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Topical Course Art and Technology


Admission requirements

Admission requirements for the BA AMS. 2nd year students AMS


The idea of an autonomous, individual identity is often seen as a Western invention, stemming from the Enlightenment period. Traditional ideas about human identity have been essentialist, assuming clear distinctions between the human species and other animal species on the one hand – based on our self-awareness – and between the human species and men-made machines on the other – based on an essentialist dichotomy between the natural and the artificial.

New developments in technology, science and cultural studies are rapidly changing our ideas of what it means to be human, leading to interesting debates within the Humanities. This course sets out to discuss novel ways in which we view ourselves as humans. It brings together aspects from biology, technology, science, culture and art to complicate the deceivingly simple category of the ‘natural human’. When do methods of tempering with our DNA and bodies or enhancing ourselves with technology start to make us artificial? Are we artificially creating new subspecies and genders? Are our fears of genetic manipulation and the rise of the cyborg endangering our core human nature justified?

To explore these issues a number of topics will be chosen, each highlighting aspects of the debate. For each of the topics reading material is provided on Blackboard, in the form of articles and book chapters, to be discussed together during the seminars. Since artists often reflect on these topics in critical ways, the course approaches the different issues from the perspective of important artworks, which address these issues. In addition to the group discussions and presentations, an excursion to a relevant exhibition might be included (dependent on the available exhibitions), in order to familiarize ourselves with the current work within this field.

Course objectives

At the end of the course:

  • Students have obtained a thorough insight in the contemporary debates on the human identity related to cultural practices;

  • Students have obtained introductory knowledge of relevant developments in the fields of biology, technology, digitization and cultural studies, all with respect to questions about human identity

  • Students have learned to problematize these theoretical positions and on the basis of these insights will be able to formulate relevant research questions;

  • Students have become acquainted with some important contemporary art works, films and novels, critically exploring the topic of human identity;

  • Students are able to initiate and execute a research project on a particular (cultural) case study, in which they position themselves critically in contemporary scholarly debates, and in which they explicitly frame their own reading/approach.


For further details see the timetable of Arts Media and Society

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture Course

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 5 x 28 hours= 140 EC, broken down by:

  • 24 hours: spent on attending lectures and seminars: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks

  • 60 hours: time for studying the compulsory literature (8 to 10 pages per hour, depending on difficulty) and writing webposts: 5 hours per week x 12 weeks

  • 6 hours: preparing presentation (excluding reading, which is covered above)

  • 50 hours: time to write essay and portfolio (including reading / research)

Assessment method

  • Poster presentation of article from reading material (20%)

  • Weekly webposts, collected at the end of the course in a portfolio (20%)

  • Overall participation in seminar discussions (10%)

  • Presentation of own research and final paper of 3000 words, excluding bibliography and notes (50%)

Compensation: The weighted average of the (constituent) examinations must be at least 6.0 (= a pass). The mark for the final examination (or the main assignment) must be at least 6.0 at (= a pass). The mark for all other constituent examinations must be at least 6.0 (= a pass). However, it is possible to compensate for one constituent examination a 5.0 (but not a mark lower than 5.0) with the grade of another constituent examination which has the same weight in the average as the constituent examination it compensates.

Resit: 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.

Exam review: 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 be organized.


Blackboard will be used for communication, submission of assignments and distribution of reading material.

Reading list

Relevant texts will be made available through Blackboard.


Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. L.M.F. (Laura) Bertens