Thomas Velle

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Postdoctoral fellow FWO
Ghent University

Thomas Velle is a PhD at the Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University, engaged in the fields of Neo-Latin and comparative literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He is particularly interested in travel literature and the epigram genre, studied from a European perspective.

“In May 2018, I have finished my pre-doctoral project, funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) on the Danish-Norwegian author Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754). Holberg is traditionally considered to be both ‘the Father of Danish literature’ and one of the last standard bearers of Latin literature, writing amongst others his autobiography and a novel in Latin. The dissertation “Ludvig Holberg’s Mobile Novel Niels Klim’s Travels Underground (1741-1745), A Functionalistic Approach to its Place in European Literary History” studies Holberg’s best-selling novel from a European perspective and tries to reinterpret Holberg’s style and publication strategies as a way for Holberg to find his voice in the increasingly multilingual literary environment of Europe. From October 2018 onwards, I work on my postdoctoral project “The Republic of Epigrams. The Latin Epigram and the Multilingual Self in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe”, also funded by FWO.

“The example of Holberg has led me to broader questions on Latin literature, its constant dialogues with vernacular literatures, the European identity and the role of translation in the circulation of texts and the development of genres and styles throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Neo-Latin literature is often studied as a monolith, magically developing in closed communities of Latin writers and readers. However, in the Early Modern period especially, the production and consumption of literature can hardly be separated from those of vernacular languages. Latin authors in this period, such as Holberg, were per definition multilingual and this has its consequences for their way of writing or thinking, and should be reflected in the study of Neo-Latin literature as a more fundamental precondition. RELICS’s aim to cross the borders between different literatures is therefor more than valuable.”