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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Fall 2006

WGS 340 • Dutch Culture: Too Tolerant?

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
49605 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
CBA 4.344
Bos, P

Course Description

Conducted in Dutch The Dutch are commonly known for their "tolerant," laid back attitude towards drug use, prostitution, euthanasia, and homosexuality. This course explores both the stereotypes and the actuality of the Dutch policies (are the Dutch really this tolerant? What does their history suggest? What do the citizens themselves think of their government's liberal policies?), and examines the background to these policies within the context of Dutch cultural history. An exploration of these issues in the Dutch context allows one to reconsider what makes our own culture(s) tick and offers a revealing look at cultural differences and their genesis in different contexts. At the same time, we will be asking ourselves how many of these cultural differences will remain in an increasingly globalized culture in which Western Europe is tied increasingly to an American economy and world view. We will look first at Dutch history, and investigate the role and meaning of "tolerance" in various contexts and debates. We will examine some of what is known about the early history of the area, influences of geography and climate, the influence of (international) trade and shipping over the centuries, the Dutch Revolt and the founding of the Dutch nation, the Reformation, Erasmus (the humanist thinker), and the effects of a number of wars, and the rise and decline of an unusual feature of Dutch society, "pillarization." We then move on to explore some of the specific debates that form a central role in Dutch policy: the role of the state and voluntary affiliations (including religion) which can be seen clearly in the Dutch school system for instance, the role of law within Dutch society, various kinds of social control and different attitudes toward social and economic safety nets, the role (and effect) of immigration and emigration at several points in history, race relations (especially after WW II and de-colonization), gender relations, and sexuality.

Grading Policy

20%: Discussion and participation in classes 10%: Class presentation of assigned text in class (once during semester) 20%: Five short 1-page papers in Dutch (based on essay questions) 40%: 5-page final paper written in English (or 2 shorter papers of 2-3 pages) 10%: oral presentation to class on paper topic (in English or Dutch)


William Z. Shetter: The Netherlands in Perspective. Published by Nederlands Centrum Buitenlanders. Cop. Shetter, 1997. Han van der Horst: The Low Sky. Understanding the Dutch. Scriptum Books, Schiedam/Nuffic, The Hague, 1996. Selections from newspapers, magazines, literature, films, videos, and other media will be accessible in a reader, the course website and in my office.


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