CFP: The Netherlandish 17th Century (10/31/06; 3/3/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Russ Leo
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MARCH 3, 2007

Keynote Speaker: Nigel Smith
Plenary Speakers: Kenneth Surin, Manuel Herrero Sánchez

Please submit abstracts (500 words) via email to
(place "Netherlands Conference Abstract" in the subject line) by
October 31, 2006.

Recent work in the history of early modernity highlights the
geopolitical contours of cultural production and the transnational
nature of polities prefiguring the idea of "Europe." Much dwells in
particular upon the Spanish and British Empires and their attendant
literary controversies-writing the New World through religious and
political administration and economic adventure. Yet the Greater
Netherlandish context of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
(histories and literatures in Dutch) is persistently excluded or
obscured by the familiar institutional determinations of national
literatures and histories. Netherlandish history is seldom placed in
conversation with English, Spanish, or French situations, nor is it
admitted into the afterlives of the Reformation or the register of
colonial/imperial competition. Despite notable contributions
foregrounding the importance of the Dutch context in intellectual
history and theology-investigating Spinoza's circle in particular-
insufficient attention has been paid more generally to the crucial
role the Dutch played in brokering a significant change in the
dynamics of power and cultural production in the Atlantic world.
Following the Revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish control,
Spanish imperial might was notably eclipsed by British and French
powers. In the Atlantic world, a dense history of conflicting
Reformations and Counter-Reformations, confessional practices and
disputed national characters ensued, from Huguenot poetry and praxis
to Spanish Reformation movements (such as Valdesian thought). The
economic and political power shift further determined much subsequent
development in the Americas as much as in Europe. A renewed attention
to the import of Netherlandish contexts ought to reshape our
understanding of the period and its controversies.

This one-day symposium aims to recuperate the Netherlandish context in
order to strengthen and complicate our understanding of philosophy,
religion, language, literature, art, history, and political economy-
the geopolitical shape of early modernity-with specific reference to
the transformations of the United Provinces and attendant territories,
in Europe and beyond. The symposium will examine the import of the
Netherlands in a moment of greatly significant circum-Atlantic change--
a moment which indeed set many of the parameters for culture and
politics still with us today.

Against a backdrop of shifting Imperial and European powers, in what
ways did the Dutch Golden Age mark a critical moment of transition
between Spanish and British imperial dominance, as well as a shift in
sovereignty in France? How does an investigation of the Netherlandish
context shape or reshape our understanding of the religious or
philosophical controversies of the period, from Reformation and
Counter-Reformation policies to the familiar institutional narratives
of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution? How might one
account for the importance of the Dutch context, or its historical
elision? We welcome submissions from a number of disciplines on
related topics, which may, but need not, discuss related themes such

-The emergence of a modern market economy
-The Dutch Revolt and its iterations in other situations (for
instance, in English Republican thought)
-The identification of a "Dutch" cycle of capital accumulation
-Remembering the Netherlandish context across a variety of disciplines
(New Amsterdam in American Studies; the Dutch in the East Asian
Studies; The Dutch roots of Arminianism, etc.)
-The post-Republic identification of the Dutch with (proto-national)
liberation movements against dynastic rule
-The disparities between emergent French Absolutism and Dutch
-Publishing and circulation of texts in the Netherlands, or Dutch
cultural production and its impact in other European situations
-Dutch visual cultures
-The Revolt of the Netherlands in Spanish literature: (e.g. Lope de
Vega's Los Españoles en Flandes; El Assalto de Mastrique por el
Principe de Parma; Pobreza no es Vileza, etc. )
-The history of philosophy, including Spinozism, in the Netherlands
and beyond
-The Dutch slave trade in light of the Spanish, French and British
-The place of the Netherlands in British perpetuations of the Black
-Anglo-Dutch; Spanish-Dutch; Franco-Dutch rivalry in the New World
-Netherlandish humanism

Russ Leo
PhD Candidate / The Program in Literature at Duke University

Standing on Earth, not rapt above the Pole,
More safe I Sing with mortal voice, unchang'd
To hoarce or mute, though fall'n on evil dayes,
On evil dayes though fall'n, and evil tongues
     - John Milton, Paradise Lost
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Received on Thu Jun 15 2006 - 09:58:16 EDT