Translatin

Duration: January 2020 - October 2023
Subsidy provider: NWO Free Competition
Subsidy size: 750,000 euro

In the early modern period (1500-1750), a flourishing literary genre existed that was practised across all Europe: Neo-Latin drama. The research project ‘TransLatin: The transnational impact of Latin drama from the early modern Netherlands, a qualitative and computational analysis’ will make a systematic analysis of the international network of Neo-Latin playwrights from the Netherlands using innovative digital resources and new digital methodologies. And the same for the lively interaction between Latin theater and the ‘transnational’ web of plays.

During the last decade, transnational literary studies try to rewrite the history of early modern European literature. Too long research was based on the structures of ‘national’ literary historiography grounded in nineteenth-century state-building. Because of it the intrinsic transnational impact of Neo-Latin literature, especially drama, has been overlooked.

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’.

The project ‘TransLatin: The transnational impact of Latin drama from the early modern Netherlands, a qualitative and computational analysis’ has been made possible by an NWO Open Competition grant of 750,000 euros. This means that main applicant Jan Bloemendal can appoint a postdoc and a PhD student (in the field of Neolatin and Digital Humanities) and a research assistant for four years, as well as call in IT help.