Imagining the Dutch: themes in Dutch History

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Doel vak

The main aim of this course is to familiarize an international group of
students coming from different educational backgrounds with the most
essential aspects of the history of the Netherlands. Students will also
be taught on how to connect Dutch history with a number of present-day
debates, academic as well as non-academic. Students will be required to
relate the course themes with debates on identity, nationalism, the role
of the media, democracy, tolerance and national consciousness. They will
also learn how to connect these themes and debates with different
representations of aspects of Dutch history in the media and in museums.
Not all participating students are history students, and this course
will also introduce several concepts of history as an academic
discipline, by discussing several branches within the field, such as
political history, colonial history or national history. After taking
this course, students will be able to recognize normative thinking in
scientific literature and in the work of historians. Students will also
learn how to read and summarize academic writing, and how to use
scientific literature in debate. The course also addresses the
problematic nature of obtaining historical information from internet
resources. Students will be demanded to integrate their own reading with
the different lectures. It is considered crucial to adopt a critical
stance, which is why the course opens with a debate on stereotypes.

Inhoud vak

The perception of the Netherlands at home and abroad includes several
stereotypes. It is a country of cheese and herring, of windmills and
coffeeshops, of clogs and canals. It is also a country characterized by
tolerance, a consensus democracy and pillarization. Historically, the
small nation of the Dutch Republic has experienced a Golden Age in the
seventeenth century, during which time it was a ‘world power’, leading
to economic prosperity, but it was also a time in which the foundations
were laid for a colonial system that persisted until the twentieth
century. Perceptions and images of the Netherlands by foreigners and
Dutch citizens themselves tell a story of the Netherlands, as they are
informed by both past and contemporary experiences. In different time
periods, stereotypes and ideas about ‘the Dutch’ and ‘Dutchness’ have
been invoked to consider the Netherlands as an example to follow, but
they have also been questioned about their truthfulness. Who were/are
‘the Dutch’? What is ‘typically Dutch’ about the Dutch from an
international perspective? What are the differences between how the
Dutch themselves and how foreigners have imagined the Netherlands? And
how should we deal with these images from an academic perspective? These
questions form the starting point on this English-language introductory
course on Dutch history. The lectures of the course focus on a variety
of relevant themes in different time periods and cover a wide range of
topics. Some of the themes that will be discussed are
• The historical reasons for the extraordinary economic growth and
cultural richness of the Netherlands in the 17th century
• The further development of the Dutch as a maritime nation and colonial
nation in the 18th century
• The rise of democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries
• The Dutch experience of WWII
• Recent debates about the colonial past and immigration
Discussion among students about the content of the lectures and the
course literature is part of this course, which is specifically designed
to connect history with contemporary issues.


There is a lecture once a week (1h45). All the thematic lectures will be
given by guest professors, all active at the VU's History Department.
Presence in class is mandatory. Students who have a reason to be absent
have to inform the course's coordinator in time of their absence, which
is limited to a maximum of two times, after which the student can be
penalized with exclusion.


There are two written assignments (25%), as well as a written exam


Friso Wielenga, A History of the Netherlands. From the Sixteenth Century
to the Present Day (London: Bloomsbury, 2015) ISBN 9781472569592
Next to Wielenga's handbook, students will be asked to read articles or
book chapters related to each theme, which will be posted on Canvas in
due time.


Students taking part in the program 'A Semester in Amsterdam';
International Students; Dutch students interested in Dutch History.

Overige informatie

This course will be provided two times: in periods 1&2 (L_GCBAALG003)
and in periods 4&5 (L_GCBAALG004).

Algemene informatie

Vakcode L_GCBAALG003
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P1+2
Vakniveau 200
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. T.A.E.R. Vanneste
Examinator dr. T.A.E.R. Vanneste
Docenten dr. T.A.E.R. Vanneste

Praktische informatie

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