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War and Remembrance


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Humanities Lab
If you have received your propaedeutic diploma within one academic year, your academic results are good and you are a very motivated student, you may apply for a place in the Humanities Lab.


Fortunately, few of us have experienced war and warfare first hand. Perhaps your grandparents have and they may have given oral accounts of 'the old days'. However, what we know or think we know about war is most likely to be the product of media such as war movies, novels, images, museums, memorials and commemorative rituals. This module is about the way we remember war, how this memory is produced and for which political, ideological and other goals it is generated. How does 'collective memory' – if there is such a thing – relate to experience, historiography and (national) identity? And in what way is individual memory shaped by the dominant cultural representations of the past? In the course of six weeks we will look at several important armed conflicts of the wider 20th Century, such as the First and Second World War, the Indonesian War of Independence and the Vietnam War and analyse the way they have been remembered through the prism provided by various media.

Within six weeks, you will be familiar with some basic concepts and issues in Cultural Memory Studies, and you will start your own research in a case of cultural memory from your own country, background or area of study, and write an academic paper on your findings.

Course objectives

After finishing this course, you will:

  • Understand the theory of memory vs. historiography

  • Be able to analyze cultural (re-) constructions and representations of war

  • Be able to draw conclusions on the functions and effects of cultural memory of war, using the appropriate theory

  • Be able to set up a research into cultural memory and write an academic paper about it.


Courses of the Humanities Lab are scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.00 to 17.00.
For the exact timetable, please visit the following website.

Mode of instruction

a. Plenary (guest)lectures
b. Seminars
c. Two day excursion to the Ypres (Belgium) to visit the battlefields and memorials of World War I.
d. Literature study

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC (140 hours):

  • Seminars: 7 × 4 hours (plus the extra time involved in the excursion)

  • Reading for class preparation: 28 hours

  • Preparing for presentations: 28 hours

  • Writing and revising of paper (including proposal): 56 hours.

Assessment method

a. Individual assignment: an academic paper of 3.000 – 3.500 words
b. Individual presentation
c. Two group presentations (one during the excursion)

The academic paper will make up 70 percent of the final grade, which has to be a 6 minimum. The remaining 30 percent will be the average of the presentations and overall participation during class. The paper needs to be graded with a 6 minimum. If the final grade is insufficient there is the possibility of retaking the final essay.


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursion). If you are unable to attend due to circumstances beyond your control, notify the Humanities Lab coordinators in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence, and hand in your weekly assignment in writing to the lecturer (if applicable). Being absent without notification and valid reason may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.

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 have to be organized.


Brightspace will be used for communication.

Reading list

We will read works on cultural memory by Jan and Aleida Assman, Jay Winter, James E. Young and others. Most of these will be made available through Brightspace.


Students of the Humanities Lab will be registered via uSis by the administration of the Humanities Lab. More information about registration for courses will be provided on Brightspace.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


Lecturer: Dr. Thijs Brocades Zaalberg
Humanities Lab office: e-mail


This course is part of the Humanities Lab programme, visit the website for more information.
Visit the Honours Academy website for more information about the Honours College.