Popularisation and media strategies (1700-1900)

Project duration: 2010-2014

This project analyses the process of selection and adaptation in Dutch popular literature during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Research for this project is centred on songs and catchpenny prints, which can be considered as the main mass media of the past. These genres incorporate three important components of popular culture: music, images and text. They also have strong affiliations to contemporary forms of popular culture, such as comic strips and popular music. Furthermore, these genres ensured that a large potential of stories, images, songs and melodies were being passed down from one generation to the next.

In this project we want to answer the question of how the process of selection and adaptation in songs and catchpenny prints interacted with the motives and strategies of producers, distributors and consumers. The hypothesis driving this exploration is that the Dutch popularisation process in this period, contrary to common notion, led to cultural convergence instead of cultural divergence. This convergence manifested itself, just as it does in our modern media society, on the levels of production and distribution, intermediality, reception, and appropriation.

The central question is addressed in two related subprojects:

  1. The first subproject (PhD) studies the motives and strategies of the producers and distributors of songs and catchpenny prints. Intermediality is approached here as a production strategy.
  2. The second subproject (Postdoc) focuses on the selection, adaptation, and intertextuality of the literary content of songs and catchpenny prints. Here intermediality is studied on the level of shared text, images, and music.

This project is part of the NWO program Cultural Dynamics. See more on the website of NWO.