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From architectural style to global subculture: Goths, Gothic and Gothic heritage


Admission requirements

Similar to the admission requirements for the MA Arts and Culture, ResMA Arts and Culture and ResMA Arts, Literature and Media. Students of MA Arts and Culture: Art History take priority.

If a student has no prior knowledge of what the Gothic and the Neo-Gothic entail, we would advise him/her/them to read up on this before the first meeting.


Gothic is a truly versatile concept. It can pertain to buildings, artworks, styles of clothing, crafts, music, literature, even landscapes, and each time it will mean something completely different. In this course we will study how Gothic emerged in the crownlands of twelfth-century France and spread throughout Western Europe. Medieval monuments were first labeled Gothic in a pejorative sense by fifteenth-century Italian critics and the term was much later appropriated, this time in a laudatory and legitimizing sense, to brand a contemporary design movement. While the course is not a class on “style,” per se, careful examination of Gothic heritage – religious, courtly and civic – nevertheless offers an opportunity to interrogate the role of stylistic classification, both as a disciplinary tool and as a construct that shapes societies with its overlay of ideology and aesthetics. We will also examine the diverse ways in which medieval Gothic art and architecture were revived and retheorized in the 18th and 19th centuries. Using a set of geographically diverse case studies, we will track the shifting associational values of Gothic style and work to understand its constitutive role in political debates. Many of the course themes will come together during a three-day excursion to Bruges, where the medieval and neo-styles blend to perfection.

Course objectives

  • To train your academic skills, i.e., to get an insight into the historiography of this subject

  • To learn how to find, read and evaluate critically the relevant literature

  • To reflect and theorize on the subject

  • To think up and work out a case study

  • To present this case study in class with the use of PowerPoint

  • To talk about a building or artwork on site

  • To write an exhibition review

  • To learn how to evaluate presentations of other students and act as a referee

  • To write an academic paper


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Introductory lectures
Assignments to be discussed in class
Student talks
Three-day excursion

Assessment method


Assignments, student talks and the excursion are compulsory components of the course, even if they are not graded. Throughout the course students will hand in parts of their final paper for evaluation, guidance and feedback.

For this course you will write a 5000-word (7500 research master) paper on a building or artwork of your choice that deals with an aspect of the Gothic.


  • Paper (100%)


If a student fails the first attempt, the paper will have to be rewritten.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The literature to be read for this course will be posted and made available through Brightspace. If you have no knowledge of Gothic or Neo-Gothic art and architecture, we advise you to read up before our first meeting. Literature suggestions will be made available via Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap Login | Universiteit Leiden is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal