Current Projects

A New Take on the Bible: The Conditions that Shaped Fifteenth-Century Biblical Criticism

In Western culture today, we read the Bible not only as a holy book, but also as an object of critical study. This project explores the conditions that shaped biblical criticism in the fifteenth century, when the Vatican became a new center of learning and texts became more easily available.

Faith in Jest: Humour and the Literature of the English Reformation

This project investigates the way in which humour was used to relieve religious anxieties in Reformation England (1529-1642), and, as such, contributed to a more peaceful climate. It does so by studying how questions of faith were humorously reconfigured in imaginative literature – that is, long and short fictional narratives in the form of drama, jests and prose tales – and by examining these reconfigurations in the light of early modern and modern theories of the functions of humour. 

Poets and Profits: A new History of Dutch Literary Authorship 1550-1750

This project aims to rewrite the traditional narrative of profitable authorship. In this narrative, patronage and professionalism are placed in chronological succession, whereas recent insights show that patronage was not replaced by professionalism, but co-existed in alternate forms. Patronage and professionalism were much more entangled in the Dutch Republic than in other European countries and possibilities and restrictions for financial gain encountered by Dutch authors thus need to be part of a new European narrative. 

Language Dynamics in the Dutch Golden Age: linguistic and social-cultural aspects of intra-author variation

The vibrant political, religious and cultural atmosphere of the Dutch Golden Age interacted with language. 17th century Dutch was a mixture of fading linguistic properties from the preceding language phase, Middle Dutch, and upcoming new ways to construct words and sentences. How can we account for the variation, seemingly randomly displayed by authors? This project charts and explains the grammatical properties of intra-author variation, as well as the social- and literary-cultural factors that influenced the way individual authors used their variation in a strategic and/or creative way.

Golden Agents: Creative Industries and the Making of the Dutch Golden Age

The Dutch Golden Age’s paintings, books, ceramics etc. still fascinate millions of people, but how did these creative outbursts emerge? In the ‘Golden Agents’ Research Infrastructure, so-called computer agents ingeniously connect existing and new databases to facilitate interdisciplinary research that unravels the inner dynamics of this creative miracle.

Sound Memories: The Musical Past in Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Europe (SoundMe)

An international consortium of music scholars will investigate the genesis and early development of the concept of ‘music of the past’ in 13th-century Paris, made possible by newly invented technologies of writing musical time. They will also trace the deployment of such music in the service of various political and religious agendas across Europe in a series of case studies ranging chronologically from the 14th to the 16th century.

  • Project leader: Prof. Karl Kügle
  • Partners: University of Cambridge, University of Heidelberg, Charles University Prague, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw
  • Duration: 2016-2019
  • Funding: HERA
The Europeans Dimensions of Popular Print Culture (EDPOP)

The aim of this project is to develop an international network and a virtual research environment (VRE) to facilitate and stimulate innovative research on European popular print culture. The key question of the project is: how European was popular print culture in the period 1450-1900? The results of this project will shed new light on processes of cultural exchange, on the similarities and differences of popular genres, on international collaboration in the book industry, on the organisation of transnational distribution networks and on the multifaceted practices around translation, appropriation, adaptation and reception of stories, songs and images.

  • Project leader: Dr Jeroen Salman
  • Members: Dr Katell Lavéant; Dr Habil. Rita Schlusemann; Dr Helwi Blom
  • Duration: 2016-2018
  • Funding: NWO Internationalisation
Uncovering Joyful Culture: Parodic Literature and Practices in and around the Low Countries (13th-17th centuries)

This project studies the cultural practices and the literary production of joyful culture (among which parodic texts in French and Dutch), in order to demonstrate the essential role of parody in social cohesion in the pre-modern era.

Annotating History: Managing Digital Heritage Interactively

In the project ‘Annotating History: Managing Digital Heritage Interactively’, historians from Utrecht University work together with Brill Publishers, Museum Huis Doorn and the University Library to develop new possibilities for annotating digitised heritage (such as early printed books, archival documents and images). They will design a versatile annotation tool, based on a prototype that was developed in the project 'Annotated Books Online' (2012-2014).

  • Project leader: Prof. Arnoud Visser
  • Funding: NWO Alfa Meerwaarde grant
ARTECHNE - Technique in the Arts: Concepts, Practices, Expertise, 1500-1900

How do artists master their art? Considering ‘technique’ as a textual, material and social practice, this project offers a long-term history of the theory and practice of the study of ‘technique’ in the visual and decorative arts between 1500 and 1950. It creates a database of recipes and techniques, an online historical semantic map of ‘technique’ and experimentally reconstructs historical recipes to open the black box of the transmission of technique in the visual and decorative arts.

  • Project leader: Prof. Sven Dupré
  • Duration: 2015 - 2020
  • Funding: ERC Consolidator
Coordinating for life. Success and failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800

This project wants to better understand the factors that determine the extent to which a society is resilient to shocks and disasters. All societies are regularly confronted with disasters such as earthquakes, erosion, floods, hunger or war. While some are able to prevent such disasters, respond adequately, and recover quickly, others remain vulnerable and badly affected. Why is that the case? It has been demonstrated that wealth and technology alone are not sufficient factors which can prevent disasters. Factors relating to how society is organised also play a crucial role. This is the focus of research, in particular the strength of the society regarding the exchange, allocation and use of land, labour and capital. The researchers will study the various socio-economic factors in Western European societies from 1300 to 1800 in order to gain insight into the key determinants of the success or failure of society.

  • Project leader: Prof. Bas van Bavel
  • Participants: Daniel Curtis, Dr Tim Soens, Dr Eline van Onacker, Bram van Besouw
  • Duration: 2014-2019
  • Funding: European Research Council / ERC Advanced Grant
Prof. dr. Els Stronks
Prof. Els Stronks delivering a lecture at the National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague