political arts at LUC The Hague

In the early stages of the development of the political arts initiative, we were especially fortunate that the dynamic and talented staff and students of LUC The Hague, Leiden University's International Honours College, showed an immediate interest in exploring the creative and performative aspects of the political. Hence, LUC established a series of partnerships with leading cultural institutions, such as the Royal Conservatoire and the Academic of Creative & Performing Arts in The Hague.

Together, these partners collaborated to offer a revolutionary curriculum in the Political Arts at LUC The Hague. Beginning as a minor in 2011, it became a full major in 2012. Students could take a complete major (80 European Credits) or could supplement their studies in Global Justice, World Politics, International Development, Sustainability, or Human Interaction with a minor (30 European Credits) in Political Arts. Particularly exciting was the opportunity for LUC students to compose an original capstone project in the Political Arts, which could be anything from a composition or an installation to a performance.

political arts major (2011-2016)

The Political Arts major at LUC was available for students matriculating between 2010/11 and 2013/14. It explored the ways in which dance, drama, film, literature, music, performance, photography, poetry, rhetoric, and the practical and creative arts interleave with political life, either as vehicles for criticism, elaboration, theorisation, intervention, or activism. Interrogating definitions and boundaries of the political, students of this major inspected the communicative, reflexive, and transformative aspects of individual and collective political agency. Since they took performance and artistic practice seriously as modes of scholarship, students of this major aimed to dismantle the disciplinary edifices of the traditional university and discover new insights into what it means to be a political animal as a human being.

In a pioneering collaboration on the undergraduate level with the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) and the Royal Conservatory (KC) in The Hague, as well as the Academy for Creative and Performing Arts in Leiden, this LUC major offered students a diversity of investigatory trajectories: those who entered LUC with high proficiency in performance could continue to hone their practical talents at the KABK or KC, while joining those who concentrate on the philosophical aspects of political and visual aesthetics, phenomenology, semiotics, and communication, thus bringing practice into constant and dynamic dialogue with theory.

Knowledge, especially of ourselves as political beings, requires the confluence of participation and reception – from the musical to the theatrical, from the literary to the journalistic, students also reflected on the ontological, ethical, and political status of art, artefact, and artistry.

Graduates from this major could expect to be primed for masters programmes in artistic research from the KABK in The Hague and the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, to the Science Po in Paris, as well as for interdisciplinary PhD programmes worldwide, from the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley, to research programmes in the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University (with whom we ran a fantastic summer school in 2012). Career trajectories in the creative and performance industry, either front-of-stage or in artistic administration, are also distinct ponderables – our very first graduate went on to the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

utopia at the heart of pai

The Political Arts Initiative grew out of Chris Goto-Jones's 'VICI' research project funded by the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research), 'Beyond Utopia.' The project focuses on exploring visual and interactive media in contemporary Japan and investigating their intersections with political philosophy. It is tightly linked with Asiascape, a research coalition on East Asian cyberculture and animanga.
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