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Seminar BA2: Vulgar Art


Admission requirements

The following courses need to be passed:

  • Freshman's Class

  • Academic Skills II


While understanding beauty commonly signifies intellectual refinement, appreciating ugliness reflects cultural vulgarity or lack of good taste. Imagine this scenario: you are in an art gallery with your friends, surrounded by obscene artworks that unsettle your gaze. In this situation, while making a comment about the artwork can render you an aesthete, connoisseur, or arbiter of taste, it can also make you a vulgar, pervert, or tasteless person. What makes an artwork ugly or beautiful, worthy of praise or condemnation, therefore, has to do with the dominant politics and aesthetics of taste in the era in which we live. This course examines why vulgar arts have been continuously represented, appreciated, and preserved across the globe. To do this, it delves deep into vulgarity through its common global manifestations, such as: kitsch, pornography, abjection, profanation, and humor.

Course objectives


  • will learn to identify the divergences/convergences of ugliness and beauty across diverse cultures;

  • can give an overview of the main arguments and debates on taste in the field of aesthetics;

  • acquire an in-depth knowledge of the main theories of kitsch, abject, porn, profanation, and humor;

  • can analyze and critically reflect on dominant transgressive and aberrant artistic discourses;

  • can identify and present a pertinent case study about vulgarity via multimedia material.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Important: attendance in seminar sessions and excursions is mandatory! In case of no-show, the tutor should be informed by e-mail about your absence and the reason prior to the actual seminar session. Moreover, this course cannot be successfully completed by students that were absent more than twice. Only in exceptional cases, the Examination Committee may consider the possibility of an additional or substitute assignment. See also the Course and Examination Regulations.

Assessment method


  • Student-led seminar

  • Research paper


The final grade is established by the weighted average of all grades; additional requirement: all grades ought to be sufficient (= 6). You can resit the component(s) that you have failed.

  • Student-led seminar: 30%

  • Research paper: 70%


A resit/ rewrite can be done for constituent examinations which are failed. As far as applicable all resits/ rewrites 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

Literature will be announced on Brightspace prior to the start of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.
For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal