What is this minor about?

This minor focusses on the tensions and conflicts between literature and the society in which it functions. Literary Studies engages strongly with the issue of Literature and Society, and especially with topics like Literature and Human Rights, Literature and Censorship, Literature as Protest, and Literature and Cultural Memory. In this minor you learn about the most important current debates in this field. By means of case studies you learn to see and explain the historical and theoretical connections between literature, law, religion, culture, and politics.

Goal

In this minor, you learn about the political and legal possibilities and problems of publishing literature (e.g. censorship) and become able to apply this knowledge in case studies, in which literature is used to create an image of the Past. You learn how literature may contribute to the development of Human Rights, and how these insights may help you interpret the role of literature in the current political debate. Each course contributes to your repertoire of important texts and studies and also to your research skills.

Preparing for a Master's programme

This minor provides a good preparation for the following Master's programme:

Courses

In this minor, you learn about the political and legal possibilities and problems of publishing literature (e.g. censorship) and become able to apply this knowledge in case studies, in which literature is used to create an image of the Past. You learn how literature may contribute to the development of Human Rights, and how these insights may help you interpret the role of literature in the current political debate. Each course contributes to your repertoire of important texts and studies and also to your research skills.

  • Banned Books. This course provides a survey of the conflict between literary creativity and control by society, in a wide historical, European context, from the first printing press to the 21th Century. A series of case-studies of controversial texts and authors is discussed in connection to the regulations imposed to suppress or regulate the distribution of these works. Official secular and religious censorship (like the catholic Index), the development of copyright, as well as protests against “inflammatory”, “blasfemic”, or “amoral” texts, are studied, through authors like Erasmus, Montaigne, Vondel, Spinozo, Stuart Mill, Nabokov and Rushdie. They used various literary strategies to avoid censorship and repression, like the use of metaphor, humor and satire, hiding their name, et cetera.
  • Contesting the Past. This course provides a follow-up to Banned Books (bl. 1). It examines the ways in which literature contributes to public debate about the meaning of the past. In particular, we will examine the role played by literature and film in dealing with divisive and painful memories.  Which cultural memories dominate our image of the past, and which events are suppressed? How does literature interact with other media in bringing marginalised stories to light? And in re-imagining the boundaries of nations?  We will address these questions through the comparative study of novels and movies dealing with civil war (Spain, Northern Ireland) and with the legacy of colonialism (France/Algeria, Netherlands-Indonesia).
  • Literature and Dissent. The relationship between art and politics is inextricably bound up with questions of domination and dissent. The autonomy of the work of art is measured in its ability to criticize the established order, even in the face of censorship and political and legal repercussions. In this course we will explore a range of literary and theoretical works, all of which are centrally concerned with the possibility or impossibility of resistance to state power and cultural hegemony. The course will look at acts of dissent in the context of the dominant geo-political moments of the 20th and 21st centuries, from the Third Reich to the Cold War, to late capitalism and the War on Terror. We will focus on the following questions: What is the relationship between dissident literature/art and other forms of political resistance? Can art bring about political change? What is the relationship between dissent, creativity, and innovation? What forms can dissent assume after the collapse of communism? How can we think of citizenship in terms of authorship?
  • Human Rights and Bildung. In this course, students are introduced to the concept of human rights from an interdisciplinary perspective. They read works of literature from African, American, Asian and  European contexts and relate these to human rights as a legal, historical and philosophical concept. Students are introduced to fundamental questions such as: What is the difference between moral and legal rights? What is the history of human rights as a legal concept? Are human rights universal? Works of literature are read as shaped by human rights discourses, and as reflecting on human rights, legal rights and the figure of the human in the modern world. During the course, students develop their own independent research projects on literature and human rights, or a concept related to human rights. 

Curriculum

The minor Literature in Conflict consists of 4 compulsory courses (30 EC).

Entry Requirements

Look carefully at the entry requirements of the courses and whether priority rules apply.

Application and registration

How to register for this minor and its course modules, depends on whether you are a student of Utrecht University or not.

Utrecht University students can register for a minor and the individual modules online via OSIRIS during the Faculty of Humanities course registration period. You must register for both the minor itself and each course module individually.

Courses with priority rules

If you wish to register for a course to which priority rules apply, make sure to register for both the course and the minor during the first two weeks of the course registration period. We will publish a list of courses with priority rules two weeks prior to the course registration period.

REGISTRATION STUDY RESULTS

Once you have completed the course modules, provided that you were enrolled for both the minor itself and each course module individually in OSIRIS, the minor and study results will be listed on your Study Progress Review.

Deviation standard programme

If you wish to deviate from the standard minor programme, you must request approval from the Board of Examiners of the Bachelor's programme that offers the minor.

Students from other Universities can register for the minor and each course module using the digital registration form during the Faculty of Humanities course registration period. Besides that we also need a Proof of Registration from your own educational instituion. Please send the form and the Proof of Registration -preferably via email- to the Student Desk Humanities.

Courses with priority rules

If you wish to register for a course to which priority rules apply, make sure to register for both the course and the minor during the first two weeks of the course registration period. We will publish a list of courses with priority rules two weeks prior to the course registration period.

Study results

Once you have completed the course modules with as passing result, you can apply for a list of grades (transcript) of the minor programme at the Student Desk Humanities.

More information

If you wish to know more, or have questions about this minor, please contact the Student Desk Humanities.