In America the Sun of Salvation has risen, which will shine its rays upon us provided we so desire. Only America can revive our Trade and our Shipping…. America provides us again, if we dare look at it, a striking proof of how Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. America can teach us how to resist the degeneration of National Character, how to check the corruption of morals, how to prevent bribery, how to choke off the seeds of tyranny and restore moribund Liberty to health.
Post updated: Nov. 2021 (new reference added; and the original Dutch sermon is included below in full)
The quotation above is an English translation of a passage from François Adriaan van der Kemp’s prayer day sermon of 27 February 1782 (sermon 11 from Elftal Kerkelycke Redevoeringen [11 Sermons]). The original passage reads:
In America is de Heilzon opgedaegd, welke ons ook zal bestraelen, indien wy willen: America alleen kan onzen Koophandel, onze Zeevaert doen herleven: America kan onze Fabrieken op nieuw doen bloeijen, en ons LEYDEN herstellen in zynen voorigen luister. America levert ons op nieuw, indien wy ons zelven niet durven beschouwen, een spreekend bewys op, hoe de Gerechtigheid een Volk verhoogt en de Zonde de schandvlek is der Nation. America kan ons leeren, hoe de verbastering van het Volkscharacter tegen te gaen, het bederf der zeden te stuiten, de omkooping te weeren, de zaeden der dwingelandy te verslikken, en de zieltogende Vryheid in gezondheid te herstellen.
The title of this post is an allusion to Steven Nadler’s A Book Forged in Hell. That 2011 book is about Baruch Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, a work that scandalized secular and ecclesiastical authorities in the later 17th century — and has influenced philosophers and historians in recent years. The purpose of this post is to share a bibliography compiled by Piet Visser and his students in the 1990s. Piet retired in June 2014 from his professorship at the Mennonite seminary at the Free University in Amsterdam. Before that he was the chief curator of rare books and professor of book history at the University of Amsterdam. It’s in this earlier role that the list that you can find below originated.
Romeyn de Hooghe (1645-1708) is a major figure in the world of European art history in the era of the Dutch Golden Age. What’s more, he played a significant role in Anglo-Dutch politics around the time of the Glorious Revolution as a supporter of William of Orange / William III. He’s been the subject of a significant number of exhibitions and academic studies recently. For example, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has just finished an exhibit on “The Book Illustrations of Romeyn de Hooghe” (13 Sept. 2014 to 25 Jan. 2015). In this post I introduce an anonymous etching that I think might be by him (or maybe by his student Adriaan Schoonebeek).
Note: Since first publishing this post I have updated it a few times. One revision was from Feb. 8, and more thorough revisions are from Feb. 11 and 23. The main change in the most recent, thorough revisions is to downplay the importance of the 1660 edition of Hortensius.
Henri Krop’s paper at the Faultline 1700 conference discussed shifting conceptions of religion in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. His paper’s short title was “From Singular to Plural.” Inspired in part by his paper, I have tried out a new digital humanities tool from the DBNL, the online database for Dutch literature. The graph above shows the frequency across time of the keywords godsdienst (religion) in green and godsdiensten (religions) in blue. For more on the DBNL ngram viewer, see this video. I haven’t been able to figure out how to embed an active version of the tool in this blog. The data points on the graph are clickable, if you use it as intended at dbnl.org.
Het dient niet weinig ter opheldering der geschiedenissen, zo des Bibels als des Joodschen Volks, dat de Almachtige deszelvs bizondere Beschermgod en Regeerer waere; door het welk veele, anderzints onoplosselyke, zwarigheden, worden weggenomen. In dezen zin, te weten, met betrekking tot het Staetsbestuur, was het ook, by uitstekenheid, dat God aen Israël zyne rechten en instellingen bekend gemaekt had, het geen hy niet deed aen andere volken.
From 21-23 January I will be participating in a conference on the theme of “Enlightened Religion — From Confessional Churches to Polite Piety”. It will take place in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and it is part of the Faultline 1700 research project. Together with Jonathan Israel I will provide some closing thoughts at the end of the conference. In preparation for this privilege, I will provide a few ways of summarizing the conference proceedings — even before it begins. Read more →
For today (in Nov. 2014) I have a short observation that I might develop in the future. The post is about how digital tools for text analysis fit into the practice of historical research (the doing of history). Advanced students of history will be familiar with the “linguistic turn” of the late 20th century. This is the scholarly practice of analyzing how language shapes (our knowledge of) reality. Postmodern skepticism about objective historical knowledge is the best-known variant of this trend. However, it is not the only one. In recent decades many historians — not all (perhaps even few) of whom would accept the label of post-modernists — have paid increasing attention to literature and popular media as sources. One example is the British cultural analyst Raymond Williams, who, starting in the 1970s, outlined a program for the study of “keywords.” Voyant is a fabulous digital tool for the study of keywords.
Updated, Jan. 2023: For some background on the scholarship of keywords, see Raymond Williams’s excellent introduction to Keywords. Williams’s methodology is similar to the project of history of concepts (Begriffsgeschichte) pioneered in post-WWII West Germany. Keith Tribe has written a very helpful introduction to that scholarship, and readers interested in more might explore a book by one of the project’s main contributors: Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past.
To learn more about Voyant Tools, I recommend the book and accompanying website by Rockwell and Sinclair called Hermeneutica.
I have been experimenting with Yoyant Tools in my teaching (HIST 2F90 — about Atlantic world history — at BrockU) and in my research (this site). To help me analyze Dutch texts with Voyant, I built a Dutch stop words list that Stéfan Sinclair added to the Voyant Tools site online. The list includes early modern spelling variations. You can find the list on Academia.edu and in Voyant Tools itself (https://voyant-tools.org/). If you catch mistakes, please let me know.
NOTE (Feb. 2023): The links are now updated and should be working.
NOTE (Jan. 2023): This post requires updating and refreshing. It’s various parts do not work properly.
ORIGINAL POST: Under the “About” and “Themes” links for this Blog I outline a new research project that I am working on with Gary Waite and a team of other scholars to examine the nonconforming religious roots of early Enlightenment thought and social organization in London and Amsterdam from about 1580 until 1700. An aspect of this project is that we will examine the opponents of religious nonconformity and intellectual innovation. The short title for the project “Amsterdamnified!” This post is about the oldest source of this quirky term. I will use the source to highlight a promising digital tool.