This article probes the extent to which literary history and cultural history may mutually
illuminate each other, without neglecting the poetic dimension of literary works. This
poetic dimension is embedded within the genre repertoires that shape the production and
reception of literary works. One should therefore take into close account that the literary
representation of social conflict is always deflected by the prism of genre conventions.
Focusing on the case study of the Dutch Gothic novel, I argue that Gothic tales provide a
specific take on the post-war modernization of the Netherlands. As such, they make a
valuable contribution to historical debates about the periodization of the sixties and
seventies, not in spite of, but because of their specific poetic properties. Thus, it is very
well possible to bring literary works to bear upon the discussion of historical issues
without either infringing upon the relative autonomy of the literary system or neglecting
the specific expertise of literary studies as a discipline in its own rights.