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MA Dutch Golden Age

Jan Lutman the Elder (Rembrandt)

About the Course

The Dutch call the 17th century their country's "Golden Age," and with good reason: the Dutch Republic was then among the most important countries in Europe. An economic superpower, it built a far-flung colonial empire and achieved unmatched prosperity. Socially, it saw the rise of what is often called the first "bourgeois" society, dominated by merchants, not prelates or noblemen.

Politically it was an anomaly, a republic surrounded by absolutist regimes. In religion too the Netherlands stood out, being the most tolerant country in Europe, home to a wide variety of Christian denominations as well as Jews. The land of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and scores of other renowned painters, it produced artistic riches still treasured. With a flourishing literary and intellectual life, it provided a congenial environment for the rise of rationalism.

The MA in the Dutch Golden Age is designed to give students a thorough understanding of the history and culture of the Low Countries in the early modern period, focusing on the Dutch Republic during its seventeenth-century efflorescence. Jointly offered by UCL, King's College, and the Courtauld Institute, the programme draws on the full range of resources and expertise in London for study of this subject. Interdisciplinary, it combines three fields: history, art history, and Dutch language/literature. Students take a course in each of these fields over the autumn and spring terms. In addition, they attend a bi-weekly research skills seminar. In the third term and over the following summer, they write a dissertation that links the different fields covered in the taught courses. Most students take the programme full-time over one year (September to September), but the option also exists to take it part-time over two.

Why choose the MA?

London is the premiere centre in the English-speaking world for the study of Low Countries history and culture, including the Dutch Golden Age. Its resources in this field are truly extraordinary, including:

· Major collections of Dutch and Flemish art in seven museums, including top pieces by the great masters

· The largest collection of Dutch and Flemish books and pamphlets to be found anywhere outside the Low Countries; the British Library alone has some 17,500 17th-century Dutch imprints

· An abundance of largely unstudied Dutch manuscript sources in the National Archives

· The Low Countries Seminar at the Institute for Historical Research, where scholars from Britain and abroad present the findings of recent research

· The only Department of Dutch at a UK university, and a host of other experts ranged across London’s colleges and other institutions

Indicative module list

The following courses may run as part of the degree:

  • Dutch Genre Painting
  • Making and Meaning in 17th-century Netherlandish Art (Courtauld Institute of Art)
  • Bodies of Knowledge (Courtauld Institute of Art)
  • From Renaissance to Republic: The Netherlands c. 1555–1609
  • Paris and Amsterdam in the 17th Century (King's College)
  • Political Thought in Renaissance Europe
  • Signs, Mind and Society: Early Modern Theories of Language
  • The Body between Art and Science
  • Golden Age Kingship: Theory and Practice
  • Transformation of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe
  • Ritual in Early Modern Society (King's College)
  • New Perspectives in Early Modern Religion (King's College)
  • European Expansion: Ethnic Prejudices and Civil Rights (King's College)
  • Tranformations of the Self: Renaissance to Enlightenment (Queen Mary)
  • Material Culture of Domestic Life: European Households 1400–1800 (Royal Holloway)

Degree Structure

1. Research Skills Seminar (15 credits) (spring term)

2. Dutch Language and Literature (30 credits) (full-year course): students are put in one of three courses, depending on their level of competence in the Dutch language and of previous study

3. Dutch History or Art History (30 credits): either a full-year course or two one-term courses.  Either in Dutch history or Dutch art history.

4. A further optional course (15 credits): a one-term course selected from:

a) the Programme’s regular course offerings in Dutch history and Dutch art history – whichever of the two topics is not being covered under #3 above

b) a range of optional course units offered by other programmes. These courses must be on an aspect of early modern European history or culture and the course materials must not be restricted to a single country other than the Netherlands.

c) HISTGD02: a ‘Directed Readings Course’ supervised by one of the programme’s instructors focussing on a topic directly relevant to the MA that is not covered by any other course. To be assessed by one 4,000 word essay

5. Dissertation (90 credits): 15,000 words

Page last modified on 05 jan 15 15:17 by Joanna Fryer