Screaming, Hushing, Singing, Fumbling. Lyricization of Dutch and Flemish Prose in the Long Sixties (1960-1975)

Schreeuwend, zwijgend, zingend, tastend. Lyricisering van Nederlandstalig proza in de lange jaren zestig (1960-1975)
Start - End 
2016 - 2020 (ongoing)
Department of Literary Studies
Research Focus 



This project examines the functions of lyrical traits that are intensified in Dutch and Flemish prose between 1955 and 1975. After a period of post-war reconstruction, the sixties mark an era of conflict in which conventional boundaries are explored, defied and displaced. Accordingly, many literary works of that period are characterised by the common denominator anti-authoritarianism (Brems 2006, 254). In that context, authors problematize the core features of the dominant (i.e. authoritative) genre, namely prose. They undermine conventional features by discussing taboo themes and disrupting narrativity and fictionality. With the aim of denarrativisation, authors of prose amplify qualities that are often found in poetry: they strengthen the musical quality of the text, the focus on the subjectivity of the speaker or the metaphorical language.

Conventionally, these features are attributed to poetry, but not all poetry foregrounds these traits, and they often occur in different genres. In the terminology I propose, these traits are part of a lyrical mode. I conceptualize lyricality as a mode of the same order as ‘narrativity’ (Phelan 2007): both lyricality and narrativity are dynamic sets of traits that can occur in different genres and can be realized in different ways. 

The amplification of lyrical traits in prose (i.e. the lyricisation of prose) might break conventional boundaries, the will to revolt ('anti-authoritarianism') does not necessarily drive this innovation. Lyrical traits can be intensified in an effort to join (or be associated with) international (neo-)avant-gardist experiments in other literatures or disciplines. The experiments of the Low Countries are in constant dialogue surrealism, the nouveau roman, abstract visual art, etc. 

The lyricisation of prose has many functions. Different text intensify different lyrical traits, evoking disparate readings, diverse narratological challenges and idiosyncratic world views. Acknowledging lyrical traits as signifying elements in prose, this project provides a framework that pinpoints the affinity between the diverse texts of lyrical prose in the Dutch and Flemish literary production of the long sixties. 



Phd Student(s)