Uncovering Joyful Culture: Parodic Literature and Practices in and around the Low Countries (13th-17th centuries)


This project will demonstrate the importance of 'joyful culture' as a major cultural phenomenon in late medieval and early modern society. Joyful culture can be defined as a shared system of sociability for groups and individuals organising playful performances and activities in a ritualised way, in which parody has a central role. Building on the example of the Low Countries, the project will offer a comparative, transnational approach, in order to show how joyful culture helped to bind together various social groups in pre-seventeenth-century society, and how parody was used to reinforce group identity and the sense of belonging to a community, whether at the scale of a regional political entity, a city, or a professional group.
Rather than insisting on the potential of carnivalesque festivities to express tensions and social conflicts, as historians have often claimed, this project will demonstrate that joyful culture also had an important role in securing social stability and cohesion, thanks to the use of an inclusive form of parody, developed in themes such as friendship, the praise of drunkenness, sexuality and obscenity. This project will thereby refresh the broader field of cultural studies, by re-evaluating concepts of the festive.

Three aspects will be studied to delineate the reach and significance of this festive culture, through an evaluation of its productions and the role they played in society. To do so, a range of literary texts, products and artefacts will be contextualised with archival material. The production and use of these sources will be investigated through the study of:
- joyful sociability as a medium enhancing a common cultural identity (main applicant);
- parodic notarial writing as a tool for the education of youth (post-doc);
- the circulation of the multilingual literary genre of the joyful summons as a transnational vehicle for joyful culture (PhD)..


Hoofdstuk in boek

  • T. Debbagi Baranova, N. Szczech, M. Bouhaïk-Gironès, K. Lavéant(2016): Usages et stratégies polémiques en Europe (XIVe-premier XVIIe siecles) pp. 89 - 104
  • B. Ramakers, W. Melion, K. Lavéant(2016): Personification - Embodying Meaning and Emotion pp. 211 - 233 , Leiden

Wetenschappelijk artikel

Professionele publicatie






Dr. K.V.M.P. Lavéant

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Letteren


Dr. K.V.M.P. Lavéant, Drs. C.V. de Morreé, Dr. C.V. de Morrée, R.M. Versendaal MA


01/11/2015 tot 31/10/2020