GEMS Seminar: Atelier with Annemieke Romein and Christophe Madelein

Time: Wednesday, February 27th, 2-4 PM

Place: Faculty Library Arts and Philosophy, Magnel wing, room “Herman Uyttersprot” (formerly room “Freddy Mortier”).

Annemieke Romein (UGent)
Protecting the fatherland, patriots in Jülich, Hesse-Cassel, and Brittany (1642-1655): Placing the cases in its context: resistance, offices, and state-building?

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In this presentation, I will discuss my (nearly completed) manuscript which is based upon my dissertational research. As the Thirty Years’ War raged through central Europe, the nobility of several European principalities found themselves facing increasingly controversial princely politics. Particularly the decisions about taxation and warfare were debatable. According to the nobility, both the Duke of Jülich and the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel harmed their inhabitants with illegally extracted resources to pay for armies. This led to heated debates in the German principalities about the noble privilege to consent to taxes and the possible attempts of princes to establish arbitrary rule. However, opposing princely politics equalled rebellion. Hence the relationship between a prince and his nobility became the focal point of discussion. A central concern of the nobility was therefore how to voice critique that could avoid condemnation as rebellion. To this end, they relied on fatherland terminology (fatherland, patria, and patriot). I will also (briefly) contrast the German cases with how the nobility of Brittany handled a similar situation – though no armies raided their province.

Image reference: Portret van Willem VI, landgraaf van Hessen-Kassel. Theodor Matham, after Anselm van Hulle, 1717. Holding institution: Rijksmuseum.

Christophe Madelein (UGent)
When the Levee Breaks: Sublime Awe for the Christmas Flood (1717) in a poem by H.K. Poot

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In the night of 24 December 1717 a flood hit the coast from Denmark to the Netherlands, killing approximately 12000 to even 16000 people. In the wake of the flood many poems were published, as is often the case with national disasters. I want to focus on one poem specifically, H.K. Poot’s “Op den hoogen watervloet, omtrent het einde des jaers MDCCXVII”. In this poem the flood is explicitly identified as a divine intervention. Rather than expand on the religious or theological argument as such, I want to focus on the aesthetic dimension of this connection, more precisely by reading it in the light of John Dennis’ notion of the sublime. In his The Grounds of Criticism (1704) Dennis lays down a classicist theory of art and literature, as the means to restore divine order. For him emotion is central to aesthetics, and no emotion is stronger than awe for the divine. In this light, poetry about disasters is not so much a lamentation or a call for charity and aid, as it is a celebration of the divine and a reminder of humility and piety. In Poot’s poem the attention shifts from the grand religious scheme to individual suffering, and back again, as it should for every individual reader and the nation at large, through the medium of sublime literature.

Image reference: Watersnood bij Amsterdam, 1717. Anonymous, 1718. Holding institution: Rijksmuseum

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