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Cultural & Visual Analysis


Admission requirements


  • What is Culture? (required for HD: CHS students)


How do we ‘read’ cultural productions? What do paintings, photographs, films and other cultural constructs have in common, how do they create meaning and how can they be interpreted as part of wider public discourses? How do museums frame and influence our interpretation of the works of art that they present, and how can we read streets, squares and the statues in them in terms of social and political dynamics? These questions, among others, are the focus of this course, which prepares students for a more advanced study of visual and cultural practices.

Our readings and discussions will concentrate on a wide range of themes, genres, contexts, agents and discourses as well as gaining insights into a number of specific cultural constructs, ranging from Renaissance paintings to images relating to the Black Lives Matter movement and from Alfonso Cuarón’s film Roma (2018) to the Iñupiaq videogame Never Alone (2014). Although our main focus will be on learning the skills to analyze these works and to argue our interpretations, the course has a strong theoretical component. We will read a number of theoretical texts and discuss which strategies these can offer us to analyze cultural constructs and their role in the societies that created them.

Course Objectives


  • Understand the dynamics of a cultural/visual communication model

  • Understand the role and function of visual/cultural constructs in social and political discourses,

  • Identify key concepts in cultural and visual analysis.


  • Provide a complex analysis of cultural/visual constructs,

  • Analyze critical interpretations and evaluations of cultural constructs,

  • Apply theoretical concepts and methods in the analysis of cultural/visual constructs,

  • Describe such an analysis in a number of genres (academic essay, vlog and podcast),

  • Write a critical literature review,

  • Write an effective methodology section.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of two-hour seminars, comprising interactive lectures, discussions and practical exercises. Students are expected to come prepared to class and to participate actively in discussions.

Assessment Method

  • Participation 10%

  • Vlog assignment 20%

  • Podcast assignment 20%

  • CLR assignment 25%

  • Final paper (1500 words) 25%

Please note that all assignments need to be submitted in order to pass the course and that penalties will apply to work that is handed in after the deadline.

Reading list

A detailed reading list will be provided before the start of the course.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Federico de Musso, MA, (Block 1)
Dr. Jacqueline Hylkema, (Block 3)