Category Archives: 2017


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Between taboo and tolerance
30 years of AIDS commemoration in the Netherlands
The article deals with the commemoration of AIDS during the last three decades in the Netherlands. It focuses on AIDS Memorial Quilts and the rituals related to them. The quilts were made to fight intolerance against AIDS and homosexuality and to shape a commemoration community. The successful control of the epidemic and the increase of tolerance led to a change from grief over the AIDS victims to the celebration of life. The quilts have lost their function. They are now given to several museums to represent the history of AIDS, AIDS commemoration and tolerance towards homosexuals in the Netherlands. The article raises the question in how far AIDS commemoration is related to nationalism in the Netherlands and images about ‘Dutchness’.

Everyday Humour in the Initial Years of the Dutch Revolt
In the opening years of the Dutch Revolt, in the 1560s and early 1570s circulating oral humour was a symbolic means to negotiate political norm changes. This kind humour created a Lachgemeinschaft, a laughing community among the Dutch people. Their laughter was based on the well-known traditions of joyfulness
on the ice and carnival upheaval as well as jokes on swaggering soldiers and impertinent artisans. The future was uncertain and carnivalesque symbols, jokes and travesties creating temporary powers were a boisterous means to test the rules of authority. But, this also caused friction and created particular laughing communities, for instance those of the gueux or beggars, the noblemen who in 1566 disputed with the governor general concerning the relaxation of the edicts on religious tolerance. Nevertheless, carnival humour was paramount and allowed for a playful investigation of temporary authority as a way to deal with uncertain political roads to take. Flemish drunkenness and jokes on a peasant farting in front of emperor Charles V were the illustrations of this comic worldview among the Dutch population, whatever their actual appreciation of the course of events. In the course of the 1570s, however, continued fighting and comic propaganda stirring up hate of the enemy prevailed and the Lachgemeinschaft of the Netherlanders fragmented and broke down.

Category: 2017, Summaries


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“The White Wrap Speaks For Itself”
Dynamics and Prescriptive Order in the Traditional Dress of Staphorst, c. 1950-2017
It is not for the first time that the people of the village of Staphorst in The Netherlands make out the subject of an article in Volkskunde. In 2017 a substantial but slowly diminishing number of women still wears the lo¬cal traditional costume every day. The costume tells us, among other things, whether they mourn about a beloved person or an acquaintance. The unwritten rules how to mourn help these women to cope with the situation in a manner they know well. On the one hand the mourning dress imposes a straight jacket. Their so¬cial network appears a factor not to be missed. One’s clothes are a major preoccupation, but many people seem even more preoccupied with someone else’s costume. Despite the rules, one has a certain freedom to apply them to one’s own ideas. This article de¬scribes how the rules are becoming clearer when not followed correctly. Many examples from everyday life in Staphorst, starting from a period of preparation before a burial to the mourning period thereafter, makes clear that there is a layered set of rules for mourning. One may shorten the period of mourning, or alleviate the rules themselves. A mourning dress may also be chosen based on social or religious needs. No need to say that a creative use of rules is talked about in
the village, even if one doesn’t strictly apply the rules, for instance because of a lack of a group to provide social feedback. The women wearing a tra¬ditional costume will often be the last and only members of their fam¬ily adhering to this habit. There are no mothers and daughters to correct them.
In this way, this article introduces the reader to a group that seems to stick to common ways of coping with be-reavements within their way of cloth¬ing. However, their regional and reli¬giously inspired rules give the women of Staphorst a certain freedom to cope with a situation in their own way. This article thus provides a fascinating in-sight into the mentality of a Dutch re¬gion, and into the implications of this mentality in clothing.

Folklore and Medicine
A 19th Century Struggle Against Superstition
In the late eighteenth and early nine¬teenth century folklorist research became popular throughout Europe. The research purposes varied widely. Whereas in Germany folklore was mostly used to revive and conserve folk culture, its foremost purpose in the Netherlands was to repel superstition. This article focuses on an enquiry into superstition conducted by J.C. de Man, a doctor from the province of Zeeland.

De Man sent out letters containing several questions regarding supersti¬tious beliefs to several correspondents in Zeeland. Although his resentment against superstition is clear, De Man never specified the specific purpose of his research. The only remain¬ing results are two lectures about divination in Zeeland. The study of these documents and two additional lectures from De Man on medieval diseases and demographics in combi¬nation with the remaining correspon¬dence from the inquiry have allowed me to look into De Man’s motivation for his inquiry, as well as his inspira¬tion. One of his correspondents, J.P. Snoep, had been participant in a prior inqui¬ry of the Nederlandsche Maatschap¬pij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst (NMG) into superstition. As De Man was in the same medical association as Snoep, he must have known about the inquiry and it is therefore very likely that it must have been a ma¬jor source of inspiration. It becomes clear from his lectures that De Man sees superstition as a threat to medi¬cal progress and success. As a doctor he experienced the devastating effects of epidemics in Zeeland, which must have motivated him to take proactive measures in any relevant field. Conse¬quently, De Man’s inquiry should be seen as a survey of the threat towards medical progression, the threat being superstitious beliefs.

Category: 2017, Summaries


Fantastical Stories in Plural:
or, The Reach of Giants
Historical narrative research is increasingly facilitated by internet sources, especially in the Netherlands where a service like Delpher (a combination of “delver” = miner, and “Delphi” = the oracle) provides access to millions of pages from historical newspapers, journals and books; the latter also includes the dbnl (digital library for Dutch literature). With all these newly accessible texts, attention to contexts tends to suffer. While this introduction merely mentions issues like literacy and multilingualism, it explores stories about giants (very tall human-like beings) in some detail. It concludes that they were mentioned in the Bible and chronicles, thus belonging to the category of belief, but also the subject of hyperbole, particularly in relation to the creation of the landscape. Stories about giants were situated between “belief” and “jest”. In the course of the eighteenth century, and for some as yet unknown reasons in the Northern rather than the Southern Netherlands, the balance between the two shifted towards “jest”. It is suggested that this field of cultural tension may also provide one of the contexts in which to understand the issues which are subject to the other contributions to this volume.

