Contemporary Literature and Arts: Cultural Interventions and Social Justice

The master's programme in Arts and Culture focuses on culture in the making. Culture can refer to the products of intellectual and artistic creativity, such as scholarly and literary texts or  works of art. It also indicates the cultural practices that shape the everyday life of people, and is expressed in their individual tastes and forms of associating with one another. Finally, culture is at the heart of the processes through which people explicate and contest ethical, aesthetic, and political meanings and values.

Contemporary Literature and Arts grapple with the ethical challenges of our times. In their emphasis on inexhaustible meaning and play, they create spaces for the exploration of injustices and the expression of marginalised identities. They also offer us ways to connect with other people and cultures. In the MA specialisation Contemporary Literature and Arts: Cultural Interventions and Social Justice (CLA) you will examine how 21st-century literature and arts engage with issues of social justice, such as racial injustice, class and gender inequalities, climate justice, the rights of migrants and refugees, the discrimination of LGBTQ+ people, ageism and ableism. CLA will teach you to understand contemporary literature and arts not just as reflections on and/or representations of issues of social justice, but as active interventions in the spheres of politics and society at large. How do refugees narrate their own experiences and thus make sense of them? How do graphic memoirs deal with the topic of disability? How does performance art create space for transgender voices? How does ecoart intervene in political activism? You will explore these and other case studies from theoretical and critical perspectives such as postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, environmental and health humanities, and critical age and disability studies. Using an interdisciplinary methodology, you will learn to apply analytical approaches from literary and cultural studies, art history, history, philosophy, and from the humanities’ various intersections with the social sciences. You will also be trained in the use of advanced research and writing skills, and you will write your final thesis under the supervision of an expert in the field.

Other specialisations in this master's programme:

Elena Cassina, Student Ambassador Contemporary Literature and Arts 2023-2024

Why Elena decided to choose this master’s programme:
“I did my bachelor’s at University College Maastricht. During that time, I focused mostly on gender studies and identity studies. In my third year, I also took some literature courses. In these classes, I really liked the intersection between contemporary literature and gender and identity studies.I was always interested in literature and even thought about studying English literature. However, I wanted something contemporary, and not only study the classical literature. In my second year, one of our professors was designing this new programme. It is still relatively new. But especially the contemporary aspect of the literature and arts, combined with social justice sounded very interesting. I think it is a natural continuation of what I was already studying and interested in.”

What she hopes to get out of this programme:
“We often think that social justice is all about a lot of hands-on action. But I believe that arts and literature can help to address matters of social and environmental justice as well. We need arts and culture to educate and activate people. In the master’s programme, we learn about the theoretical backgrounds behind things that are inherently unjust or unfair. Whenever I read or watch the news now, I can connect it to what we are learning here more easily. Basically, I think this programme helps me to make sense of the world around me.”


Elena Cassina

“I hope to work in the publishing industry in the future. Because I believe that literature can help educate and agitate topics about social justice.”

UM and FASoS Campus Tour

At FASoS, we offer our prospective students the opportunity to join a campus tour on 13 March and 1 May 2024. During this campus tour, one of our student ambassadors will show you our faculty, inner city and all important UM buildings. Are you not able to come one of the aforementioned dates? Don't worry! We also offer campus tours during our Open Days, Experience Days and Introduction Days. Are you not able to come from abroad for a campus tour? We also offer a virtual campus tour! Check it out through the interactive video on the left.


Kickstart your career at our Master's Open Day

Experience Maastricht University: find out more about one of the most international universities in Europe, immerse yourself in your programme of choice, and explore our beautiful city. The next Master’s Open Day is on Saturday 23 March 2024.

Q&A sessions

We regularly offer Instagram Live Q&A sessions for students who are interested in our master's programmes. Our student ambassadors will answer all your questions about the programme of your choice and studying in Maastricht. For more information and registration, take a look at our Master events page.

Pre-master's programme

If you do not satisfy the admission requirements of this Master's programme you may be able to enrol in a Pre-master's course year. Check out the Pre-master information and learn more about the programme, the courses and the requirements.

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