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Tim Vergeer MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Dutch History, Early Modern History, History of Emotions, Music & Theatre History

Cohort/Start PhD: 2017-2018

The Theatre of Emotions: Spanish Drama in the Seventeenth-Century Low Countries

Leiden University
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Wim van Anrooij, Dr Olga van Marion
Aanstelling: vanaf september 2017

The Dutch Golden Age had its own Hollywood: Spain. Like today’s film blockbusters, Dutch versions of Spanish plays were performed on the stages of Amsterdam, Antwerp and Brussels where they attracted large audiences. The theatres of these metropolises showcased the latest international vogues and innovations of the European literary entertainment industry.
The greatest innovation was the Spanish comedia nueva adapted for Dutch theatre. It was so popular that it dominated Dutch theatres for some hundred and fifty years between 1617 and 1772, especially in the seventeenth century. Unlike local theatre traditions, the comedias did not conform to the dominant neo-stoic and ‘classicist’ literary discourse in the Low Countries, but were essentially baroque and spectacular. Theatre-goers preferred the emotional experience of the imported Spanish plays to the staider tragic plots of Vondel, Hooft, ‘Nil Volentibus Arduum’ or even Vos.
This development raises the question of why the comedia nueva was so popular in the Low Countries. By analysing the tension between neo-stoic discourse and theatrical practices, this PhD research will examine the emotional culture in the seventeenth-century Low Countries and account for the emotionality of the comedias as opposed to the ‘stoic’ experience of emotions. The project will shed new light on the seventeenth-century Low Countries and our (still nineteenth-century biased) perception of the period. Through this, Vergeer will reveal the emotional multiculturality of the Golden Age. He will draw from the field of the History of Emotions, and shed new light on the entertainment industry of the Dutch Golden Age.