Displays of Desire: Imagineering Consumption in Comedies of the Low Countries (1650-1725)

01 January 2023 → 31 December 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Early modern literature
    • Literatures in Dutch
    • Philosophy of mind
    • Theatre
economy desire consumption 17th century 18th century Low Countries comedy
Project description

Displays of Desire aims to gain insight into how early modern Dutch comedies represent the idea of consumption and desire through theatrical imagination. Doing so, the project not only highlights the importance of a neglected genre in Dutch literary historiography, but it also aims to contribute to scholarly fields that stress the importance of desire and imagination in early modern consumption culture, without, however, paying much attention to processes of cultural representation. Through the representation of recognizable social environments, comedies deliver information not only about possession and value assignment, but also about the moral, social and emotional dynamics of early modern consumption. Comedies do not only offer information about how desire itself is represented but also about how these desires stimulated the imagination of early modern consumers, who saw themselves represented on the stages of their cities. Through an analysis of a digitalized corpus of around 250 plays, the project will trace semantically related word fields in Dutch early modern comedies representing consumption behaviour and the desire to consume. A careful contextual reading of a small selection of plays will enable us to understand these textual characteristics in the light of their performance practices well as the broader cultural and intellectual context of early modern theatre.