Rerouting the 'ridderroman'. Adaptation Strategies in the Poetics of the 14th-Century Middle Dutch Ridderroman

01 November 2020 → 31 December 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Literatures in Dutch
    • Medieval literature
    • Poetics
    • Literary history
Intertextuality Reception studies Material philology
Project description

The 14th-century is seen as a highlight for secular literature in large areas of Western Europe. In contrast, 14th-century Middle Dutch secular literature has been largely underexposed. Its main exponent, the verse romance or ridderroman, has consistently been depreciated by 19th- and 20th-century literary historians as derivative, a mixture of older romance motifs amplified into sometimes grotesque proportions: 'epic in decay'. Yet, this view mainly springs from 19th-century poetical notions fed by four centuries of printing history and romantic conceptions of originality. The idea that the 14th century is the end of Dutch romance evolution deviates from the international consensus on Western European romance, which sketches an evolution from the 12th to at least the 17th century. Until recently, for example, the survival of Dutch ridderromans in 15th- and 16th-century prose novels has not been adequately taken into account. To conceptualize the 14th-century ridderroman more accurately, we need to leave behind anachronistic poetical notions. Therefore, this study aims to construct a historically substantiated poetics of the 14th-century ridderroman in which adaptation strategies of amplification and amalgamation are given central focus. This will be done through an intra-textual analysis of the poetical markers and through a thorough review of the material and socio-cultural contexts of the corpus texts. The resulting, more representative conceptualization of the poetics of the corpus can then be contrasted with Middle Dutch and international romance evolution more accurately.