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Freya Sierhuis studied at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Cambridge and obtained her PhD in 2009 at the European University Institute in Florence with a thesis on the literature of the Arminian controversy in the Dutch Republic. From 2009 until 2013 she held an Exzellenzinitiative Research Fellowship at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. She has published on various aspects of early modern English and Dutch literature, such as revenge tragedy, biblical drama and satire, as well as on the cultural history of the emotions.
Her book The Literature of The Arminian Controversy: Religion, Politics and the Stage (forthcoming with Oxford University Press) focuses on the turbulent dawn of Dutch Golden Age literature, when the debate over the theology of Arminius divided the Republic’s literary world, acting as a catalyst for literary and cultural change and innovation. The book traces the impact of disputed ideas on grace and predestination in satirical literature, poetry and plays, and analyses the theological and political works of the period as literature, focussing on the rhetoric, tropes and metaphors of politico-religious controversy. Taking into account a wide array of sources, ranging from theological treatises to broadsides and libel poetry, it offers a deeper contextualisation of some of the most canonical works of the period, such as the writings of Grotius, Coornhert, and Joost van den Vondel, the Republic’s greatest tragic poet, and reconsiders the relationship between literature and intellectual history.
Freya’s research ranges broadly within the literature of England and the Dutch Republic in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. She is interested in the intellectual and religious history of the period, particularly the literary culture of Calvinism and the legacy of the Radical Reformation, as well as the psychology, philosophy and literary representations of the passions, and the idea and praxis of friendship in early modern literary culture. Her current project is a monograph study of the work of Fulke Greville (1554-1628) one of the few remaining undiscovered treasures of late Elizabethan and Stuart literature, comprising a set of philosophical treatises on topics such as politics, religion and science, two tragedies, a biography of Sir Philip Sidney and a sonnet sequence that includes some of the most powerful erotic and religious lyric of the period. Together with Brian Cummings, she is preparing an edition of Greville’s philosophical poems for the new Oxford Clarendon edition of The Complete Works of Fulke Greville.
She welcomes dissertation proposals on English literature, politics and religion in the period 1500-1700, Anglo-Dutch intellectual and literary exchanges, and the history of the emotions in literature.