Seminar: The Nation on Display

The Nation on Display

Date: 15-29 October 2018

Deadline for applications: 14 July 2018

Course content
The relationship between museums, heritage and national identity has been under discussion in many European and non-European countries during the past years. In some prominent cases, these debates dealt with museums of national history, such as the ones in The Netherlands, where a national history museum proved a complete failure, and in France, where president Sarkozy launched his plan for a comprehensive Maison de l’Histoire de France in 2009, so far without any success. Proposals like these generated a lively debate and questioned the validity of old 19th century ‘master narratives’ representing the nation, notwithstanding today’s deeply changed situation, marked by immigration and multi-ethnicity. Alternatives like the House of European History (2017) have been exposed to, often competing, national sensitivities on the one hand, or have been subject to the criticism of being a mere assembly of national histories and yet another politically motivated project on the other. Though history museums might seem the most pressing case, the matter is no different for all other heritage collections originated within the national framework, whether dealing with art, ethnology, science, archeology, the military, food etc.

In this course, the phenomenon outlined above will be investigated in the city of Rome. As capital of the Italian nation-state since 1870, it has been the centre of a cultural politics in which both temporary exhibitions and permanent museums have played a crucial part, displaying, celebrating and thus legitimizing the nation in its manifold and, mostly materialized, manifestations. However, even before the Italian nation-state came into being, the formation of national collections was far from harmonious and uniform. The relatively recent and highly contested process of nation and state building was reflected in the debates on all kinds of heritage and their presentation to the public. Furthermore, in the city of Rome in particular, ‘universal’ associations evoked by both Christian and classical heritage have called these national aspirations into question. Nowadays debates show that these issues are no less pressing in 2018. For these reasons, the case of the Eternal City offers an outstanding opportunity to study the connections between modern museums and national identity and put them to the test. In an intensive 14-day seminar, we will investigate this fascinating theme by combining theoretical and historiographical insights with the study of primary sources and many on-site visits in Rome and meetings with experts in the field.

dr. Asker Pelgrom (KNIR) and guest lecturers

Target group and admission
The course is open to a maximum of 12 selected (PhD-) students in museum studies, history, heritage studies, cultural studies or related disciplines at MA, RMA or PhD level from KNIR partner universities (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit Utrecht, Radboud Universiteit, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen).

Course format and assignments
The course is organized by and hosted at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR). It consists of an two-week intensive seminar period in Rome, with lectures, on-site visits and discussions. During the seminar, each participant delivers an oral presentation in situ on a museum of her/his choice. Before and after the seminar participating students work independently on two written assignments:
– an written preparatory assignment (1.500 words), deadline 6 October 2018 h
– a concluding essay (5.000 words), deadline 18 November 18.00 h

Credits and assessment
The study load is the equivalent of 6 ECTS (168 hours). Each student should arrange with his/her home coordinator whether the course can be a part of the existing curriculum. After successful completion of the course the KNIR provides a certificate mentioning study load and evaluation.
The study load is based on:
a) Before the seminar in Rome, independent study of course material and preparatory assignment: 1 ECTS (28 hours)
b) Intensive seminar in Rome (14 days): active participation, oral presentation and essay proposal: 4 ECTS (112 hours)
c) After the seminar: essay of 5.000 words: 1 ECTS (28 hours)
Assessment takes place on the basis of preparatory assignment, based on the study of course material (20%), active participation and on-site presentation (30%), and the concluding essay (50%).

Tuition and lodging at the KNIR is free for selected participants from the above mentioned Dutch universities. Personal expenses, including meals, are not included. Students receive a €100 reimbursement of their expenses for travelling to Rome after submission of their final essay.

Facilities in Rome
All participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical center of Rome. The KNIR accommodation consists of shared bedrooms and bathrooms, and includes a living and dining space, a large kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and gardens of the Royal Netherlands Institute.

Apply before
14 July 2018 via the link below, submitting a motivation letter, a recent C.V. and an updated overview of study results.

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621