Suzanne Kooloos MA
Area(s) of interest: Dutch History, Early Modern History, History of Knowledge, Languages & Literature
“Paper, Bubble and Wind Trade”: Economies of Theatre in the Dutch Republic and Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid (1720)
University of Amsterdam
Supervisors: Prof. dr. Jan Lazardzig (Freie Universität Berlin) and Prof. dr. Kati Röttger (University of Amsterdam)
This research project sets out to analyse the entanglement of theatre and financial speculation in the early modern period. At the centre of this analysis is Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid, published in Amsterdam in 1720. This book criticises financial speculation in France (Mississippi Bubble), England (South Sea Bubble), and the Dutch Republic. The Tafereel is the most complex and extensive book on the economic bubbles and contains a varying collection of objects such as engravings, plays and pamphlets. I refer to both the Tafereel and the (paper) materials related to the crisis as “bubble objects”, a broad category that includes porcelain, tobacco boxes and even furniture, items which have not yet been taken into account in (cultural) historical research on the bubbles. They are defined by two characteristics: they were traded during or soon after a bubble, and they criticised economic behaviour related to this bubble. Bubble objects thus helped to create a crisis narrative, and meanwhile became profitable because of this invention. They do not illustrate economic events, but are cultural-economic agents that actively comment on and thus help to construct notions of crisis. This was enabled by utilising theatre and its metaphors: motives of role play, masquerade, fools parades and magic were used to shape, contest, and give meaning to financial speculation. In this research project, bubble objects are thus not seen as an illustration of economic events, but—in line with New Materialist thought—as agents within economies of theatre. Theoretically, this research has its foundation in New Materialism and the conceptualisations of theatricality in theatre studies. It will also integrate concepts from literary studies, art history, and the field of history of knowledge.