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Making. Contemporary Art, Materiality, Agency


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


In his book Making. Anthropology, Archeology, Art and Architecture (London/New York, Routledge 2013), British anthropologist and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, Tim Ingold, argues that making not only builds environments and transforms lives, but that it creates knowledge. He ties the four disciplines (quadruple A) together by focusing on the processes of making in which the materials are seen as active as the makers: they respond to each other, correspond – if you like – and thus form is generated. What does it mean to ‘make things’, what do things, objects, and mutatis mutandis art works afford us, humans, to do, act, react, reflect, reposition ourselves? What does it mean to be with the world, with the materials, the objects, art? “Materials think in us”, says Ingold, “as we think through them”. We have a relation with the world that Ingold calls ‘correspondence’. In this course we will discuss contemporary art works and art practices from around the world as lively materials. Within the field of anthropology, for Ingold the aim is to practice teaching and learning, acquiring insight, as transformational. Can we accomplish something likewise in the field of contemporary art studies? To get the feel of making, for the midterm assignment the students are asked to make something and write a brief commentary/reflection on the process. The final paper needs to be a thorough analysis of what it means to understand materials, and hence the material art works as active agents.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • Acquire knowledge of and insight in the debates revolving around contemporary art, materiality and the notion of ‘agency’.

  • Train to reflect on relevant theories and approaches.

  • Learn how art interacts with and can be productive in exchange with theory and debate – understanding learning as transformational.

  • Learn to understand how art practice and theory mutually challenge each other, and how this interchange stimulates an awareness of diverse positions and a different take on art in its material agency.

  • Gaining insight into the cultural and societal role and function of art when it is seen as an active agent.

  • Learn to analyze works of art, curatorial practices and theoretical positions, and presenting the results of these analyses in oral presentations (including making a poster) and academic papers.

  • Practise 21st-century skills such as collaborating, critical and creative thinking, solving problems, self-regulating, social and cultural skills.


The timetable is available on the Arts and Culture website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar;

  • Excursion to relevant exhibition

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to aply to the Examination Board of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Course Load

Course load in summary: 10 ects (280 hrs)

  • Seminars: 3 hours per week x 12 weeks: 36 hours;

  • Readings for first block of the course: 6 x 6 hours: 36 hours

  • Reading, preparing and giving oral presentation: 50 hours

  • Writing midterm assignment 38 hours

  • Assignments to prepare for individual research topic and poster: 40 hours

  • Writing of final course paper: 80 hours (re-reading texts, collecting research material, searching and reading additional literature, composing and writing of paper).

Assessment method

  • The seminar is a 3 hours per week course, in which we all together discuss the course books, students give presentations, participate in discussions, reflect on the issues discussed, collaborate in assignments and write papers (mid-term and final paper);

  • The seminar will be concluded with poster presentations that will lead up to the final paper.

  • Excursion to relevant exhibition;

  • Oral presentation, discussion, participation.

  • Final paper

ResMa students that take this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students, include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject, and produce a longer paper (see below).


  • The final grade is the average of the three grades:

  • Oral presentation chapters Ingold: 25%

  • Midterm assignment + written reflection of ca 800 words: 25%

  • Poster (or other) and final paper (ca. 4.000 words incl notes, excl. biblogr., a/o): 50%

A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the poster and final paper are a 6.0 or higher.

ResMa students that take this course are asked to write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate more complex and original research questions than the MA students and their paper needs to be ca. 5.000 words

All elements of the course need to be a pass.


There is a re-sit for the assignments.

Inspection and feedback

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:

  • information

  • course materials, texts, PowerPoints

  • announcements

Reading list

Assigned Literature (course books for the seminar):

  • Tim Ingold, Making. Anthropology, Archeology, Art and Architecture (London/New York, Routledge 2013) ISBN 978-0-415-56723-7


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. You can register until two weeks after classes have started however students are advised to register as soon as possible and preferably before the start of the course.
In the case of electives: please be aware that most electives have a maximum amount of students who can enroll. Do not approach the course instructor in case the class is full. You will automatically be put on a waiting list.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher Prof. dr. C.J.M. Zijlmans