Cultural Hybridity Reconsidered: Religious Visual Culture and the Dutch Republic


  • Els Stronks


Cultural Hybridity, Dutch Republic, Dutch Religious Literature, Early Modern Visual Culture


This article engages with the overriding tendency to see cultural hybridity as a progressive force in the Dutch Republic, focusing on the case of Dutch religious literature. It is a puzzling fact that in the literary realm, processes of cultural hybridity were put on hold between 1560 and 1680. In this area of cultural activity impermeable barriers between Catholic visual practices and Protestant textual traditions caused religious books to be virtually imageless. Given our current understanding of cultural hybridity and of seventeenth-century Dutch culture, why was the intermingling of textual and visual practices so unexpectedly complicated, especially in comparison to neighbouring countries where hybrid religious literary cultures emerged in spite of restrictive mechanisms such as censorship and legislation? How does the reluctance in the literary sphere relate to other cultural domains in the Dutch Republic, and to the tendency to see the Dutch Republic’s culture as a historical model of cultural hybridity?

Author Biography

Els Stronks

Els Stronks is Professor of Dutch Literature and Culture at Utrecht University where she teaches seventeenth-century Dutch literature. She previously taught at Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) and is the author of several articles and books, including her recent book on visual culture in Dutch literature, Negotiating Differences; Word, Image and Religion. She has led the Emblem Project Utrecht (EPU) and the Pia Desideria Project, which aimed to digitise and analyse Dutch love emblem books, religious as well as secular, published between 1601 and 1724. She is also a member of the Dutch Songs On Line project, and the Annotated Book On Line project. She has written a number of articles on the technical approaches used in these digitisation projects, particularly concerning their overarching research questions and goals for the field of early modern studies.




How to Cite

Stronks, E. (2012). Cultural Hybridity Reconsidered: Religious Visual Culture and the Dutch Republic. Journal of Dutch Literature, 3(2). Retrieved from