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Practices and Debates in Art History


Admission requirements

See Teaching and Examination Regulations.


This course revolves around current debates in the field of art history and visual studies, such as art history versus visual and material culture studies and cultural heritage studies; the Euro-American focus of the discipline and the globalizing world; the relationship between art and science; current focus points of museum studies. Topics of debate will be exemplified and debated in a series of seminar meetings. Students will have to prepare readings and make ‘pitch to peer’ presentations focusing on art historical and interdisciplinary debates on key works of art.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • acquire insight into a variety of theories, debates, and practices in Art History;

  • analyse and understand various scholarly positions and their consequences for the meanings and agency of art works;

  • position oneself in relation to these;

  • develop skills in oral presentation while defending viewpoints and arguments with regard to art works;

  • present an analytical scholarly paper related to the course objectives.


Please consult the timetable on the MA Arts and Culture website.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar course with analysis and discussion of readings.

Course Load

The total course load is 140 hours (5 ec):

  • attending seminars and a one day colloquium: 4 hours per week x 7 weeks = 35 hours;

  • studying compulsory readings for seminars = 420 pages a 7 pages per hour = 60 hours;

  • preparation for the colloquium, = 15 hours (group discussions and critical reading of texts);

  • preparing and writing of course portfolio, = 30 hours (editing course notes, rereading texts, collecting research material, searching for additional literature, composing and writing of course portfolio 5000 words).

Assessment method

  • Presentation at the pitch-to-peer presentations, evaluation and class assignments (30%);

  • Written course portfolio of max. 4000 words, excl. notes and references (70%).

Pitch-to-peer presentation: instructions will be posted on BlackBoard.

The portfolio is composed of in total 9 written, 400 word essays (excl. notes, images, bibliographical references) based on the assignment given to you by the various instructors of lectures 2 -10.

ResMa students taking this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate a more complex and original research questions and include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject (paper 5.000 words including bibliography).


The final grade for the course is established by determination of the weighted average.


Re-examination via the course portfolio


Blackboard will be used for providing the readings of the lectures, the visual presentations and instructions for the pitch-to-peer presentations in Week 43 (Study week 24-28 Oct.)

Reading list

The literature will be announced through blackboard during the course.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.



For more practical questions and information please contact the secretarial office of the Arts and Culture Department, Huizinga Building, Doelensteeg 16, room 003. Tel. 071-5272 2687.
Administrations Office Huizinga