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LUCAS seminar: Cultural Theory for the 21st Century


Admission requirements

Students have finished a BA in a form of Literary Studies or Art History, and they have been admitted to the LUCAS Research Master Literary Studies or Arts and Culture.


LUCAS aims to establish an interdisciplinary scholarly community that fosters a deep understanding of the power and dynamics of art and cultural objects in the past and present. In research and education, the institute contributes to an active understanding of and strives to be a stimulus for cultural literacy and the transference of culture. Since its foundation in 1575, humanist interest in languages, literature, art and cultures has been Leiden University's core focus, and is now LUCAS’s core focus. This interest has transformed over the centuries into a study of culture in every region of the world. While LUCAS has accumulated a deep knowledge of European culture, it does not operate from a Eurocentric perspective. LUCAS firmly believes that to understand the arts is to study all human cultures and the interactions between them. In times of globalization, when colonial problems from the past are much more than ghosts in the present, and in an era that also has been defined as the Anthropocene, the question of what culture is doing or can do is a paramount one.

We will be reading key texts, and students are asked to contact an internatonal scholar who is relevant to their thesis, read his or her work and introduce the group to this work. Students write a position paper and the course is concluded with a mini-conference.

  • Peter Burke, What is Cultural History? Second Edition. Cambridge & Malden, 2008
    is the common source plus articles by Sara Ahmed, Gayatri Chakravory Spivak, Jennifer Summit and others; all material is being disclosed via open source or via legally accepted distribution of articles

Course objectives

After this course students:

  • Have acquired knowledge about key issues and problems in the contemporary field of culture studies;

  • Have proven to be able to positon their own research in the complex field of cultural history and cultural analysis;

  • Have sharpened the scope and underpinning of their research by focusing on an international expert that is pivotal for their work;

  • Have trained in enlarging their national and international network on the basis of the content of their research;

  • Are able to convincingly present their position and topic to an interdisciplinary audience of peers


See Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research.

Course Load

  • Classes: 12 x 2 = 24

  • Preparation classes, reading material: 13 x 4 = 52

  • Acquiring in-depth knowledge of the work of an international scholar: 24

  • Writing positioning paper: 20

  • Peer assessment: 5

  • Preparing presentation mini-conference: 5

  • Mini-conference: 10

Assessment method

Students will be:

  • Doing two presentations; one in class and one during the concluding mini conference – the second one is graded (40%).

  • Write a positioning paper which is graded (50%)

  • Participating (10%)

Only the positioning paper can be part of a resit.

Presentations are discussed in class; the grade for and content of the positioning paper is part of an evaluation within three weeks after handing in the paper.


  • Presentation 50%

  • Participation 10%

  • paper 40%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

Exam review

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.


Via Blackboard will be used for:

  • To disclose much of the relevant studymaterial

  • To communicate and update.

Reading list

All material is being disclosed via open source or via legally accepted distribution of articles,with

  • Peter Burke, What is Cultural History? Second Edition. Cambridge & Malden, 2008

  • All articles, by for instance by Gayatri Chakravory Spivak, Jennifer Summit and others are being disclosed via open source or via legally accepted distribution of articles


Via uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Contact information