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BA3 Seminar: Sensing Style: from Subcultures to Digital Bubbles


Admission requirements

The following courses need to be passed:

  • All first-year courses of the BA Art History or the BA Arts, Media and Society

  • Two BA2 Seminars


In thirteen seminar meetings we will make a journey through some of the most notorious subcultures from the late 19th century, the 1920s, and the decades after World War II. We will discuss these subcultures by means of a critical survey on the concept of style. Within the study of subculture, style seems to denote the specific expressive features that resonate and are made manifest within images, clothes, behavior and music. The manifestation of such features as appearances result from the need of specific groups in society to differentiate themselves from mainstream culture by means of the appropriation and subversion of visual, social and moral codes.

The ways in which the visual arts and different media throughout the 20th century facilitated such processes will be the topic of this course. Using specific notions of what style is, we will study subcultures to analyse how style transcends visual art, fashion, design and music.
Vice versa we will also analyze how the concept of style as a construct can be used to group specific and distinguishable expressions to define a (sub)culture. Apparently, it is possible to recognize certain art forms, as well as music and fashion as, for instance, typically ‘beatnik’, ‘punk’, or ‘hip-hop’. We will analyse this phenomenon from the perspective of the members of subcultures, as well as from artists who have engaged themselves with subcultures like, for instance, the Dadaists, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Furthermore, we will discuss the scholarly tradition involved with subcultures.

This course aims to look afresh at the history of the relation between subcultures and visual art and analyse artforms such as graffiti, performance art, film, video-art and games, from the perspective of being emerged in subculture. The aim is also to consider the extent to which the study of subcultures will allow us to look afresh at the notion of style from a more general art historical perspective.

Course objectives

  • Students learn to approach the concept of style from at least three theoretical frameworks.

  • Students learn to critically assess the concept of subculture from the broader framework of what constitutes dominant culture.

  • Students acquire knowledge about the visual arts and media that were important to subcultures from the 19th and 20th century.

  • Students learn to analyze how subcultures react to dominant culture and how they should be situated within cultural history and the history of art.

  • Students learn how to describe a contemporary artefact in terms of style.

  • Students learn to apply the theoretical frameworks and knowledge about subcultures from the past, to identify comparable present-day cultural developments as a form of subculture.

  • Students learn to give a group presentation on a visual object and learn to connect this to subcultures.

  • Students learn to connect a visual object to the scholarly literature on style and subculture and learn to choose an appropriate article to be submitted to the other students as preparatory reading material for their group presentation.

  • Students learn to combine their academic skills, theoretical insight and their visual literacy to write a critical essay on subcultures, to analyze artworks and to present this in ways that connect to a specific visual style.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • Group-presentation (mandatory practical assignment)

  • Midterm paper (writing a review) (30%)

  • Final paper (70%)


The weighted average of the (constituent) examinations must be at least 6.0 (= a pass). The mark for the final paper and the midterm paper must be at least 6.0 (= a pass).


A rewrite can be done in case of failing the midterm paper and/ or the final paper. In the case of failing or missing out on the group assignment, an alternative assignment should be requested at the Board of Examiners. As far as applicable all rewrite examinations take place at the same time, after the final (constituent) examination.

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.

Reading list

  • Miguel Escobar Varela. "Wayang Hip Hop: Java's Oldest Performance Tradition Meets Global Youth Culture", Asian Theatre Journal 31, 2 (2014):481-504.

  • Dick Hebdige. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London and New York; Routledge, 1979.

  • Adam de Paor-Evans. "The Intertextuality and Translations of Fine Art and Class in Hip-Hop Culture" Arts 7, 80 (2018):1-14.

  • Andrea Pinotti. ‘Formalism and the History of Style.’ in: Matthew Rampley et al. (eds.), Art History and Visual Studies in Europe. Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks. Leiden/ Boston: Brill 2012, pp. 75-90.

  • Eric D. Weitz. 'Culture and Mass Society.' in: Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy, Weimar Centennial Edition, 251-296. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

  • More literature will be announced weekly on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. A.K.C. Crucq


Not applicable.