ALCS Essay Prize 2008

The committee of the ALCS are delighted to congratulate Jasper van der Steen and David van der Linden for their winning essays in the ALCS Essay Prize for 2008. We received entries from the fields of sociolinguistics, contemporary literature, and Flemish history, but this year the two winning entries were both in the field of seventeenth-century Dutch history, and both explored the experiences of those living or travelling in a foreign country, but from complementary perspectives.

Jasper van der Steen was awarded the prize for the best postgraduate essay, for his essay titled “ ‘This nation was not made for me’: William III’s introduction to etiquette, ritual and ceremony at the English course, 1688-1691”, which examined the possible influences of William III’s ‘Dutchness’ on the cultural norms of English court and society – and of its influence on him. William adopted many of the rituals associated with the monarchy, despite his personal distaste for them, but drew the line, it appears, at the practice of the King’s Touch, which smacked too much of papist supersitition to him.

At the undergraduate level, the prize went to a study not of a Dutchman in England, but of the reverse: British travellers in the Netherlands. David van der Linden’s essay – which won in a very strong undergraduate field this year – is entitled “Lessons in Devotion: The religious experience of John Evelyn and the Puritan Sir William Brereton in the Dutch Republic”, and is a study of how these travellers in essence saw what they were looking for. Brereton the Puritan was struck by the pleasing simplicity and devotion of Church architecture and practice, while John Evelyn examined religion from the perspective of an interested but impartial observer, examining it alongside equally interesting developments in the arts and sciences.

We congratulate Jasper van der Steen and David van der Linden on their excellent work, and all the entrants for the very stimulating reading they provided the prize committee. We look forward to receiving your entries for 2009 by September 30 th. Jasper van der Steen and David van der Linden each receive a year’s free subscription to ALCS (including the journal Dutch Crossing), and £100.