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Political Culture and National Identities


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


This seminar focuses on important and fairly recent scholarly views and insights in the field of Political Culture and National Identities. The basic assumption behind this seminar is that the study of political culture and national identity gains in significance once these aspects are considered from an international comparative perspective.

In this respect, the concept of ‘political transfer’ plays an important role, implying the adoption of inspiring foreign examples (e.g. social movements, symbols, political parties).

The course begins with some theoretical reflections on this field of research. Thereafter, the seminar focuses on important studies of the history of the western world in the nineteenth and twentieth century from an international comparative perspective.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  2. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
  3. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;
  4. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
  5. (ResMA only): The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;
    • in the specialisation Political Culture and National Identities: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800.
  2. (ResMA only): Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Literature Seminar

The student:

  1. has acquired thorough knowledge and comprehension of the approach of comparison and political transfer and their role in current historiography.


The timetable is available on the MA History website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Lectures: 14 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 160 hours

  • Assignment(s): 46 hours

  • Final Paper: 60 hours

Assessment method

1. Please state the methods of assessment for this Literature Seminar, and make explicit in how they are connected to the learning objectives of this course: – Refer to the numbering of the learning objectives as stated above in the section ‘Course objectives’. – Please make sure that the methods of assessment cover all learning objectives.
2. State clarly how all parts of the assessments will be weighed, resulting in the final grade.
3. State the terms for a resit.

  • Essay (2000-2500 words; which should incorporate the knowledge and skills acquired while writing the small assignments)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-7

  • 6 Assignments (short written reflections on the required reading)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-7

  • Participation (in class discussions)
    Measured learning objectives: 2-3

  • For ResMa students only: extra assignment which demonstrates the ability to apply the knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines
    Measured learning objectives: 1-7


Written paper: 50 %
Participation: 20 %
Assignments: 30 %

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.


Blackboard will be used for: - to post assignments and papers;

  • for communication.

Reading list

– H. te Velde, ‘Political Transfer: An Introduction’, European Review of History 12 (2005) pp. 205-221 – Stefan Berger, ‘Comparative History’ in: Stefan Berger, Heiko Feldner and Kevin Passmore eds., Writing History: Theory and Practice (London 2003) pp. 161-180. – Willibald Steinmetz and Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, ‘The Political as Communicative Space in History: The Bielefeld Approach’ in: W. Steinmetz, I. Gilcher-Holthey, H-G. Haupt eds., Writing Political History Today (Frankfurt/New York 2013) 11-33. – Piet de Rooy, Ons stipje op de wereldkaart (Amsterdam 2014) or Tiny Spot on the Earth : The Political Culture of the Netherlands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century (Amsterdam 2015, also online). – Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (London 1987). – Mark Mazower, Dark Continent. Europe’s Twentieth Century (London 1998). – Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (London 2004). – In Semester I: Stefan Berger, The Past as History: National Identity and Historical Consciousness in Modern Europe (Basingstoke 2015). In Semester II: Chr. Clark, The Sleepwalkers. How Europe went to War in 1914 (London 2012).

Additional literature will be announced around the start of the course in class and 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.


Semester I: Dr. H.J.Storm

Semester II: Dr. P.G.C. Dassen