European languages.


This project aims at correcting this misrepresentation through an innovative, systematic analysis of the international network of Netherlandish Neo-Latin playwrights and the vital interaction between Latin theatre and a ‘transnational’ web of plays. A computational analysis of the Neo-Latin drama network, combined with a qualitative investigation of sources, will deepen our understanding of the concept, rationale and processes of transnationality and of the drama’s intended audiences. It will demonstrate that the impact of Netherlandish Neo-Latin theatre on European drama was in various ways essential for the development of vernacular drama, and that European drama was more cosmopolitan than assumed so far.

The project will be relevant in three ways:

  1. it will modify the historiography of early modern European drama and its audiences and explore new ways of writing literary history with the help of digital humanities;
  2. a digital methodology will be developed that is applicable to other literary genres;
  3. it will examine highly contested concepts such as ‘national identity’ and contribute to the most central current debates on immigration (and its ‘dangers’) and ‘national values’ from a historical perspective, qualifying claims of ‘protecting national culture’.