An unlikely story:
The Latin ‘fairy’ tales of a medieval Cistercian
Throughout literary history, fairy tale-like stories have frequently met with resistance from critics who deemed their playful disregard of historical-empirical realism unfit for more “enlightened” readers. Meanwhile, authors of such stories have often anticipated and responded to this line of criticism in their writings so as to vindicate them(selves). The present contribution discusses the particular case of the Latin framed tale compilation Dolopathos, sive de rege et septem sapientum (Dolopathos, or the King and the Seven Sages, 1184-1212), written by the Cistercian monk John of Alta Silva. Among its embedded exempla, it also features a marvellous story about supernaturally descended children who are victimised by their wicked grandmother and transformed into swans. Through a multi-layered analysis of this story, its encompassing frame narrative and the pro- and epilogue that accompany the entire work, this article aims to shed light on the sorts of methods writers such as John have relied on to imbue their creations with an aura of truthfulness and put them to a specific use, in this case of a religious-monastic nature. These include the introduction of morally exemplary elements to a given story, the fictional dramatization of that story’s truthfulness in the specific context of its frame tale, and direct interpretative and literary-theoretical reflections by the narrator/author – all of them methods that would be employed again by fairy-tale authors in centuries to come.

Flying Carpets in the Arabian Nights:
Disney, Dyâb … and d’Aulnoy?
In May 1709, 19-year old Hanna Dyâb told Antoine Galland a lengthy story about Prince Ahmed and Pari Banou, which Galland subsequently took into the final volume of his Mille et Une Nuits (1704-1717). It was a straightforward fairyland fiction that played out in two worlds, one Pari Banou’s enchanted subterranean world, the other the ordinary world of Prince Ahmed, his two brothers, and their father. The first half of the tale, which involves competition for a bride, is resolved amicably when the three brothers cooperate to heal their cousin. Three magic objects are involved: a telescope, a flying carpet, and a healing apple.
Hanna Dyâb’s flying carpet, like “Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Pari Banou” as a whole, has no antecedent in Arabic narrative tradition. It seems to have been Dyâb’s own invention. That is the first surprising conclusion. The second, however, has to do with the imaginary from which a flying carpet may have emerged. Since “Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Pari Banou” is so heavily dependent for its plot and motifs on a tale by Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy published in the 1690s, it is reasonable to further examine her oeuvre for motivic antecedents for a flying carpet. Such an examination, in fact, brings to light a likely crossover point for Dyâb’s culturally and literarily consequential creation of a flying carpet, in addition to his utilization of a full thirteen plot and motif links binding “Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Pari Banou” to “La Chatte blanche.” This article confirms and extends a line of inquiry into Western and European contributions to the Eastern Arabian Nights.

Telling through your teeth:
(re-)oralisation of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature
One of the bones of contention of present-day folktale research concerns the relation between the written and oral tradition of stories. Especially the “fairy tale” genre, however, provides many examples of written or printed versions which preceded the oral tradition and may well have initiated it. The question posed in this contribution is whether this also applies to other narrative genres such as the joke, the anecdote or the legend. The digitalisation of Dutch books and journals provides rich material for a fruitful exchange between proponents of oral and printed transmission. Seventeenth-and eighteenth-century examples of anecdotes are discussed that in the nineteenth century were deemed to be oral but, in a number of cases clearly derived from earlier printed versions. Could they have been based on older oral versions? Here examples are discussed of ATU 750B, ATU 1527A, ATU 1735, ATU 1293 and ATU 1837.

Dutch newspapers (1850-1950) as legend medium
The study of newspaper legends emerged as a vital research topic in the nineteen fifties and has so far focused on the past half century. The present study explores the potential of digitized newspaper archives to analyze the discursive construction of newspaper legends in Dutch dailies during the years 1850-1950. Emic concepts of Dutch journalists are contextualized in shifts regarding content, genre and work routines of the Dutch daily press. During this period, the most frequently used label for traditional stories of uncertain veracity was zeeslang, i.e. sea serpent. These stories were said to be particularly frequent during the slow news season in summer, the so-called komkommertijd (lit. ‘cucumber time’). Identifying and condemning these stories as false or unreliable served the rhetorical function of bolstering the journalists’ ethos as a credible professional. Discussing sea serpent and cucumber stories, journalists demarcated their routines and output from those of less professional news purveyors (Gieryn’s ‘boundary work’). The most commonly named scapegoat were allegedly money-driven American journalistic practices.

The lover as witch:
A different look at Dutch-language migratory legends on witchcraft
Migratory legends about witches are usually catalogued according to their magical content. In the Low Countries, however, over a hundred of those legends, classified as different “types”, contain the same warning: “do not marry a witch”. This contribution relates the difficulties of finding the relevant texts of the legend “the lover as witch” through ostensibly similar ways of categorising. As far as can be gathered from Scottish and Scandinavian catalogues of migratory legends, this particular theme is unknown beyond the Low Countries. Only in collections from western Germany a few examples have been found. This relativises the migratory in the migratory legend. It also calls for a reconsideration of the way witchcraft legends are classified, especially if they are to be integrated into a broader historical study about the witchcraft discourse. The last sections discusses how the narrative could be used in the way marriages were restricted, as well as the occurrence of the legend in comparison to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspaper reports.

Category: 2017, Summaries