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Cultural & Visual Analysis




Admissions requirements



How do we ‘read’ cultural productions? What do literary writing, films, visual art, photography and other forms of creative expression have in common, and how can they be interpreted in dialogue with public discourses? How do these practices of ‘world-making’ and reflecting on social structures dovetail with social debates and questions of ethics and politics in the world of today?

Such questions, amongst others, are the focus of this course, which continues the foundational course ‘What is Culture?’ and prepares students for a more advanced study of narrative and visual cultural practices. Our readings and discussions concentrate on the development of insights into the construction of fiction and of non-fiction, films and documentaries, artworks and photography, as well as into the theoretical and critical strategies we can use to comprehend and reflect on the content and form of these ‘texts.’ We will consider the ways in which cultural theory advances a critical analysis of such artifacts. Theory and artworks are read in dialogue.

Thematically, the course raises questions of social justice and hegemony, the place of politics at the interstices of the individual and community, the particular and the general, while focusing on intercultural encounters. We will use material from diverse social contexts such as the European and North American, as well as from the Latin American context.

Course objectives


  • inquiry into the role and function of art and literature in the social and the political,

  • identification of key concepts in textual and visual analysis,

  • application of adequate theoretical concepts and methods in the analysis of written and visual texts,

  • critical interpretation and evaluation of written and visual texts in their cultural contexts,


  • group work

  • presentation skills

  • analytical skills

  • academic writing


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of two-hour interactive seminars, comprising lectures, presentations, discussion, and practical exercises. Students are expected to come prepared to class and to participate actively in discussions.


10%; participation
20%; group presentation
30%; two analytical exercises focusing on two different art forms (15% each, one consist of a vlog of 5-7 minutes and the other of a written essay of 800 words)
40%; final paper (2000 -2500 words, not including bibliography and notes)

  • in accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • there is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Books to purchase:

  • Dermoût, Maria. The Ten Thousand Things, New York Review of Books, 2002.

  • Santos, Mayra. Sirena Selena. A Novel. New York: 2000.

  • Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus, Penguin Books, Ltd, 2003.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact