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Cultural Heritage and New Media Archives


Admission requirements

Propedeuse in the Humanities


Memory is not what is used to be. The location, the texture, the accessibility of memory and heritage are altering rapidly in the digital age. What does it mean to enter institutional archives for example museum or video- archives at home, online? And what does it mean for museums to have more and more demand for digital framing of their collection? All these tie into an overarching question: what happens to archival practices, when the nature of our everyday media becomes archival in itself?

The digital turn has enormous implications for the future of our past. How will we select, preserve and store our cultural heritage for future generations? The nearly unlimited capacity for storage of visual, aural and discursive material means that the character of heritage will never be the same. In this course, we will pose and theoretically frame some fundamental questions about these changes.

This is a course in two parts. In the first half, we will focus specifically on digital heritage and new media archives. Focusing on worldwide post-war and conflict situations specifically, we will analyze the affordances and constraints of new media (such as video) archives and collections. The course will focus in this part on six case studies, from Rwanda to Poland, and familiarize you with the relevant theoretical and methodological approaches to research such digital forms of heritage.

In the second part, we will focus on the collection, presentation, conservation and management of tangible cultural heritage. The emphasis will be on the development of the museum and on architectural, social and theoretical issues concerning contemporary museums and museum presentations. We will discuss the gains and losses of digitizing, speak with researchers and practicioners from the field, and envision new types of heritage collections.

The course is part of the minor in Cultural Memory or War and Conflict, but may be taken as an elective too.

Course objectives

  • Being able to distinguish the most important types of collections in various museums, archives, monuments, and heritage sites and identify similarities and differences.

  • Knowing why and in what ways individuals and institutions have collected cultural objects and have established heritage collections.

  • Being able to classify, characterize and analyse heritage collections and to analyze the different functions of cultural heritage.

  • Being able to identify, understand and evaluate crucial historical and contemporary museum practices and debates.

  • Having knowledge of the basic characteristics, affordances and restraints of the new media of the 20th and 21st century. Being able to apply this knowledge to analyze usage, accessibility and framing of heritage.


The timetable website

Mode of instruction

  • A series of lectures.

Course Load

140 hours

  • Tutoring: 28 hours

  • Literature-study: 52 hours

  • Writing of the final paper: 32 hours

  • Excursion: 8 hours

  • Weekly assignments: 20 hours

Assessment method

  • Final paper 70%

The paper will follow an arumentative essay structure, on a topic proposed by the student and agreed by the instructor, in relation to either:
1. A specific media practice OR
2. A specific museum exhibit / art installation OR
3. A corpora of archival materials
The essays will be graded on a standard 1-10 scale, via the following criteria:

  • Comprehension: How well does the paper reflect the understanding of the material, is the proper literature used, are additional sources missin.

  • Argumentation: The logic and viability of the argument presented, the existence of an overall thread in the paper, lack of red herrings and other logical fallacies.

  • Structure: How well the paper is structured and the use of signposting.

  • Presentation: Clarity of writing, correct adherence to the style and reasonable paging.

  • Weekly tasks: 30%

Weekly tasks consist of small 300-400 words assignments on a continuous case study (student- chosen) to be submitted 48 (working) hours before class. Those will last for the first 6 weeks of the course.


Only the written examination

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Uploading the reading material

  • Weekly assignment submission

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.
Week Topic Reading

1 New Media

  • Galloway, Networks, Critical Terms for Media Studies

  • Berry. Introduction. Critical Theory and the Digital

2 Data/base

  • Boyd and Crawford. Six Provocations for Big Data

3 Individuals and Memory

  • Stiegler. Memory .Critical Terms for Media Studies

  • Deleuze, Postscript on the Societies of Control

4 Media and Memory

  • Reading. Memory and Digital Media: Six Dynamics of the Globital Memory Field. New Media Memory.

  • Reading and Katriel. Introduction. Cultural Memories of Nonviolent Struggles

5 Interfaces

  • Ash, The interface envelope Introduction + chapter 1.

6 Wikipedia

  • Pentzold et al. Digging Wikipedia

All assignments submitted

7 Materiality and Community of Heritage

  • Guest Lecture: Tomomi Fushiya + literature TBA

8 Spaces and Heritage

  • Flynn. The Morphology of Space in Virtual Heritage. Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage

9 Video Games and cultural memory

  • Guest lecture + Activity, Stephanie de Smale

10 Preservation and Remediation • Dellmann. Beyond and with the Object +

  • Guest Lecture Sarah Dellmann

    11 Musea

    • Witcomb. The Materiality of Virtual Technologies. Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage

    12 Archives Excursion to the Leiden library, special collections.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


For questions about the content of this course please contact dr. A. Gekker

For practical matters please contact the secetarial office Opleiding Nederlandse taal en cultuur/neerlandistiek. This is located at Departmental office P.N. van Eyckhof 4, first floor room 101A. Tel. 071-527 2604.