February 21 2016: Frank Willaert – Song Culture in Medieval Bruges

Song Culture in Medieval Bruges

Sunday Feb. 21 in 223 Moses Hall 3-4PM
Will be followed by a reception

Frank Willaert
University of Antwerp

At the end of the fourteenth century, Bruges was on the brink of its Golden Age. The Flemish city had digested the injuries  it had suffered during the Ghent war (1379-85), and was soon to flourish as an international market and port, as a foothold for Burgundian power, as a residence for wealthy courtiers, bankers, traders  and entrepreneurs, and as the place to be for luxury artisans and ambitious artists of all kinds. As the “cradle of capitalism” (James Murray), it welcomed merchants and their products from all over Europe, and as a centre of the arts, it combined international influences with local traditions. In this presentation we will have a look at the song culture such as it was cultivated in the churches, palaces and pubs of Bruges in the decades around 1400. Polyphonic music was thriving in Latin, in French as well as in Dutch. Much of our attention however will be devoted to the Gruuthuse  manuscript (c. 1400), the most important collection of secular monophonic songs in medieval Dutch literature. The songs in this manuscript are the result of a unique combination of local and international influences, that give them an exceptional position in the history of European literature.

This event is co-organized by the Netherlands-America University League, the Dutch Studies Program and the IES Benelux Program.

Frank Willaert is Professor of Dutch literature at the University of Antwerp and holder of this year’s P.P. Rubens Chair at UC Berkeley. He publishes mainly about medieval mystical literature and about medieval love poetry. Among his recent publications are an award winning edition of the Songs of Hadewijch (2010) and the edition of two collections of essays on the Bruges Gruuthuse manuscript (2010 and 2015). An edition of Hadewijch’s Visions and a history of Dutch lyrical poetry of the Middle Ages are in preparation.

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