How can we make scientific claims about the style of a novel? How can we give a precise judgment on the effectivity of the use of rhetorical figures in speeches or other non-literary texts? Everyone knows intuitively what we mean when we talk about ‘style’. In literary criticism and text linguistics alike, style is considered the most important factor in the success of a (literary) text. It is therefore strange that until recently there was no scientific discipline dealing with stylistic research in Dutch Netherlandic studies. Luckily, this situation has changed. September 2007 marked the start of the NWO research programme ‘Stylistic of Dutch’ (2007-2012).

In our programme, knowledge and insights from linguistics, literary analysis and rhetoric will be combined. The modern cognitive semantic notion of ‘construal’ provides the theoretical basis for unifying these three traditions. The goal of our project is to develop a set of tools for the stylistic investigation of Dutch texts from different, literary and non-literary, genres.

The programme strives to achieve this goal by means of:

  • developing a new, scientifically sound method of stylistic analysis for different Dutch texts, using the same cognitive linguistic framework;
  • producing precise stylistic analyses of different types of text; 
  • developing and testing methods for the empirical investigation of effects of stylistic phenomena on addressees;
  • critically employing and adapting linguistic, literary and rhetorical concepts, in the light of the stylistic analyses. 
  • By developing a sound new method of stylistic analysis for a specific language, the programma also aims to contribute to the basis of long-term comparative stylistic research of texts in different languages, including translations.

The programme aims to fill a gap in Netherlandic studies that resulted from its division into three relatively independent disciplines in the second half of the 20th century; it takes inspiration from the steady Anglo-Saxon tradition of stylistic studies (represented in the Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA) and its journal Language and Literature, and especially from the recent emergence of cognitive poetics, in which cognitive linguistics and literary scholarship meet.

Last Modified: 21-07-2008