Dr. J.F. (Jan Frans) van Dijkhuizen

  • Lecturer
  • Post-doctoral researcher
  • English language and culture

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2147
E-Mail: j.f.van.dijkhuizen@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Centre for the Arts in Society, Oude Britse letterkunde
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
P.N. van Eyckhof 4
2311 BV Leiden
Room number 1.05a

Fields of interest

My published work so far focuses primarily on the interaction between literature and religious culture in early modern England (approximately 1500–1700), with a special interest in the Reformation and the (religious) history of the human body. I am currently preparing a new research project on the cultural history of interpersonal forgiveness, circa 1575–1900.


My first book, Devil Theatre: Demonic Possesion and Exorcism in English Renaissance Drama, 1556-1642, reads representations of demonic possession and exorcism in English Renaissance drama in relation to early modern theological and political controversies over these issues.

In 2012 I published a second monograph, entitled Pain and Compassion in Early Modern English Literature and Culture. This book investigates changing early modern perceptions of physical pain in a range of literary, religious, philosophical and medical texts, with a special focus on the literary representation of pain. I argue that early modern culture located the meaning of pain partly in its capacity to elicit compassion in others, but also show that the nature of this compassion was fiercely contested. This second book is the result of a VENI research grant awarded to me by NWO (Dutch Organization for Academic Research) in 2006.

I am currently working on a new research project, tentatively entitled “Interpersonal Forgiveness and Reconciliation: A Cultural Philology, 1575–1890”. This project proceeds from the observation that since the second half of the twentieth century, forgiveness and reconciliation have become pervasive themes in western culture, both on a political level and in personal relations.

The aim of the project is to provide a cultural genealogy of the concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation from the late sixteenth to the late nineteenth century. In this way it will elucidate the various meanings of forgiveness before it became the dominant political and ethical concern which it is in modern society.

The project will focus on interpersonal rather than divine forgiveness – although it will also show how conceptions of secular reconciliation drew on the language of divine forgiveness. I examine a range of different textual sources, from plays to novels and from life-writing to sermons. My aim, therefore, is not in the first instance to examine forgiveness as a concrete practice, but rather to explore the various ways in which forgiveness was conceptualized in these sources.

Curriculum Vitae

Lecturer in English literature at the University of Leiden

NWO VENI research fellow at Leiden

Junior lecturer in English Literature at Leiden

PhD candidate in English literature, University of Leiden.

BA and MA in English language and literature at the University of Utrecht and the University of Sheffield

Teaching activities

I mainly teach courses on English literature from 1500 to 1800. In addition to first- and second-year courses on Renaissance and eighteenth-century literature, I will be offering a third-year module on Shakespeare and an MA module on John Milton next year. I am also happy to supervise BA and MA theses, especially on English literature from the period 1500-1800.

Key publications

(See the ‘Published work’ tab for a full list.)

Last Modified: 10-12-2015