Low Countries Studies, lectures
Low Countries Studies is a series of lectures for anyone wanting to learn more about Flanders, Belgium and the Netherlands and offers an overview of various aspects of Flemish society (language, art and culture, history, the media, the Flemish landscape, town and country planning, etc.) and everyday customs in Flanders, all within the broader perspective of Belgium and the Low Countries.
In the past few years Low Countries Studies has been a success and welcomes participants originating from over fifty different countries all over the world, from Australia to Zambia.
- 12 lectures
- on Wednesday evenings
- from 19:00 until 20:30
- in Ghent, Blandijnberg 2, auditorium Suzanne Lilar
- €25 per lecture
- free for students enrolled at Ghent University, including exchange and PhD students
- lecture by Jacques Van Keymeulen (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 15 February 2023
- by Marc Boone (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 22 February 2023
- by Marc Antrop (Faculty of Sciences)
- Wednesday 1 March 2023
- by Lars Bernaerts and Kornee van der Haven (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 8 March 2023
- by Jonas Roelens (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 15 March 2023
- by Sarah Van Leuven (Faculty of Political and Social Sciences)
- Wednesday 22 March 2023
- by Maxime Vandenberghe (Faculty of Political and Social Sciences)
- Wednesday 29 March 2023
- by Francis Maes (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 19 April 2023
- by Marc De Clercq (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration)
- Wednesday 26 April 2023
- by Freddy Mortier (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 3 May 2023
- by Mathieu Zana Etambala (Faculty of Arts)
- Wednesday 10 May 2023
- by Johan Leman (Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven)
- Wednesday 17 May 2023
How to register?
- Click on the "toevoegen aan mijn winkelmandje" button in the blue box below, next to the lecture(s) you wish to attend.
- Click on the shopping cart icon in the upper right corner of this page.
- Check further instructions.
If you are a student at Ghent University, during checkout
- select the "I am eligible for a discount" checkbox. (="ik heb recht op een uitzonderingsprijs")
- in the dropdown menu next to "uitzonderingsprijs", select the category that applies to you (student / exchange student / PhD student).
Lecture series versus micro-credential
- We also offer these lectures as a micro-credential, which means you take part in the evaluation and you obtain a certificate and credits for the micro-credential. If you wish to register for the lectures in the form of a micro-credential, go to our page micro-credential Low Countries Studies.
- If you register for the lecture series on this page, you only attend the lectures, without evaluation, and you get a certificate of attendance, no credits.
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Basic introduction to the Dutch language
In the course of the evening, the history of the Dutch language is presented under different angles: the Germanic roots, Latin influence, the history of the linguistic border, the first texts in Dutch, the separation of the Low Countries and the birth of a standard language. The lecture also deals with the Flemish movement, the struggle against French, and the search for a Flemish linguistic identity.
Want to know more?
The Urban Roots of Medieval Europe: the contribution of the cities of Flanders
Visitors to the Low Countries are often impressed by the cities' cultural and architectural heritage. The lecture guides the student through the medieval and early modern past of the cities of Flanders and Brabant. After examining the representation of the city in medieval and early modern art, the lecturer focusses on the urban network in the Low Countries and the urban economics and politics. He ends by displaying the multiple faces of urban culture.
Want to know more?
Visit the Groeningemuseum in Bruges!
Geography and landscapes of the Low Countries
The geographical meaning of the Low Countries includes Belgium and The Netherlands. The concept is based upon a partially common history and natural similarities. Rare are the regions that show such a diversity in landscapes, both natural and cultural, and in mentality on a rather small area. This lecture presents some geological and historical background that will allow a better understanding of the landscapes and their people when travelling around.
Dutch Literature and the Visual Arts since 1600
The Low Countries are well-known for their famous painters, such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Mondriaan, Karel Appel and Luc Tuymans. This rich tradition in the visual arts resonates strongly in literature as well, both in the 'Dutch Golden Age' and in the twentieth century. This lecture explores this connection, highlighting genres that crossed the borders of literature and art (like the emblematic poem), artists working in both disciplines, and literary movements inspired by (or critically reflecting on) painting and the visual arts.
