Research Seminar Heritage and Public History

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Doel vak

On completing this research seminar, students are able to:

1. Understand some of the key debates in heritage and public history
2. Understand the role of heritage and memory, and other public
institutions in shaping our relationship to the past
3. identify, understand and explain the different concepts and theories
relevant the fields of heritage and public history.
4. distinguish and discuss the different scholarly approaches explored
within the research seminar, and take up an informed position in
(sensitive) academic debates in their field of study
5. set up, carry out and present a small research project on a topic
related to the seminar’s field of study
6. select, analyze and interpret a set of primary sources relevant to
the research seminar’s field of study
7. report on their own research in a structured and attractive manner,
substantiating arguments with empirical evidence.

Inhoud vak

History and heritage have, arguably, become more public now more than
ever. As disciplines, they have long moved beyond the confines of
established institutions or the practices of professionally trained
experts. Indeed, the historians of today must contend with a growing
number of sources from which the public gain their knowledge about the
past, from popular history books and films to museums and historic
sites. A similar trend can be seen with the field of heritage, which has
also grown beyond the normative disciplines, structures and discourses
that define or authorise what heritage is, or what can be regarded as
the heritage of a group of people or a nation.

In this new publicness, both fields have become increasingly entangled
with shifting social and political structures and milieus, with growing
contestation from diverse circles, including activists and grass roots
organisations alike, about how histories and heritage are made and
interpreted, what constitutes their practices, their protagonists,
archives and institutions. Within the Netherlands of today, indeed
across the world, many of these public reckonings with history and with
heritage have been informed by (renewed) attention to how to tell the
story of the colonial, WWII and other contested pasts, and how such
pasts shape our present. These discussions are also increasingly been
shaped by (trans)national social movements – for example those
congregate under the umbrella of Decolonise – that are increasingly
networked through social media.

Taking these shifts as backdrop, this research seminar in Heritage and
Public History will introduces students to some of the main methods,
practices and major debates within heritage and public history today. We
will explore how nations remember difficult or contested pasts; the role
of (inter)national heritage governance and grass roots organisations, or
transnational networks, in shaping our relationship with the past.
Moreover, we will explore the role histories of migration play in
shaping such debates and our relationship to the past or what is
understood as heritage?


Lectures, seminars, excursions, individual writing and research.

- During term 4 and 5, once a week, 3 hours.
- Lecturers may opt for one lecture-free week (e.g. to complete an
assignment) in term 4, and one in term 5.
- In period 6, students work individually towards a research paper.
- Lecturers meet with the student during week 2 or 3 of term 6 for


A. Class participation (10% - optional)
B. Research paper (20%)
C. Portfolio (50-60%))
- Portfolios should consist of 3/4 assignments (500 to 750 words each,
i.e. 10% of final grade per assignment). Only the research pitch (end of
term 5) is mandatory for all research seminars and functions as a
midterm exam
- possible portfolio assignments are:
1. primary source analysis (e.g. archival source, egodocument, monument)
2. summary of a scholarly debate based on ca. 100 pages of literature
3. blog style article
4. class debate preparation (inlc. a thesis/proposition, arguments for
and against)
5. position paper
6. peer review of other students work
7. article review
8. exhibit review
9. book review (counts towards 2 assignments, or 20%)
10.working visit report (of an excursion to an archive, a museum etc.)
11.research pitch (5 slides, and in-class presentation including
conceptual, methodological discussion and an annotated literature list) data-analysis assignment


The readings for the course will comprise articles and book chapters,
organized around different themes and organized in two different blocks
What Nations Remember and Ethics of Memory [to follow].

Overige informatie

Course load (1ec = 28 hours)
- Contact hours (2x7x3 hours): 42 hours
- Mandatory reading (6 pp./hour; +/- 40 pp/week) 98 hours = 588 p
- Portfolio assignments (8 hours/assignment): 32 hours
- Research paper (3000 words) : 80 hours based on 240 pages own
literature and c. 200 pp course literature and the analysis of primary
material (objects, images, monuments, manuscript, print)

Total course load: 252 hours

Aanbevolen voorkennis

The course will be at 300 level and is a reading intensive course. It is
part of the Heritage, History and Memory specialization track of the
History programme. Participants should have a background in 20th century
history and/or heritage studies. International exchange students are
welcome on receiving permission from the course coordinator.

Algemene informatie

Vakcode L_GABAGES319
Studiepunten 9 EC
Periode P4+5
Vakniveau 300
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. W.A.H. Modest
Examinator dr. W.A.H. Modest
Docenten prof. dr. S. Legene
dr. W.A.H. Modest
prof. dr. R.B. ter Haar Romeny

Praktische informatie

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