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Culture: Europe


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.

Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.
The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad overview of (Western) European culture and its influences. The course is divided into two blocks, culture and language, and addresses the overarching question: what is the meaning of the expression “(Western) Europe” in the cultural and linguistic fields?
In the culture block we will take a chronological look at a series of essential cultural ‘stages’ or ‘phases’ of European history, including Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment period and the Modern era, in order to examine how European identity came to be associated with notions of rationality, Christianity, science, Humanism, colonialism etc. We will do so by examining pivotal cultural artifacts and events, putting them in a context of ‘European identity’. What are the essential cultural elements that tie the multiple national and regional identities within the area together? What do you think of when you think of European culture? Plato, Shakespeare, Bach or Hagia Sophia? The Beatles, IKEA, Monty Python or UEFA? For each of the chosen cultural stages, we will take a closer look at cultural elements from its high as well as its low culture; throughout these lectures the question will be: how did these periods, artifacts and events shape a current European cultural identity?
In the language/culture block, we will take a chronological look at a series of essential linguistic ‘stages’ or ‘phases’ of European history: European linguistic imperialism and influences (18th-20th century); migrations, language and culture; religion, language and culture. We will focus at specific individual (historical/thematic/regional) cases, putting them in a context of ‘European identity’ inside but also outside the European Union. The comparative dimension of the analysis will consider examples of Eastern Europe.

Course objectives

Students will have:

  • a better understanding of the linguistic and cultural aspects in European processes of change (colonization and decolonization; crises; migration; religious change, shifting borders, etc.)

  • a better understanding of various links between politics, religion, language, arts, and political entities (states) in Europe

  • a critical comprehension of the impact of political-societal changes on language, film, literature.

Students will be able

  • to analyse in a scholarly way primary (including political texts, memoirs, fiction, and film) and secondary sources

  • to present and debate intellectually scholarly ideas and analyses.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture course with tutorials.
Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 32 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 60 hours

  • Assessments: 48 hours

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

The articles for this course will be put on blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. K.M.J. Sanchez, email
Dr. L.M.F. Bertens, email