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LUCAS seminar: Cultural Theory for the 21st Century-Studying Representation and Mediation


Admission requirements

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


This course contributes to LUCAS’ aim to establish an interdisciplinary scholarly community that fosters a deep understanding of the power and dynamics of art, media and cultural objects in the past and present. To that order we reflect in the first half of the course on how culture is defined and studied in the last decades and what some of the challenges are in the contemporary period. In times of globalization (if this is the proper term) and migration, when colonial problems from the past are much more than ghosts in the present, and in an era that also has been defined (rightly or wrongly) as the Anthropocene, the question of what culture is doing or can do is a paramount one. In the second half we move towards a collective understanding of the notions of representation and mediation. In this part of the course students train their capacity to formulate research questions with regard to specific cultural artefacts, and in the context of the dynamic between representation and mediation. Meanwhile they have to choose a scholar that they find pivotal to their research. The course ends with a mini-conference.

Course objectives

After this course students:

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

  • Have a clear idea what they understand representation and mediation to be;

  • 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;

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


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


Participation: 10%
Conference presentation: 40%
Positioning paper: 50%


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


Only the paper can function as a resit.

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

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

Next to Burke, we will read articles by Giorgio Agamben, Sara Ahmed, Frank Ankersmit, Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, Sigmund Freud, Frantz Fanon, Alexander Galloway, Edouard Glissant, bell hooks, Gayatri Chakravory Spivak, Isabel Stengers, Jennifer Summit, McKenzie Wark, Raymond Williams; all material is being disclosed via open source or via legally accepted distribution of articles


Enrolment through My Studymap Login | Universiteit Leiden is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Not applicable.