“Reading” Early Modern Dutch Texts with Voyant Tools: Examples from Three Revolutionary-Era Mennonite Sermons

“Reading” Early Modern Dutch Texts with Voyant Tools: Examples from Three Revolutionary-Era Mennonite Sermons


The Bigger Purposes of This Post Are Three-Fold:

  1. to promote digital text analysis as a complement to traditional techniques of close reading, and Voyant Tools as a first-choice for digital analysis programs;
  2. to advertise my Dutch stop-words list (available in Voyant Tools and in Academia.edu); and
  3. to give some background about the career and ideas of the unconventional Dutch Mennonite preacher and revolutionary-era activist — François Adriaan (Francis Adrian) van der Kemp.

In this post I have several interactive windows from Voyant Tools. The text-combination I use in each Voyant window includes 3 sermons from the anti-Orange activist and Dutch Patriot Movement leader François Adriaan van der Kemp. Each sermon is from Elftal Kerkelyke Redevoeringen [11 Sermons]. In 1782, when he published the collection, van der Kemp was the preacher of the Doopsgezind (also known in English as “Mennonite”) congregation in Leiden. The sermons were presented at several Doopsgezind congregations in the Dutch Republic. The stop-word list helps make the Voyant analysis manageable and productive.

NOTE: This post is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer, not a phone or smaller tablet.

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“The Ghost of Menno Simons”: 18th-century trolling?

“The Ghost of Menno Simons”: 18th-century trolling?

For a little fun on Hallowe’en 2021, this post provides highlights from a short, 8-page pamphlet written in the voice of a ghostly Menno Simons. The Dutch-language pamphlet is anonymous and undated, but it from the early 1780s. This was the era of the Patriot Movement against Orange family rule in the Dutch Republic. One of the leading national organizers of the Movement was the Mennonite preacher in Leiden, François Adriaan van der Kemp. The anonymous author of the pamphlet uses the voice of Ghost Menno to wag a finger at Van der Kemp and his ilk. In 2020s terms, the author seems to be “trolling” democratically oriented, anti-Orange, Dutch Mennonites of the 1780s.

You can read more about Van der Kemp at this website (https://dutchdissenters.net/wp/2015/03/quotation-kemp-1782/, and https://dutchdissenters.net/wp/2019/03/francois-adriaan-van-der-kemp/).

Post updated: 2 Nov. 2021 (see text that follows the image of the title page below)

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Norman Cohn’s Divergent Legacies: A Presentation on YouTube

On the 23rd of June, 2020, I gave a paper via remote link to an audience at the Europa Universität in Frankfurt / Oder. The talk is entitled:

Reflections on The Pursuit of the Millennium, Europe’s Inner Demons, and The War on Heresy: Six-Word Arguments to Highlight Norman Cohn’s Divergent Legacies. (The orange text is important when you peruse the Prezi frames.)

I used the Prezi below in the presentation. You can explore it on your own by going to https://prezi.com/raocgxnxjxkv/. There are many frames that I did not discuss in detail.

If you would like to read my presentation, you can find it by opening the rest of this post.

UPDATE from 27 May 2021: I have changed the title of this post (although the URL remains the same). The original post indicated that the YouTube video and other parts of the post were related to a June 2020 presentation (Vortrag) I was making at the Europa-Universität in Germany.

UPDATE from 24 June 2020: I have put the recording of my presentation on YouTube. The text below is a close but not exact transcript of the presentation.

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Jacob Aertsz Colom, Dutch Mennonite Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the 17th Century

Jacob Aertsz Colom, Dutch Mennonite Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the 17th Century

The text below dates from 2013. It is the previous unpublished version of a paper I presented at the annual meeting of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the moment there are no notes with the text. I plan to update the text to include at least a bibliography. The title of the paper I presented in San Juan is “Mennonite Printers, Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the Netherlands.” Except for updating the title for this post, I have only edited the text of the 2013 paper very lightly.

Part of the reason for publishing the 2013 paper as a blog post now is that my grad student, Brookelnn Cooper, is finishing off her MA research paper, and she is making the case for Colom as the printer / publisher of Menno Simons’ Blasphemy. For more about the Blasphemy, see my post about it here.

Image details coming soon…

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Executed today: 4 June 1535

Inspired by the Twitter hashtags #executedtoday and #onthisday, I have been looking through the Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (gameo.org) from time to time. Today I came across this note in the GAMEO article by Irwin Horst on “England”:

The first Anabaptists in England, according to various polemical treatments written in the 17th century and later, came from Holland subsequent to the seditious uprising at Amsterdam on 10 May 1535 (A Short History of the Anabaptists, 1642, 48). The source of this information is Lambertus Hortensius, a Dutch ecclesiastic and chronicler, who lived contemporary with the events and whose Tumultuum Anabaptisticarum was first printed at Basel in 1548, but he nowhere holds that these Anabaptists were the original ones in England. The 25 Dutch Anabaptists arrested and brought to trial at St. Paul’s on 25 May 1535, 14 of whom were condemned and burned at London and other English towns on 4 June 1535, may have been members of the party mentioned by Hortensius.

I am noting Horst’s work here so I can find it again on a rainy day and look into this further. Please let me know if you know anything more about the early history of English “Anabaptism”.

A “new” etching by Romeyn de Hooghe? Updated and revised post


Cover of a 2008 catalog that accompanied an exhibit in 2008-9 at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. The translation of the catalog title is “Romeyn de Hooghe: the late Golden Age brought to life.”

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.

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