De Achttiende Eeuw 35 (2003) nr.1
Eveline Koolhaas-Grosfeld, Verklaring der plaat
Peter J.A.N. Rietbergen, De prophets of Jan Nomsz (1738-1803): Zoroaster and Mohammed
The eighteenth-century Amsterdam writer Jan Nomsz (1738-1803) is mainly known as a prolific translator of, mostly, French plays, and as author of a smaller number of original literary works. On both fronts, historians of Dutch literature have not judged him kindly. This contribution tries to prove that their negative comments may have to be reviewed, at least if we consider two of Nomsz’s own works: his tragedy Zoroaster (1768) and his ‘romantic’ biography Mohammed (1780). These texts have obvious literary merit; moreover, the ideas contained therein show Nomsz’s surprising position in the eighteenth-century debate on the western and non-western views of man and society, within the context of a religious or, rather, an enlightened culture.
Joris van Eijnatten, The Church Fathers Assessed. Nature, Bible and Morality in Jean Barbeyrac
In his Traité de la morale des peres de l’Eglise (1728), the French-German-Dutch Huguenot Jean Barbeyrac (1674-1744) responded at length to critical reflections previously made by the French Benedictine Dom Rémi Ceillier (1688-1761) in the Apologie de la morale des pères de l’église (1718). Ceillier had made exception to what he regarded as the cavalier treatment of the Church Fathers in Barbeyrac’s translation of Pufendorf’s Le droit de la nature & des gens. Barbeyrac put forward his objections in the Traité de la morale, pointing out that the moral philosophy of the major patristic writers was both unbiblical and unreasonable. He assessed the Church Fathers’ moral philosophy by judging it against both nature and the Bible as the two authoritative sources of moral knowledge. Barbeyrac juxtaposed Reason and Revelation, arguing that nature is normative in all matters unrelated to speculative doctrine. His historical scholarship and his views of nature implicitly seem to lead to quite radical interpretations, including a deist view of the Christian revelation and an affirmation of absolute political equality. Barbeyrac’s own thought, however, does not appear to be free from religious and political ambiguities. The source of these ambiguities may well be his somewhat delicate position as a Hugenot refugee dependent on the support of foreign masters.
Hanco Jürgens, Which Enlightenment? Phasing and locating a concept
This article is a ‘state of the art’ on the concept of Enlightenment. Although the study of the Enlightenment is embedded in a strong scholarly tradition, the concept itself has different meanings and is appropiated in different ways side by side, often even to explain mutual contradictory trends. The author discusses four different approaches of the concept. According to the first approach the Enlightenment is seen as a state of mind, the dawn over the darnesso f the mind. The second approach considers the concept as part of a dichotomy, with Romanticism, with the darkness or with the Counter-Enlightenment. The third approach considers Enlightenment as a step forward towards modernity. The fourth approach presents the Enlightenment in a more historicized, contextualized, and decentralized picture as an epoch. In this approach, the contradictory developments are included and the different historical approaches are integrated to achieve a more complete concept of the Enlightenment. The study of the global Eighteenth Century should not submerge in general over-all discussions but should be embedded in local contexts, in the details, which give most information on forms of interaction, differences in habtis and customs, motives and means, styles and forms and experiences of similarity and difference. Finally, the author contextualizes Enlightenment-Studies within the context of Twentieth-Century history.
Eveline Koolhaas, ‘Man, know thyself’: Anthropology as the source for the ‘volkskunde’ of Johannes Le Francq van Berkheij
This article deals with the concepts ‘volksbeschrijving’, ‘volkskunde’ and ‘volkskenner’, (to be understood as the description, the knowledge and the scholar of a nation) as used for the first time in Dutch in the ethnographical volumes of the Natuurlijke historie van Holland (Natural history of Holland) of the medical doctor and poet Johannes Le Francq van Berkheij, published in 1776. As far as we know at this early date this was unique. Berkheij’s intention was to profile the ‘national’ (read Hollandish) identity. This he shared with other Dutch scholars. Berkheij however was the first to take the natural history of man as his starting point. Logically the content of his ‘volkskunde’ is to be examined in this context.
Berkheij starts his ethnographical description by quoting Linnaeus’ appeal to scientists, using his slogan ‘Man, know thyself’, to study the natural, anatomical and medical aspects of the human species as well as its moral, political and religious qualities. A science encompassing both the physical and the cultural did indeed emerge. As far as we know it was labeled ‘anthropology’ for the first time in 1778 in a French dictionary. However if we look in the popular encyclopedia Huishoudelijk Woordenboek (Housekeeping Dictionary) and combine the entries ‘Anthropologia’ or ‘Menschenleere’ and ‘Mensch’, we discover that the new explanation of anthropology was introduced in Holland as early as 1768. The theoretical framework and method of Buffon’s natural history of man are crucial to our understanding of Berkheij’s wide ranging choice of subjects and the ‘modern’ character of his approach. Modern because of: – his interest in the geographical and social variety of the population of Holland, – the manner in which he describes the different groups synchronically as well as diachronically, – and his preoccupation with sexual reproduction as the cause of ethnic diversification or ‘degeneration’. At the same time however, Berkheij searched for things not changed, for the ‘pure’ relics of the Batavians, our supposed forefathers. He is highly original in his use of art and poetry as sources for the physiological and cultural description of the Holland’s nation in the past.
