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Martha Visscher-Houweling MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Digital Humanities, Dutch History, Languages & Literature, Religious History & Theology

A digital perspective on developments in the twentieth and twenty-first century Dutch Bible Belt

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Department Art and Culture, History, Antiquity
Promotoren/begeleiders: Prof. dr. Fred van Lieburg, Prof.dr. Els Stronks, Steef de Bruijn
Aanstelling: Vanaf juni 2015

The subject of this research project is the Dutch Bible Belt in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The Dutch Bible Belt is a strip of land in the Netherlands which is inhabited by a large number of orthodox Protestants. According to recent studies several processes take place in the Bible Belt, for example emancipation, the growth of evangelical influence and the influence of digital media. The digitization of a large corpus of orthodox Protestant documents, like church periodicals, sermons, conversion stories and even a daily newspaper, provides the opportunity to take a closer look at several processes. Digital research methods make it possible to research such a large corpus of texts and to find patterns which probably were not thought of before.
A first research theme is the use of language. Traditionally orthodox Protestants are known for their specific language use, called the language of Canaan. If orthodox protestant texts are compared with other texts, is indeed a specific use of language detectable? If so, how did this language develop over time? Are there differences in the use of language which depend on the specific denominations? An in 1972 published lexicon of Protestant language provides a good basis for comparison. Besides language some other, still to be determined, phenomena and developments in the Dutch Bible Belt will be researched. Possible topics are network formation, public opinion about hot issues in the societal and religious debate, remembrance culture, emotion management and the formation of traditions.