Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
Men of letters aims at investigating the emergence and evolution of the intellectual tradition in Dutch writings of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, in order to come to a historical understanding of the cultural changes that influenced, but also came out of, the transmission of learning from the professional spheres of an ecclesiastical and academic elite to the wider audience that could be reached through vernacular literature. By focusing on sudden interests in religious, ethical and philosophical thinking as well as on the social positions of the authors involved, the research project will demonstrate how Dutch literature became a new platform for public debate, opinion making and the exchange of ideas. Research into the intellectual inspiration of vernacular writing in this period &8211; for instance through the analysis of new genres and models of discourse, like allegory, disputation, sermons, treatises and exegetical commentaries &8211; will lead to a reassessment of the history of Dutch medieval literature. In the past scholarly research has separated the wide corpus of devotional writing from the secular spheres of literature. The approach of Men of letters aims at en integration, bringing to light the crucial importance of the powerful religious tradition within the larger realm of medieval textual culture. By describing and analysing the Dutch case, the project will contribute to wider discussions in the field of medieval studies on the relations of vernacular literature and learning.