Dr Martine Veldhuizen

Postdoctoral Fellow

Sep 2016 - Nov 2016

Home institution - Utrecht University



Dr Martine Veldhuizen is a cultural and literary historian. She is fascinated by the ‘power of words’ and has published on perceptions of speech in the Low Countries in European context from a legal, ecclesiastical and secular-ethical perspective (1300-1550). Her PhD-project at Utrecht University has resulted in a monograph (Verloren 2014) which will also be published in an English translation (Brepols 2016). She taught on various subjects of cultural history, language and literature at Utrecht University, UCLA, William & Mary College, University of Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen. Martine was recentlty awarded the Gerard Brom CRM Humanities Grant and the Fonds Doctor Catharine van Tussenbroek grant to conduct research at The Huntington Library in San Marino California. She now holds a grant (a ‘Veni’) of the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research on The Mentality behind Subversive Speech Behaviour in Narratives in the First Printed books in Dutch (1450-1500).


In January 2016, almost a thousand people signed a petition, urging the Edinburgh University Students' Union to ‘reinstate free speech’ on campus after a sequence of prohibitions. The media presented instigator Charlie Peters as a truth-teller, who vocally criticizes authorities, tells them ‘the’ truth and risks retribution (cf. Foucault). My research proposal will put this event in its historical Western European context by investigating truth-telling figures in narratives that appeared in the first printed books (1450-1500). These narratives constituted a risk-free space for testing and considering ways of behaviour in urban late medieval society. Although freedom of speech, ‘the right to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction’, was not a fundamental right in the late Middle Ages, verbal expressions of critical opinions towards power were pervasive in the Low Countries and throughout Europe – an urban ‘culture of subversive speech’. The IASH fellowship will enable me to write a peer-reviewed journal article on the first Dutch translation of the famous book by Flavius Josephus, De bello Judaico. This pilot is part of a larger project in which I focus on truth-tellers in narratives in the first printed books between 1450-1500 in Dutch.