PhD ceremony: Mr. J.J.M. Vandommele, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Dissertation: Als in een spiegel. Vrede, kennis en gemeenschap op het Antwerpse landjuweel van 1561
Promotor(s): prof. B.A.M. Ramakers
Can art and literature help establish peace and harmony in the world? How can mankind come to true self-development? What kind of knowledge leads to a useful as well as a virtuous life? What is the best way to serve the urban community? These questions were the main topics of the Antwerp Landjuweel of 1561, the largest rhetorician contest of the sixteenth century. Chambers of rhetoric from all over the duchy of Brabant travelled to Antwerp to join in the festivities and battle each other in a range of different literary categories. The PhD-research of Jeroen Vandommele examines the Landjuweel as one of the most important manifestations of the cultural and intellectual self-awareness of the rhetoricians. It defines the festival as a public forum for the exchange of knowledge and opinions about a plethora of subjects that, at that time, occupied the minds of educated citizens. The debate held in the various Landjuweel contributions concerning the concepts of peace, knowledge and community is situated within the cultural and literary context of the rhetoricians’ culture. The first section of the PhD is dedicated to peace. The rhetoricians asserted that their art of rhetoric could establish a harmonious universe. The second part of the dissertation analyses the debate held regarding the importance of 'conste', meaning knowledge in general, and the seven liberal arts in particular. The chambers of rhetoric claimed that the gathering of knowledge was important, since it would lead to a virtuous life in the service of urban society. The third and final part of the PhD is dedicated to the concept of community. Here, the rhetoricians' vision regarding the relation between individuality and collectivity is examined. In conclusion, it is posed that the rhetoricians thought of their theatre as a metaphor for life and, thus, relevant to every human being. Their performances reflected their view of the world. The audience, who looked into such a mirror, received the option of comparing their world view with the mirror's and (re)shape it to its example.
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