The Shaping of an Innocent Martyr. The Linguistic Strategies of the Remonstrant Widow Willemken van Wanray (ca. 1573-1647)
Keywords:Willemken van Wanray, autobiographical narrative, martyrdom, self-positioning, intended audience, language-driven approach
After the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) forbade Remonstrant gatherings in the Dutch Republic, many Remonstrants secretly continued preaching or attending sermons and were consequently fined or imprisoned. Among them was the Nijmegen widow Willemken van Wanray (ca. 1573-1647), who wrote an autobiographical narrative of the religious persecution she endured. Scholars have shed light on the role of culturally existing scripts on which authors relied to present themselves as role models in their autobiographical narratives; such stories functioned in the family circle as examples of Christian behavior. This article, however, uses a linguistic approach to better understand the construction and functioning of autobiographical narratives as communicative events, by investigating the role of linguistic variation in positioning the self in interaction with an audience. It demonstrates that early modern writers could vary verb types and tenses to create multiple identities. Willemken van Wanray made strategic linguistic choices to present not only a Christian example to her descendants, but, anticipating further religious turbulence, she also created an innocent self for potential Gomarist readers, in order to avoid renewed persecution.
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Copyright (c) 2018 Cora van de Poppe
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