Rubens or Rembrandt? Art, Politics and the Roots of Belgium and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries
The Dutch Revolt (1568-1648) led to the birth of the Dutch Republic (approximately the current-day Netherlands), while the Southern Low Countries (approximately current-day Belgium) remained loyal to their dynastic lord, the Spanish king. The separation of the Northern and Southern Low Countries was the outcome of a complex political and religious conflict that started in the sixteenth century in the large, prosperous cities of the South (Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent) but eventually led to the spectacular rise of Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. The lecturer explains the vibrant, cosmopolitan urban culture of the sixteenth century of which Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the most famous representative and discusses how national identities were molded during the Dutch Revolt, thanks to the unprecedented political use of pamphlets, image and ritual. Although the awareness of a common cultural and political heritage did not entirely disappear, the differences between the inhabitants of the Northern and Southern Low Countries were more and more apparent: the Dutch had always been more freedom-loving, tolerant and thrifty, while the Belgians/Flemish were devout Catholics and true Burgundians, loving good food and wine. The lecturer will discuss and partly deconstruct these clichés, but also show how they continue to live on, most notably in our appreciation of the great 'Dutch' (Rembrandt, Vermeer) and 'Flemish' (Rubens, Jordaens) painters.
Want to know more?
The Media in Flanders
This lecture provides an illustrated tour through the Flemish media landscape. From trashy to stylish, from entertaining to boring, from enriching to plain stupid, from 'typically Flemish' programmes to globalised tv-formats: the small, but diverse Flemish media market caters all tastes. The lecture focusses on newspapers, radio and television and answers such questions as: Why do the Flemish students read the papers that they do? Which radio station should you listen to for your favourite music? And what do the Flemish like to watch on tv after a hard day's work?
The Belgian federation: origins, functioning, prospects
This lecture analyses the complex process of state reform in Belgium. Particular attention is paid to the major historical driving forces behind federalization, the functioning of the Belgian system, and ongoing debates on its future. Why was the unitary state abolished? Why was it replaced by a system of three regions and three communities? How did party politics affect the linguistic/community conflict, and vice versa? Which alternative models are on the table? And what strengthens or weakens Belgium’s chances of survival?
Polyphonic Music in the Low Countries
Flanders has contributed a great deal to the development of European culture, all the more if one considers how small Flanders as a geographical region really is. As far as music is concerned, the contribution of Flanders to the development of European cultural life is even more evident: in spite of the short lived flourish of Flemish music (a mere two centuries: XVth and XVIth) Flanders took absolute pre-eminence in European musical life in a very short period of time. Wherever one wandered through Europe and its main courts, cities and cathedrals: everywhere Flanders and its music was predominant. Flemish musicians playing music written by Flemish composers, being taught by Flemish teachers on all levels and quite often uniting those three capacities in one and the same person. The Flemish music became very famous and richly illuminated manuscripts with Flemish music turned into a very sought after gift between princes and diplomats. The lecture on Flemish polyphony tries to explain this sudden rise and looks for sociological, cultural but also technical (on an introductory level) reasons for this remarkable period in Flanders' musical history. Above all it aims at introducing the sound qualities and characteristics of Flemish polyphony.
Want to know more?
Check the calendars of the following concert halls / festivals and find out if there is an online concert that seduces you.
The position of Flanders in the Belgian Economy
This lecture gives an overview of the main characteristics of the Flemish economy today and of the institutional setting (multilayer government: the role of Flanders, Belgian and the EU) in which it takes place. Strength and weaknesses are highlighted as well as threats and opportunities. Special attention is paid to the historical development of the Flemish economy today as well as to its international orientation.
Ending life and procreating in Flanders and in the Netherlands
Only three countries in the world have legalised euthanasia, i.e. the active ending by a physician of the life of a patient at the latter's request: the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. Four other states, Oregon, Washington and Montana in the USA and Switzerland, allow a terminally-ill patient to administer him- or herself lethal drugs, but stop short of euthanasia. The Low Countries thus form an island of seeming end-of-life radicalism in an ocean of nations that appear to handle life more carefully.
The lecturer explains what considerations have led these three countries to allow euthanasia and how it has become an indispensable element in a global approach to humane and dignified dying. The lecturer will also go into other bioethical "spear points" in the Low Countries. The opening of marriage and adoption to same-sex couples and some innovations and research types in reproductive medicine also single them out from large parts of the rest of the world (although less clearly and consistently than in the case of life-ending).
From the Belgian Colonial War to the murder of Patrice Lumumba, 1876-1961
Want to know more?
Visit the AfricaMuseum in Tervuren (near Brussels).