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Cultural & Visual Analysis


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

For CHS students: What is Culture?


How do we ‘read’ cultural productions? What do paintings, photographs, films and other cultural constructs have in common and how do they differ from each other? How do they create meaning and how can they be interpreted as part of wider public discourses? How do museums frame and influence our interpretation of the works of art that they present, and how can we read streets, squares and the statues in them in terms of social and political dynamics? These questions, among others, are the focus of this course, which prepares students for a more advanced study of visual and cultural practices.

Our readings and discussions will concentrate on a wide range of themes, genres, contexts, agents and discourses as well as a number of specific cultural constructs, ranging from 17th-century Japanese prints to images relating to the Black Lives Matter movement and from political cartoons from the 1930s to the Iñupiaq videogame Never Alone (2014). This main focus of this course is on developing, to use John Berger’s phrase, ‘ways of seeing’ and learning the skills to analyze different cultural constructs and the different dynamics involved in their production of meaning. However, the course does have a theoretical component: we will read a number of theoretical texts and discuss which methods and strategies they offer us to analyze cultural constructs and their role in the societies that created them.

Course Objectives


  • Understand the dynamics of a cultural/visual communication model

  • Understand the role and function of visual/cultural constructs in social and political discourses,

  • Identify key concepts in cultural and visual analysis.


  • Provide a complex analysis of cultural/visual constructs,

  • Analyze critical interpretations and evaluations of cultural constructs,

  • Apply theoretical concepts and methods in the analysis of cultural/visual constructs,

  • Describe such an analysis in different genres (academic essay and vlog),

  • Write a critical literature review,

  • Write an effective methodology section.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of two-hour seminars, comprising interactive lectures, discussions and practical exercises. Students are expected to come prepared to class and to participate actively in discussions.

Assessment Method

  • Participation 10%

  • CLR assignment 25%

  • Vlog assignment 30%*

  • Final paper (1500 words) 35%

Note that even though this is a team assignment, students will be graded individually.

Please note that all assignments need to be submitted in order to pass the course and that penalties will apply to work that is handed in after the deadline.

Reading list

This course includes a number of readings as well as a number of documentaries, films, and games that students need to watch before class. A detailed list will be provided in the syllabus before the start of the course. The course will not require you to buy any books: all books and articles will be available via Leiden University Library’s digital catalogue or, in some cases, Brightspace.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Jacqueline Hylkema,