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Seminar BA2: Vulgar Arts


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 commenting on 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

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the sociopolitical divergences/convergences of vulgarity across diverse cultures.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • propose alternatives to the main theories of kitsch, abject, porn, profanation, and humor;

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

  • collaboratively present and orally analyze a pertinent case on vulgarity;

  • write an individual essay on vulgar arts.


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 (midterm)

  • Research paper


  • Student-led seminar: 30%

  • Research paper: 70%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average. To pass the course, the weighted average of the partial grades must be 5.5 or higher.


If the final mark is below 5.5 rewrite can be done for the research paper.

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

Study material will be announced on Brightspace before 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


Not applicable