Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, KNAW (Amsterdam)
Dinah Wouters received her PhD in medieval literature from Ghent University and is now a postdoc at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, where she studies early modern drama. The link between these projects is the question of the specificity of Latin literature and its role in European literatures.
“I have written my PhD dissertation on the vision books of Hildegard of Bingen. I studied how allegory and exegesis work in tandem to carve out a distinct position for these prophetic texts in the intellectual landscape of mid-twelfth century Western Europe. I find it productive to think of Hildegard not as the ‘prophetessa teutonica,’ as she has been called, but as an author who is trying to position her Latin text in the field of European literature, claiming at the same time its exceptional prophetic authority and its intellectual qualities. She rejects rhetoric and Latin schooling, but uses the symbolic and linguistic potential of the Latin language to state her claims.”
“My new project is very different from the previous one. Instead of one author, I now look at corpus of circa 100 plays written about the patriarch Joseph in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But the central focus is still the concept of Latin literature itself. I want to understand how Latin dramas interact with theatre in other languages, and how the language is an integral part of how a drama functions and how a genre develops.”
“I think that the viewpoint for which RELICS stands can be of great value for the diachronic study of literature. We still have the habit of reading along national and linguistic lines, thereby cutting through generic and other ties. When we think of Latin as a shared language, however, and a literature implicated in vernacular literatures on symbolic, intertextual, and pragmatic levels, we can further deepen our understanding of the complexity of European literature and trace new lines that can help us make sense of the complexity.”