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Medieval and Early Modern Studies: Fabulous Findings: Searching the Past in Pre-Modern Europe


Admission requirements

Passive understanding (reading knowledge) of Dutch


Faboulous finding — or fabrication? Leading Dutch intellectuals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries supposed the medieval Leiden Burcht (built as a refuge against high water) to be part of the Roman fortifications along the Rhine. Thus, a direct and material link between the young Dutch Republic and the exemplary Roman heritage was conveniently established. The notion of “prehistory” held a great attraction to scholars, politicians and visual artists in this period. Poets, painters and antiquarians looked to the most distant past for the vanishing point that would focus their historical perspective on their own identity and heritage, and orient them towards the future in an age of increasing change and anxiety. In this pursuit, they often had to let their imagination prevail over fact-based interpretation. Though speculative, their efforts reveal much about intellectual and visual culture in pre-modern Europe.

In this course, we will examine the various representations, in both textual and visual forms, of the finding (and fabrication) of this “national” past. We will mainly focus on poets, painters, antiquarians and architects from the Netherlands and Britain; however, contributions on other parts of Europe are warmly welcomed.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • gain insight in the academic debates on antiquarianism and (national) identity

  • be able to understand and analyse various scholarly perspectives and methods

  • further develop their research skills


See the timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

Course Load

10 EC = 280 hours

  • seminars: 13 × 2 = 26 hours

  • reading and preparing classes: 13 × 4 = 52 hours

  • time to research and write paper: 202 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and grading method (in percentages):.

  • reviews of compulsory literature (10%)

  • presentation (20%)

  • paper (70%)

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 (7000 words including bibliography instead of 5000 words).

Re-examination via the final paper


Blackboard will be used

Reading list

  • Graham Parry, Trophies of Time. English Antiquarians in Seventeenth Century England. Oxford 2007.

  • Hugo Grotius, The Antiquity of the Batavian Republic. With the notes by Petrus Scriverius.
    Ed. Jan Waszink. Assen 2000.

Additional literature (electronically or otherwise available)


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr M. Keblusek
(office: Huizinga Building, room 1.20A)

Dr. O. van Marion
(office: P.N. van Eyckhof 1, room 202C)