This is my body broken for thee. Early modern sacralization of literature, the case of Vondel's 'Altaergeheimenissen' and Huygens' 'Avondmaalsgedichten'

Start - End 
2011 - 2014 (completed)
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Additional tags 
Dutch literature



This project aims to trace the intrusion of concepts of the sacral within early modern poetics as it relates to the development of growing autonomy within the literary system. It will do so by means of an analysis of the intricate poetics of two instances of devotional poetry, namely: Joost van den Vondel’s Altaergeheimenissen and Constantijn Huygens’ Avondmaalsgedichten. I want to know (1) how the emergence of modern autonomous literature is shaped by the penetration of (sacramental) religious experience in the realm of the literary in the early modern period; (2) how this development relates to an evolution in the conceptualization of the role of the author. By relating the concept of the sacral as it emerges from two elaborate instances of religious poetry to the way in which their authors present themselves as authors, I aim to analyze what made possible a development that has been described as the sacralization of the author from the 17th century onwards. Furthermore my project is aimed at making a conceptual contribution to the methodology of career criticism by analyzing the extent to which these concepts of the sacral call for a different model than that which is typically put forward in career criticism, namely that of Virgil’s career.