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Cultures of Collecting: Early Modern Cultures of Collecting


Admission requirements

See MA Arts and Culture program guide and Exam regulations


This course is part of the MA specialization Museums and Collections, and will introduce students to the history and theory of early modern collections and collecting cultures.

In the early modern period, Kunst- & Wunderkammern and other collections of naturalia and artificialia were crucial in the shaping and transmission of knowledge. We will discuss key concepts (such as “wonder” and “curiosity”) and look at contemporary sources pertinent to research on collecting history. We will focus more particularly on the visual images of collections and objects of knowledge and their conceptual, historical and iconographical meanings and functions.

Course objectives

  • Students can demonstrate an understanding of the history and theory of early modern collecting;

  • Students will understand and trace the development in the visualisation of collections and objects of knowledge;

  • Students will be able to formulate a set of research questions and hypotheses on a chosen subject;

  • Students will present their research in both a presentation and research paper.


Please consult the timetable on the MA Arts and Culture website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar meetings abd (t.b.a.) excursion.

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 10 EC (= 280 hours):

  • Attending seminar: 14 × 2 = 28 hours

  • Preparation seminar (incl. reading): 8 × 14 = 104 hours

  • Research and writing paper: 148 hrs

Assessment method

  • presentation: 20%;

  • paper, 6000 words: 80%.


Blackboard will be used throughout this course.

Reading list

  • Susan Dackerman (ed.), Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, New Haven & London 2011

  • Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge, Routledge: London & New York 1992 and reprints

Additional literature will be announced during the course and be available electronically.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: Please see the website Study in Leiden for information on how to apply/register for this course.

Students who are not in the MA Arts and Culture programme, but who would like to take this course as an optional course, please contact Mrs. Joëlle Koning MA the co-ordinator of studies.

Contact information

Dr. M. (Marika) Keblusek