De Achttiende Eeuw 35 (2003) nr.2
Eveline Koolhaas-Grosfeld, Verklaring der plaat
Freek Schmidt, Reforming Correction: the eighteenth-century Amsterdam workhouse and Abraham van der Hart
In the late seventies of the eighteenth century, the Amsterdam magistrate commissioned the architect Abraham van der Hart to build a new workhouse, which became the largest building in the city. Its importance as an example of enlightened institutional and social reform in eighteenth-century architecture and as a vital stage in the ‘birth of the prison’, as described by Michel Foucault, has remained unnoticed.
The seventeenth-century predecessors of the building have received attention from specialists (Sellin 1944) and more recently the penal system of the seventeenth-century Amsterdam houses of correction was even presented as a characteristic of Dutch seventeenth-century culture (Schama 1987). However, around the middle of the century enlightened reformers were becoming aware that the penal system in the Dutch Republic was not functioning properly. All over Europe, disciplinary institutions were being examined and through the influence of prison reformer John Howard and others, the public was becoming aware that most prisons were not suited for their purpose: they were only capable of confining criminals, not of re-educating them. Although the seventeenth-century Dutch houses of correction were still being presented as a model for new institutions outside the Netherlands, in Amsterdam the shortcomings of these buildings were already widely discussed. The new workhouse demonstrates a newly arisen concern for the well-being of the homeless and bears witness to the growing international movement for the social reform of institutions. Its solution to specific problems of pauperism and crime could only have emerged in Amsterdam at that particular time, when discussions concerning pauperism, poverty and economic recovery were strongly entwined. In this article, therefore, the building is considered as a specific Dutch contribution to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, a contribution that shows its delicate relation to the Amsterdam work house tradition.
Gijsbert Rutten, Vondel’s ‘Volkomen voorbeeldt’. Transmission of Vondelianism in the eighteenth century: a didactical programme
The reputation of Vondel as the greatest Dutch poet of the seventeenth century, and indeed ever, was established in the second half of the seventeenth century and still defended at the end of the eighteenth. A set of mainly early-eighteenth-century linguistic and literary texts in which Vondel’s normative status was propagated is to be held responsible for this ‘transmission of Vondelianism’. This is demonstrated in two ways: the texts contributed to the creation of a canon of Vondel and Vondelianists, and grammatical prescriptivism somewhat secretly preserved Vondel’s linguistic norms well into the eighteenth century. The texts concerned covered linguistic, literary as well as stilistic and rhetorical aspects, as a result of which they constituted a full didactical programme for students of language and literature, especially those with literary ambitions. ‘Transmission’ is proposed as a more accurate analytical term to describe this process than ‘imitatio’, because it refers to the dynamic relation between teacher, student and exemplum (i.c. Vondel) in which imitatio is only the procedure the student should adopt in order to create Vondel-like poetry. Throughout the paper the unity of linguistics and literary studies with regard to the early modern period is argued.
René Vos, A Golden Age with large holes. Recent developments around the ‘Republic of Newspapers’ 1675-1800
Amsterdam has the reputation of being the earliest newspaper centre of Western Europe. From as early as 1618, and particularly since the 1670ies, Dutch newspapers were widely distributed and read all over Europe, and in some cases even translated and reprinted. The period 1675-1800 can certainly be considered to be the ‘Golden Age of the Dutch Press’.
It is, however, a Golden Age with large holes, in sources, knowledge and research. Dutch newspaper collections of the 17th and 18th centuries cover only small portions. For that reason, research on newspapers from the early modern period in Holland is rather thin and mainly relies upon the outdated publications of W.P. Sautijn Kluit from the late 1900s.
On the other hand, over the last 25 years there is a substantial interest in the international influence and distribution of ‘les Gazettes de Hollande’ during the Ancien Regime. The Institut Pierre Bayle at the University of Nijmegen plays a mayor role in this international arena of publications, colloquia and exchanges.
Another mayor development is the discovery of very large collections of – in many cases unique – early modern period Dutch newspapers, from Berkeley to Moscow and from Stockholm to Naples. The Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the Nederlands Persmuseum have joint forces in formulating a project proposal for a dynamic Digital Library of Dutch newspapers 1618-1869, including a bi-lingual catalogue and bibliography, microfilming of national and foreign collections and – eventually – full text digitization. A pilot project for 17th century newspapers is in preparation.
Edwin van Meerkerk, Dyads, intermediaries and networks: a model for the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of the printed word in the eighteenth century
The history of the book has used various models for the analysis and description of the production, distribution, and consumption of texts. These models, however, such as Robert Darnton’s ‘Communication circuit’ and Pierre Bourdieu’s field-theory, fail to grasp the full complexity of the networks around the production of printed matter. This article proposes a new model for the analysis of writing, printing, and bookselling, using both concepts from Bourdieu and Darnton and concepts derived from sociological network theory. The main purpose of this new model is to grasp the dynamics of book production and to distinguish functions and processes from persons and institutions. Sociological network theory is a discipline that has its roots in the mathematical analysis of graphs. In the statistical analysis several key concepts are distinguished that can be used, mutatis mutandis, for the study of eighteenth-century book production. The most important of these are: centrality, which is the degree to which a ‘point’ (person, institution) is connected to other points in a network; intermediary, a point which is essential to the connection between others or other groups; path, the ‘route’ via which two point are connected; and the in- and out-degree, signifying the general direction of the contacts a certain point has. By focusing on these concepts, the force field around the production of a book is brought into view.