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Culture and Society of the Netherlands: An Inside View


Admission requirements

Open to all international students except regular Dutch Studies students.


When you choose to study in the Netherlands, this course will definitely be an enrichment of your Dutch experience. This series of lectures will give you a broad overview of Dutch history and contemporary society. Topics (amongst others): geography, history, government and politics, the people, the language, and art. A bike trip and a film will also be part of the program. To stimulate students to see more of the Netherlands than just Leiden and Amsterdam, an individual fieldtrip to a Dutch town is part of the course. This assignment is done in pairs and rounded off with a City Report (2000 words).

Students may extend their study load to 10 ec by reading an additional reading list on one of the following subjects: ‘The Dutch Golden Age and its Paintings’ or ‘The Second World War in Dutch Literature’. Reading List below.

Course objectives

This course aims at giving a broad overview of today’s culture and society of the Netherlands, and its historical backgrounds.


Consult the Dutch Studies timetable (available from June on).

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Excursion

Assessment method

City Report 25%
Written examination on class materials and required readings 75%
For the additional Reading List: written open book test with 3 or 4 longer essay questions. This test will make up 50% of the total grade.


Http:// > courses > search for ‘Inside View’
The Blackboard site provides the complete program, texts, slideshows, quizzes that help to prepare for the test, and links to interesting pages on the internet. Please enroll. This site will be available as of two weeks before the start of the semester.

Reading list

  • Emmeline Besamusca en Jaap Verheul (eds.), Discovering the Dutch: On Culture and Society of the Netherlands. Amsterdam University Press, 2010.

  • Harry Mulisch: The Assault. Translated from the Dutch by Claire Nicolas White. Pantheon Books, New York. Also translated in many other languages.
    Additional reading list for students who wish to take this course for 10 ec:
    1 – The Golden Age and its Paintings

Maarten Prak, The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century: A Golden Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Mariët Westermann, The Art of the Dutch Republic, 1585-1718. London, The Everyman Art Library, 1996.

Klaske Muizelaar and Derek Phillips, Inside the Homes of the Wealthy: The Conditions for Viewing Paintings’ and ‘Christ, the Virgin Mary, Venus, and other Religious and Mythological Figures’. Chapters 2 and 4 from: Picturing Men and Women in the Dutch Golden Age, Paintings and People in Historical Perspective. Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2003. p.37-63 and p.87-112.

Julie Berger Hochstrasser, ‘Domestic Commodities’. Chapter 2 from: Still Life and Trade in the Dutch Golden Age. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2007. p.23-59.

2 – World War II in Dutch Literature

Background from Wikipedia: History of the Netherlands (1939–1945) History of the Jews in the Netherlands (parts on the Shoah) Dutch Resistance Japanese occupation of Indonesia
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (1974)

Marga Minco, Bitter Herbs (1957)
W.F.Hermans, The Darkroom of Damocles ( 1958) (use the translation of 2007)
Jona Oberski, A Childhood (1978)
Jeroen Brouwers, Sunken Red (1981)
Harry Mulisch, The Assault (1982)


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions or problems, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272233 or mail: Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see
this website for information on how to apply

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:
Registration Contractonderwijs via:


Secretary’s office Dutch Studies, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272233; mail:
Student advisor: Mw. I. Zagar, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 305B; mail: