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Cultures of Collecting: Early Modern Cultures of Collecting


Admission requirements

See Teaching and Examination Regulations


This course is part of the MA specialization Museums and Collections, and will introduce students to the history and theory of early modern collections and collecting cultures.

In the early modern period, Kunst- & Wunderkammern and other collections of naturalia and artificialia were crucial in the shaping, production and transmission of knowledge in Europe. We will discuss key concepts (such as “wonder”, “curiosity”, “emblematic world view”, “exotic” and others) and look at contemporary sources pertinent to the understanding of the culture of collecting and research in this field. We will focus more particularly on the visual images of collections and objects of knowledge and their conceptual, historical and iconographical meanings and functions.

Course objectives

  • students can demonstrate an understanding of this history and theory of early modern collecting;

  • students will understand and trace the development in the visualisation of collections and objects of knowledge;

  • students will be able to formulate a set of research questions and hypotheses on a chosen subject in this field;

  • students will present their research in both a presentation and research paper.


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

Mode of instruction

Seminar meetings and (t.b.a.) excursion.

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to apply to the Examination Board of the MA Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Course Load

Total course load for the course 10 ec x 28 hours = 280 hours (10 ec):

  • attending seminars: 12 × 3 = 36 hours;

  • preparation seminars (incl. reading): 12 × 8 = 96 hours;

  • research, preparation presentation and writing of paper: 148 hrs.

Assessment method

  • Class participation and individual presentation (20%);

  • Research paper, 6000 words (80%).


The individual presentation should be a 5.0 or higher in order to complete the course. The final grade for the course is established by determination of the weighted average.


The only resit possibility is a rewrite of the paper.


Blackboard will be used throughout the course for announcements, reading materials, discussions and assignments.

Reading list

  • Lorraine Daston & Katherine Park, Wonder and the Order of Nature 1150-1750, Zone Books: New York 1998 (and reprints);

  • Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge, Routledge: London & New York 1992 and reprints.

All other reading materials will made avalaible electronically.


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.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: Please see the website Study in Leiden for information on how to apply/register for this course.

Students who are not in the MA Arts and Culture programme, but who would like to take this course as an optional course, please contact Mrs. Martine van Leeuwen MA the co-ordinator of studies.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Contact information

Mw. Dr. M. (Marika) Keblusek
Administrations Office Huizinga