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Hundred Years Huizinga: The Centennial of Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen (1919-2019)


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Humanities Lab
If you have received your propaedeutic diploma within one academic year, your academic results are good and you are a very motivated student, you may apply for a place in the Humanities Lab.


Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen (The Waning of the Middle Ages) by Johan Huizinga is perhaps the most famous book on (medieval) history in Dutch. Hailed and criticized, cherished and rejected, Herfsttij has been remained influential up to this day, hundred years after its first publication in 1919. Scholars in various branches of medieval studies (literature, art, politics, religion) still refer to or work with Huizinga’s powerful evocation of the Burgundian splendor, aristocratic culture and mentality.
This course looks at the lasting appeal of Huizinga’s work, how its portrait of the later Middle Ages can be read as a response to prevailing views on the Renaissance, how Huizinga’s approach generated new methods in historical research and how even 21st century historians still benefit from or struggle with his ideas. But we look also at how Herfsttij originated. We will have access to the Huizinga archive in the Leiden University Library, we will discuss the new English translation of Herfsttij, to be published in 2019. When we study the afterlife of this classic in historiographical writing, students will be introduced to the evolutions and revolutions in the practices of cultural history, one of the key components of any discipline in the Faculty of Humanities.

Course objectives

Students are introduced to and gain knowledge of cultural history, medieval studies and its concepts.

They learn to

  • contextualize historical practices and sources within wider intellectual, artistic, religious and social cultures,

  • develop skills in analysis and interpretation of literary texts, art and culture

  • apply notions of literary and artistic criticism in a historical perspective


Courses of the Humanities Lab are scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.00 to 17.00.
For the exact timetable, please visit the following website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Excursion

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Lectures: 5 X 4=20

  • Study of compulsory literature: 6 X 8= 48 (reading list will be available on Blackboard before
    the start of the course)

  • Assignment(s): 60

  • Student symposium: Preparation and presentation: 12

Assessment method

Essay, presentation and participation.
If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the final essay. Contact the course lecturer for more information.


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursion). If you are unable to attend due to circumstances beyond your control, notify the Humanities Lab coordinators ( in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence, and hand in your weekly assignment in writing to the lecturer (if applicable). Being absent without notification and valid reason may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.


Blackboard will be used for:

Reading list

Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen in any edition (online: or translation. In class a selection of chapters will be discussed.


Students of the Humanities Lab will be registered via uSis by the administration of the Humanities Lab. More information about registration for courses will be provided on Blackboard.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Geert Warnar
Humanities Lab office: e-mail


If all participants of this course are Dutch native speakers, this course will be taught in Dutch.

This course is part of the Humanities Lab programme, visit the website for more information.
Visit the Honours Academy website for more information about the Honours College.