PhD defence Jelmar Hugen: Multilingual diversity in Late Medieval Flemish literature

Detail van een panorama van Gent in 1534. Bron: Art in Flanders (public domain)

On 7 December, Jelmar Hugen will defend his thesis ‘Crossroads of Cultures: Multilingual Diversity in Dutch Literature from Late Medieval Flanders’.

Multicultural Flanders

During the late Middle Ages, the County of Flanders was an international, multicultural and multilingual crossroad of cultures. Dutch, French and Latin were used for everyday communication, commerce and official contact in cities, churches and courts.

But how did these languages interact when used in literary texts and manuscripts together? And what does the use of these languages tell us about the multilingual dynamics of the literary culture of medieval Flanders as a whole?

Jelmar Hugen addresses these questions by analysing the multilingual diversity of Dutch literature from Late Medieval Flanders and the functions of multilingualism as a literary tool and cultural phenomenon.


In his research, Hugen found that writers used multilingualism for aesthetic enrichment of the text, to add structure and to express social criticism. They also used it as part of a literary game and as a means of knowledge production.

This wide variation suggests that some Flemish authors were part of a broader literary discourse within which French and Latin were considered accepted aspects of Middle Dutch literature and that these languages could be deployed to enrich the work.

Start date and time
End date and time
Hybrid: online (click here) and at the Utrecht University Hall
PhD candidate
Jelmar Hugen
Crossroads of Cultures: Multilingual Diversity in Dutch Literature from Late Medieval Flanders
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. dr. A.A.M. Besamusca
Prof. dr. R. Sleiderink
Dr. A.T. Bouwman