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BA3 seminar: Preservation as a Creative Practice in the Long Nineteenth Century


Admission requirements

The following courses need to be completed:

  • All first year courses of the BA Art History

  • Two BA2 seminars


Participants in this course will learn about the emergence of preservationist thinking in Europe over the course of the long nineteen century. From the heated debates in Revolutionary France to the legal frameworks developed in turn-of-the-century Vienna, we will consider ways in which the heritage discourse destabilized artistic practices. How did fundamental questions of a work’s survival, durability, safety, replicability, and transportability expand the scope of creativity for architects and artists? To what extent did new theories of preservation inspire designers to reexamine their understanding of setting, materiality and audience? As we make sense of such questions, we will also devote special attention to the ways in which preservationist themes engage different publics. Rooted as they are in memory and loss, both personal and collective, debates surrounding the preservation of individual monuments create spaces where disciplinary concerns confront the emotional investments of broader constituencies.

Each meeting of the seminar is organized around a curated pairing: we will examine a key written example of preservationist thinking in connection to the work of a contemporary “creative practitioner.” How, for example, did the writings of Quatremère de Quincy inform Alexandre Lenoir’s reimagining of the Couvent des Petits Augustins? How did the design sensibilites of Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, the so-called “Ladies of Llangollen,” shape Hermann von Pückler-Muskau’s understanding of landscape heritage? What do John Ruskin’s theories of preservation owe to the work of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre? And how did Victor de Stuers public calls for preservation impact Pierre Cuypers design of the Rijksmuseum?

Ultimately, participants in this seminar will consider the continued resonace of nineteenth-century preservationist dialogues within the current heritage discourse, especially with respect to the efforts of UNESCO. For the final written assignment, students will critically evaluate the various historical justifactions for preservation and re-deploy these arguments in a “nomination file,” a formal proposal to inscribe a particular monument in UNESCO’s “World Heritage List.”

Course objectives

  • Students learn different theories pertaining to the preservation of cultural heritage (in particular those that were developed over the couse of the long nineteenth century).

  • Students learn to interpret theories of preservation within their specific cultural contexts.

  • Students learn to identify connections between theories of preservation and contemporaneous artistic production.

  • Students learn how to critically engage primary sources.

  • Students learn how the current heritage policies and procedures of UNESCO were shaped by the preservation theories of the nineteenth century.

  • Students learn about the politics and procedures for inscribing a property in UNESCO’s “World Heritage List.”

  • Students learn to critically evaluate concepts of “outstanding universal values” in relation to a specific monument by preparing their own “World Heritage List” nomination file.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • Reading Responses (consisting of one selected image + one succinct question or reflection, maximum 100 words, prompted by the assigned reading). These must be uploaded before the start of each seminar meeting.

  • Oral Presentation (10 minutes, to take place on 03-11-2020, or 10-11-2020). Students will present a preliminary version of their final written assignment, including visual material (images, maps, and other media).

  • Final Written Assignment (3000 words, excluding references). In lieu of the customary final paper, students will prepare a “Nomination File,” proposing a specific monument or territory for inscription in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Students will learn about the existing procedures for nomination and format their final written assignment according to the guidelines specified in UNESCO’s “Annex 5: Format for the nomination of properties for inscription on the World Heritage List.” Within this template, many of the same expectations one would have for a final paper still apply: clear argumentation, supporting visual material carefully sourced and analyzed, and references to appropriate academic literature and other sources. In particular, students are expected to reference the various arguments in favor of preservation which have been discussed throughout the seminar. These arguments should be critically considered and redployed in an attempt to assert the selected property’s “outstanding universal values.”


The final grade is determined by the weighted average of the Reading Responses (15%) Oral Presentation (15%) and the Final Written Assignment (70%). A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher and the Final Written Assignment is a 6.0 or higher.


A resit/ rewrite can be done for constituent examinations which are failed. As far as applicable all resit/ rewrite examinations take place at the same time, after the final (constituent) examination

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

All course readings will be made available as .pdfs or as links to open access online platforms on Brightspace. Each week students are expected to complete a required reading before the start of class, typically a primary source by a “preservation theorist.” The full course sylabus (also available on Brightspace) includes a list of “Further Reading” for each seminar meeting. These texts are NOT required reading, but they might be helpful resources for the final written assignment.

The required weekly readings include:

  • 15-09-2020: Alessandro Petti, “Refugee Heritage” [including “The Architecture of Exile IV. B,” and Parts 1-4] on e-flux architecture, 2017 [online] accessible at:

  • 22-09-2020: “The Letter to Leo X by Raphael and Baldassare Castiglione, c. 1519,” in Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, Palladio’s Rome: A Translation of Andrea Palladio’s Two Guidebooks to Rome (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), pp. 179-92.

  • 29-09-2020: Quatremère de Quincy, “Letters to Miranda” in Letters to Miranda and Canova on the Abduction of Antiquities from Rome and Athens, [1796], Chris Miller and David Gilks, trans. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2012), pp. 92-123.

  • 06-10-2020: Hermann, Fürst von Pückler-Muskau, [Excerpt from] “Letter XXV,” in Tour in England, Ireland, and France in the Years 1828 and 1829; With Remarks on the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants, and Anecdotes of Distinguished Public Characters. In a Series of Letters. By a German Prince, Sarah Austin, trans. (Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1833), pp. 315-320. AND: Hermann, Fürst von Pückler-Muskau, “Introduction,” “Chapter One: Fundamental Idea and Plan of a Park,” “Chapter Four: General Groupings and Buildings,” and “Chapter Thirteen: Maintenance,” in Hints on Landscape Gardening, Together with a Description of their Practical Application in Muskau [1834], John Hargraves, trans. (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2014), pp. 25-27; 31-32; 39-42; 74-75.

  • 13-10-2020: John Ruskin, “VI. The Lamp of Memory” in The Seven Lamps of Architecture [1849] (London: George Allen; New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1903), pp. 221-247.

  • 27-10-2020: Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, On Restoration, [1866], B Bucknall, trans. (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle: 1875), pp. 1-71.

  • 17-11-2020: Arata Isozaki, “Chapter 9: Identity over Time,” in Japan-ness in Architecture, Sabu Kohso, trans. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), pp. 133-146; 331-332.

  • 24-11-2020: Lionel Gossman, “Imperial Icon: The Pergamon Altar in Wilhelminian Germany,” in The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 78, No. 3 (September 2006), pp. 551-587.

  • 01-12-2020: Alois Riegl, “The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Character and Development,” [1903], trans. Kurt W. Forster and Diane Ghirardo, in Oppositions 25 (Fall 1982), pp. 20-51.

  • 08-12-2020: Victor de Stuers, [Excerpts from] “Holland op zijn smalst,” in De Gids, Jaargang 37, 1873, pp. 320-337; 398-403 [online] accessible at:


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S. Lauritano