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Elective: Art, Literature, and Law - The Question of the Human Nature of Right(s)

Vak
2013-2014

Admission requirements

This course is open for students of BA International Studies only. The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

Art and literature have, historically speaking, always been concerned with questions of justice, often addressing moral or political issues that could or cannot be entirely addressed within the confines of the law. In this course we study the relations between art, literature and law, focusing on the different ways in which (quasi-) legal issues are broached by literary texts. Special attention will be devoted to the way in which works of literature rethink the notion of humanity. Humanity, human dignity and human rights are foundational concepts in (international) law, yet the underlying conception of the human individual (as a free and rational being) has recently been questioned due to developments in the medical sciences, zoology, philosophy and global-political economies. We will look at works of art, literature and cinema that reflect on the legal, moral and political implications of these developments, and that rethink the distinctions between human beings and animals, men and machines, the living and the dead, or citizens and illegals. As we will see art and literature may raise raise fundamental questions about our legal system and our ideas on justice.

In the process the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterized by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable will be available on the BA International Studies website this autumn.

Mode of instruction

Tutorials and supervised research.

Assessment method

Weekly assignments, and a final paper of approx. 4-6,000 words (excluding tables and bibliography).

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Details will be circulated on Blackboard.

Registration

Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Remarks

Students following this course will need some affinity with analyzing and interpreting works of art. We do not consider art to be an illustration of theory. Art is what makes us think, and what, consequently, provokes us to look for theories that might be of help to explain what art is doing. In other works, we take art not only seriously as an independent object of study but also in how it affects us.