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Discover the story behind the story

If you choose Literature and Society at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you won't just be reading books.

Of course, you'll learn to read critically and to apply a range of theoretical perspectives - from structuralism and post-modernism to feminism and post-colonialism. But you'll also study literature's visual language: film, television series, comics, illustrations and more. 19th Century novels were often illustrated and Game of Thrones fans have undoubtedly read the books and watched the HBO series - and the one inevitably impacts the other.

From a societal perspective, you'll examine why some books have entered the literary canon and others have been marginalised - and the culture that has promoted that difference. In fact, questioning the culture around you will become a key part of your lexicon: you'll become more self-reflexive, questioning where your opinions originate, as well as broader issues like political oppression and your involvement in it.

Literature and Society isn't only about reading - it's about writing, too. Writing well academically, but also writing creatively: finding your own voice, learning how to give and receive feedback on your work, and getting an understanding of the publishing process.

The VU's programme is fully in English, which means it attracts as many international students as it does Dutch students. Uniquely in the Netherlands, it focuses on literature, with only a small linguistic component. It's a programme for avid readers and critical thinkers: for all those who want to understand the story behind the story - in society as in literature.

The start date of this programme is September 1st.

Facts and Figures

First year

In your first year, you'll learn close reading techniques, research skills and how to write academic English. Plus, you'll get an overview of the main literary theories. You'll read a broad range of classic literature - from Shakespeare's 'Romeo & Juliet' (studying the films as well as the play) to Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' (exploring the text from 15 theoretical perspectives). And while American and British authors are covered - Chaucer, Austen and Conrad, for example - you'll also be reading works from other English-speaking countries, like Americanah by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie.

Subjects

  • English Language Test 
  • Literary Theory
  • Literature, Culture and Society
  • Orientation Literature and Society 1
  • Academic English CIS-L&S Grammar
  • Academic Skills 1
  • Genre and Literary Analysis
  • Academic English CIS-L&S Writing
  • Academic Skills 2
  • Creative Writing L&S
  • Literature and Globalization
  • Orientation Literature and Society 2
  • Life Writing
  • English: International Communication
  • Shakespeare on Film

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the Study guide

Second year

Your second year will focus on a historical overview of literature, from Renaissance texts through to the present day. You'll look at genre as well as country of origin - examining why novels and poetry have been canonised, while graphic novels and fan fiction have not. Plus, you'll take a creative writing course that's unique to VU Amsterdam, where you'll learn to write in different styles and get a taste of how the editing process works. In groups, you'll also get the chance to create your own literary journal.

Subjects

  • Global English
  • Transatlantic Travel Writing
  • American Literature 1914-present
  • Presentation
  • Pronunciation
  • Writing 2
  • Philosophy CIS-L&S-MKDA
  • History of Knowledge
  • Shakespeare and Contemporaries
  • Creative Writing and the Publishing Industry
  • From Empire to Brexit: British Literature 1900-present
  • Novel and Identity: Women Writers in the Eighteenth Century

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the Study guide

Third year

Your third year is all about specialisation. In the first semester, you can choose to spend five months studying abroad in an English-speaking country. Or you can take a minor course (for 30 credits) from another programme. Or you can do an internship at a publishing house, book store or other literary organisation. In the second semester, you'll write your own individual thesis on a topic of your choice relating to one of the two specialisations: ‘English literature in a changing world’ or ‘English literature in a visual culture’.

Subjects

  • Bachelor Thesis Literature and Society English
  • Literature in a Changing World 1
  • Literature in a Visual Culture 1
  • Bachelor Thesis Colloquium Literature and Society English
  • Literature in a Changing World 2
  • Literature in a Visual Culture 2
  • Career Orientation

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the Study guide

  • 1st year

    First year

    In your first year, you'll learn close reading techniques, research skills and how to write academic English. Plus, you'll get an overview of the main literary theories. You'll read a broad range of classic literature - from Shakespeare's 'Romeo & Juliet' (studying the films as well as the play) to Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' (exploring the text from 15 theoretical perspectives). And while American and British authors are covered - Chaucer, Austen and Conrad, for example - you'll also be reading works from other English-speaking countries, like Americanah by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie.

    Subjects

    • English Language Test 
    • Literary Theory
    • Literature, Culture and Society
    • Orientation Literature and Society 1
    • Academic English CIS-L&S Grammar
    • Academic Skills 1
    • Genre and Literary Analysis
    • Academic English CIS-L&S Writing
    • Academic Skills 2
    • Creative Writing L&S
    • Literature and Globalization
    • Orientation Literature and Society 2
    • Life Writing
    • English: International Communication
    • Shakespeare on Film

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the Study guide

  • 2nd year

    Second year

    Your second year will focus on a historical overview of literature, from Renaissance texts through to the present day. You'll look at genre as well as country of origin - examining why novels and poetry have been canonised, while graphic novels and fan fiction have not. Plus, you'll take a creative writing course that's unique to VU Amsterdam, where you'll learn to write in different styles and get a taste of how the editing process works. In groups, you'll also get the chance to create your own literary journal.

    Subjects

    • Global English
    • Transatlantic Travel Writing
    • American Literature 1914-present
    • Presentation
    • Pronunciation
    • Writing 2
    • Philosophy CIS-L&S-MKDA
    • History of Knowledge
    • Shakespeare and Contemporaries
    • Creative Writing and the Publishing Industry
    • From Empire to Brexit: British Literature 1900-present
    • Novel and Identity: Women Writers in the Eighteenth Century

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the Study guide

  • 3rd year

    Third year

    Your third year is all about specialisation. In the first semester, you can choose to spend five months studying abroad in an English-speaking country. Or you can take a minor course (for 30 credits) from another programme. Or you can do an internship at a publishing house, book store or other literary organisation. In the second semester, you'll write your own individual thesis on a topic of your choice relating to one of the two specialisations: ‘English literature in a changing world’ or ‘English literature in a visual culture’.

    Subjects

    • Bachelor Thesis Literature and Society English
    • Literature in a Changing World 1
    • Literature in a Visual Culture 1
    • Bachelor Thesis Colloquium Literature and Society English
    • Literature in a Changing World 2
    • Literature in a Visual Culture 2
    • Career Orientation

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the Study guide

Change your future with the Literature and Society programme

Change your future with the Literature and Society programme

After the bachelor’s programme, you can specialise by following a master’s programme. When you graduate as A literary expert, you could work as A teacher, editor, translator, publisher, researcher and more in Government, NGOs, schools, literary events companies or even your own freelance business.

Discover your future prospects
Student in a square with other people in the background