Research team

Expertise

My expertise lies in the field of mediëval and earl-modern spiritual literature in The Low Countries. I have published studies and critical editions of spiritual literature both in Middle Dutch and Latin.

The theme of deification in the Middle Dutch works of the understudied authors in Groenendaal: Jan van Leeuwen, Willem Jordaens and Godfried Wevel. Was Groenendaal a 'textual community' or an 'authorial community of practice'? 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

In the 14th century, the community of Groenendaal, in the Sonian Forest outside Brussels, was home not only to its much-studied first prior, the famous mystical author Jan van Ruusbroec (1293-1381), but also to three lesser-known, understudied Middle Dutch mystical authors: Jan van Leeuwen (d. 1378), Willem Jordaens (d. 1372), and Godfried Wevel (d. 1396). Groenendaal thus constitutes a unique hotspot in Middle Dutch mystical literature, with four contemporaneous vernacular mystical authors writing in the same place at the same time. The (inter)relationships between these authors texts have never been thoroughly researched, and the type of "authorial community" they formed is therefore unknown. Were they a "textual community", as authors whose ideas were shaped and expressed in a dependent, vertical relation to Ruusbroec's writing, or were they an "authorial community of practice", an interrelated, transversal network of authors between whom horizontal learning occurred and who did not necessarily share consensus? To operationalize, test, and evaluate this question, the project focuses on the case study of deification, since this constitutes the thematic 'crux' of Ruusbroec's works. Investigating this case study will determine whether and to what extent the little-known Middle Dutch authors from Groenendaal shared this central theme with Ruusbroec and how it is articulated in and across their works, shedding new light on vertical and/or horizontal learning at Groenendaal. By means of a mixed methodology combining elements of traditional philology with Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis, the project will first identify the typology of deification in each author's individual works and oeuvre. It will then conduct comparative analysis between all four Middle Dutch mystical authors from Groenendaal and visualize the degree to which they exhibit consensus and/or dissent in their semantic and conceptual articulations of the theme in question. The results of this research will enable us to challenge the enduring perception of Jan van Leeuwen, Willem Jordaens, and Godfried Wevel as Ruusbroec's (literary) subordinates who were not transversely (inter)related with one another. The research thus breaks new ground in several fields, namely the study of the history of vernacular mystical literature in the Low Countries, horizontal learning in late medieval (monastic) communities, the three specific authors in question, and the field of deification studies.

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  • Research Project

'Authorship', composition and textual interconnectedness of three 16th-century mystical texts. Die evangelische peerle, Vanden tempel onser sielen, and the Arnhem mystical sermons. A stylometric approach. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

The aim of this project is to merge traditional methods of literary analysis with those of stylometry to provide tools to translate nuanced perceptions into verifiable observations. The study of the particular case of Arnhem mystical texts has a double objective: (1) to gain a deeper understanding in the textual culture and the interconnectedness of original texts of the Arnhem mystics; (2) to further the effectiveness, applicability and acceptability in literary studies of the combineds method of close reading and computational techniques.

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  • Research Project

MITT - Mobility of Ideas and Transmission of Texts Vernacular Literature and Learning in the Rhineland and the Low Countries (ca.1300-1550). 01/09/2009 - 31/08/2013

Abstract

"Mobility of Ideas and Transmission of Texts" (MITT) is a research training programme (2009-2013) that studies the medieval transmission of learning from the ecclesiastical and academic elites of the professional intellectuals to the wider readership that could be reached through the vernacular. The programme focuses on the medieval dynamics of intellectual life in the Rhineland and the Low Countries, nowadays divided over five countries (Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands) but one cultural region in the later Middle Ages. Here, the great fourteenthcentury mystics Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, Jan van Ruusbroec and their contemporaries produced a sophisticated vernacular literature on contemplative theology and religious practice, introducing new lay audiences to a personal relation with the Supreme Being. The project seeks to develop a new perspective on this literary culture by looking at the readership, appropriation and circulation of texts in the contemporary religious and intellectual contexts.

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  • Research Project

History of spirituality in The Netherlands. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

1 Sixteenth-Century Mystical Renaissance. The sixteenth-century Mystical Renaissance in the Low Countries and the neighbouring Rhineland, the centres of which were the St.-Agnesconvent in Arnhem and the Cologne St.-Barbara charterhouse 2 Monastic Culture in the Bois de Soignes Intellectual and spiritual culture in the southern Low Countries at the end of the fifteenth century and in the sixteenth century: Latin devotional literature from the Bois de Soignes between mediaeval heritage and humanist renewal.

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  • Research Project