This course deals with contemporary public debates and the ways in which research in the humanities can engage with these debates. Because it aims to stay current, its subject matter shifts from year to year. In the past few years, this course has focused on the financial crisis, digitalization, cultural heritage, religious conflict, and the controversies on immigration and cultural integration. This year’s theme is “inclusion/exclusion”, focusing on “appropriation” in particular.
Discussions about inclusion, or the lack of it, take centre stage in academia and in societies at large. In this spring of 2021, marked not only by the worldwide struggle and varying strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also by renewed activism in many countries inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, such debates are even more pressing than before.
In addition, worldwide protest movements demand attention for growing economic inequality and those who miss out on the advantages of globalization; political parties advocate the protection of the domestic economy over the global market (‘America first’) and of local culture over cosmopolitanism and cultural influences from outside; appropriation of both material and immaterial cultural heritage serves contemporary claims and agendas; in literature and visual arts polemical exchanges take place about who is entitled to create what and how - and who is not; overtourism poses a threat to cultural and natural ecosystems and forces destinations to drastically rethink how they organize their tourist industries.
The debates surrounding these developments have had their impact on research in the humanities, and inclusion and exclusion have become important research topics within historical, literary and cultural studies. The course will focus on three interrelated issues in inclusion-exclusion-appropriation debates, each approaching the theme from a different (historical, literary and cultural studies) angle.
Through these three perspectives, students will develop strategies that enable active participation as academics in shaping the society in which they live.