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Art and Power II: Modernist Cultural Policies




Admission Requirements

This is a methodology course for the Political Arts Major and thus must be taken by students wishing to graduate with that major in 2015 or 2016. It can also be taken towards fulfilling the Global Citizenship component of the curriculum or as an elective course in the Human Interaction Major. There are no prerequisites for this course.


This second methodology course aims to give the student instruments to analyse and assess contemporary cultural policies by modern liberal-democratic governments. One central issue that arises when contemplating contemporary cultural policies in Europe and the US, is the dominance of Modernism. Why did governments embrace Modernism as the preferred artistic language for cultural policy and cultural diplomacy? How and why do governments use the cultural sphere in general, and Modernist culture in particular, to further their political causes?

Course Objectives

By the end of our exploration, we should expect to achieve:

  • Profound knowledge of various methods for researching and assessing cultural policies.

  • A good knowledge of contemporary cultural policies in liberal democracies.

  • A serious understanding of the concept of Modernism and its political implications.

  • A critical capacity for analysing contemporary cultural policies.

Mode of Instruction

There will be two approximately 2-hour sessions per regular week, organised into a balance of seminar instruction, discussions, student-presentations, and guest lectures.

A blackboard site will support our in-class discussion. Do check our course site regularly for up-to-date reading assignments, multi-media material, and announcements. For further details of how the course will proceed, see sections below on “Assessment” and “Weekly overview”.

This course will include a series of guest lectures of Cultural policy makers from the Dutch Government and Non-Governmental organizations, as well as excursions to Cultural Policy institutions.


To be confirmed in course syllabus:

  • Seminar participation: 20%
    Continuous assessment of your individual engagement with the course material and with the thoughts of your peers throughout the course.

  • Reflection papers: 30%
    Regular assessment of the progress of your understanding of the course objectives, through five short reflections of 500 – 600 words spread over the material and activities covered in Weeks 2 – 6. You will be graded on this cumulative portfolio of 2500 – 3000 words over this period.

  • Take Home Exam: 20%, deadline week 4

  • Final Research Essay, 30%, deadline: week 8


Christopher Butler, Modernism: A Very short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010

Recommended Reading: Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy, Athens, Georgia: Georgia Museum of Art, 2012

All other literature will be made available through Blackboard

Contact Information