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André Looijenga MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Dutch History, Early Modern History, Languages & Literature

Cohort/Start PhD: 2023-2024

The Re-invention of Written Frisian

University of Amsterdam

Supervisors: prof.dr. A.P. Versloot (UvA), dr. S. Halink (Fryske Akademy)

In its Early Modern stage, the Frisian language was clearly distinct from the neighboring Dutch and Low German and was only used within its specific language area. Although in the late Middle Ages there had been a local tradition of writing in (West) Frisian, from ca. 1530 onwards the language was severely marginalized even in its core area. However, after two generations of ‘silence’, after 1600 some printed texts in Frisian began to appear. In the Frisian case, literature in print started with epithalamic pastoral poetry (‘peasant dialogues’), secular love songs, and a collection of proverbs.

The aim of my PhD project is to reconsider the phenomenon of 17th century Frisian writing from its multilingual context, by combining cultural history, sociology of language and early modern vernacular and Latin literary studies.

How did this particular small-scale renaissance of writing in a distinct local vernacular come about? What was the position of 17th century Frisian texts in a regional print culture dominated by Latin and Dutch? Who were the authors of these texts, and how did Latin language education influence their literary experiments in a marginal vernacular?

Part of my project is a comparative study of literary writing and language attitudes in two other Early Modern European local vernaculars: Occitan and Low German.