Literature, Culture and Society


Course Objective

This course trains students in the close reading of, and critical
reflection on, literary and critical texts from a variety of national,
cultural and historical backgrounds, and from diverse disciplinary
angles. Students learn about social and academic debates regarding the
relationship between literature and society. Students practice with
written and verbal presentations of their own research. Students learn
how to provide their peers with constructive feedback.

Course Content

For centuries, literary and other cultural texts have changed the way
people think and look at the world. They reveal social injustices and
societal ills, offering ideas and ammunition for social change, thereby
helping people to imagine different, better realities. A single text may
trigger an individual’s struggle for emancipation, but also that of a
group or a nation. This course will explore the important ways in which
literary texts have contributed to societal change and have liberated
people throughout the centuries up to the present.

The texts we discuss have instigated individual readers as well as
collectivities to discover and become aware of injustices, unfairness
and abuse. This course analyzes that process, using the following
questions as leading threads in the discussions: Which rhetorical
strategies employed in the texts evoke the readers’ empathy and possible
agency? How do the texts simultaneously assist in emboldening the
reader, strengthening an emerging community, and gaining acceptance from
a wider audience? In which way do they balance realities that are
already being lived and imagined possibilities that have yet to
materialize? How do they interact with other expressions of the struggle
for emancipation, by way of imitation, opposition, appropriation? And,
finally, how do they function within the communities that they have
helped found, how are they remembered, recreated, redefined, and to
which purposes?

Teaching Methods

Students and instructor meet three times per week:
First session: introductory lecture (two hours);
Second session: seminar in which students and instructor discuss and
close-read (two hours);
Third session: excursion OR film viewing and discussion OR group
presentations OR group work (two hours).

Method of Assessment

Participation 30% (including class participation; group presentation;
Canvas posts)
Written exam 40%
Final report or essay 30%
Students will receive credits for the course if their grade for the
written exam is 5.5 or higher. They are not allowed to compensate an
exam grade that is below 5.5 with other partial grades.

Entry Requirements

Students must also take (or have taken) part in one of two other
modules: either (1) “Literary Theory” (or its Dutch equivalent
“Literatuurwetenschap”); or (2) “Transatlantic Travel Writing.”


Primary and secondary sources; to be announced on Canvas.

Target Audience

First year students of Literature & Society: English; first year
students of Literatuur & Samenleving: Nederlands; exchange students.

Additional Information

This course is obligatory in the first year. Attendance required: 80%
(including lectures, seminars, practicums). Students who miss more than
20% will not receive credits for the course.

Custom Course Registration

Sign up procedure: There is a slightly different enrollment procedure for this module. The standard procedure of the Faculty of Humanities has students sign up for (i) the module, (ii) the form of tuition (lecture and/or preferred seminar group), and (iii) the exam. However, for this module the instructor will assign the students to the seminar groups. Therefore, students should sign up for (i) the module, (ii) the lectures, and (iii) the exam, but not for the seminar groups.

General Information

Course Code L_ALBALES101
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 100
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. B. Boter
Examiner dr. B. Boter
Teaching Staff dr. B. Boter

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Practical, Seminar*

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: