Interview met Rowie van Hagen

Rowie van Hagen - student AMS 2016-2017

Student Rowie van Hagen

"With small groups varying between 8-20 students, there is plenty of room for lively discussions in class. This means you are motivated to come to class well-prepared and it provides for more interactive classes instead of monologues by lecturers."

What Bachelor's program did you finish before starting with Art, Media and Society?

I completed my Bachelor’s degree in the Humanities Major of Liberal Arts and Sciences (now known as University College Tilburg) at Tilburg University.

Why did you choose to study Art, Media and Society?

Considering that my personal interests after my Bachelor were still very broad, I decided I wanted to apply for a Master’s program that reflected this as well. This is why I decided to enroll for the ‘Art, Media and Society’ track of the Culture Studies Master at Tilburg University.

How are your experiences with the track so far?

I would describe ‘Art, Media and Society’ as a small-scaled, internationally oriented program with an interdisciplinary approach to the role of media and art in modern society. With small groups varying between 8-20 students, there is plenty of room for lively discussions in class. This means you are motivated to come to class well-prepared and it provides for more interactive classes instead of monologues by lecturers. Even though it may seem intense to be well-prepared for each class, it is definitely manageable and students find no trouble combining it with extracurricular activities or small jobs on the side.

Another positive aspect of interactive classes, is that the interaction between students and lecturers becomes more informal as well. This allows for lecturers to really get to know their students and their personal and academic interests, which will certainly be helpful when discussing possible subjects for your master thesis.

The international orientation of the program cannot only be found in the diversity of topics discussed during class, such as authors, artists and other public figures from various countries within Europe (and occasionally beyond), but it is also represented by the diversity in students. Currently, our classroom contains a mixture of Dutch students, as well as students from for instance Greece, Germany and the United States. I find that this cultural diversity in the classroom widens your perspective on issues concerning media, politics, art, literature and digital culture; which I would describe as the core topics of our classes.

What are your favorite courses so far?

Considering the fact that I am currently enrolled in the program, and thus almost halfway through the courses offered, I cannot provide information on all the courses yet.

What I can say, is that most of the courses deal with the ways in which various forms of art and literature reflect current societal issues, and how the authors and artists behind it contribute to the ongoing debate on these issues in the public sphere. For example, in the course ‘Individuals and Communities in the Digital Age’ we discussed how the increased popularity of different social media platforms affected our online social behavior. How do various media affordances influence our social media usage and what does this mean to our understanding of concepts such as communities, ‘friends’ and visual culture?

While this course is oriented towards digital culture and social media platforms, another course called ‘Public Intellectuals in a Transforming Public Sphere’ places a specific focus on European literary writers who take up the role of public intellectual in the public sphere. Dealing with well-known international writers (such as Michel Houellebecq, Zadie Smith, Javier Marías, Katja Petrowskaja and Svetlana Alexievich), we analyzed and discussed the ways in which these authors address current societal issues in their written works. How do these writers present themselves as public intellectuals, and thereby contribute to debates in the public sphere and influence public opinion on contemporary social, cultural and political issues?

Another course which I found particularly interesting, was one of the Research Skills courses of the program, called ‘Hermeneutic Research of Text and Image’. At first I was rather skeptical about this course: when thinking about humanities and culture studies, the term ‘research’ was not the first thing that came to my mind. However, this course has proven to be of great value in writing papers for other courses, as well as in thinking about the first steps of the master thesis.

What are your aspirations for the future?

One of the main questions that students get asked about the Master’s program they choose is: what do you want to do with it afterwards? What are your future plans and where do you see yourself working after graduation? The truth is that I am still not sure what I would like to do after my Master's program. Ideally, I would like to become a writer and publish novels that are interesting and popular enough to be turned into motion pictures. However, I would also consider working for larger media corporations in the Netherlands or do something related to literature (writing reviews or columns for magazines), art (work at a museum) or film (working at a movie theater) in general.

Do you have any tips for new students?

If you find it hard to choose a Master’s program that suits you, I would definitely recommend you to visit one of the two Master’s programs information evenings Tilburg University organizes each year. The information sessions you can attend there will provide you with all the information you need on the Master’s programs of your interest, and attending such events will greatly help you paint a picture of what the campus and the people at Tilburg University are like.

I would also invite you to contact us to attend a lecture. This will give you one of the best insights in what the interactive classes of this program are like and what kind of topics are discussed during the lectures. It also brings you into contact with more students of the program who are more than willing to answer your questions!

Last but not least, if you wish to see some exemplary papers and essays written by students and staff of the Culture Studies department of Tilburg University, I would recommend you to visit and have a look at some of the articles posted there. They present a nice overview of the diversity of topics discussed by students who are enrolled for Culture Studies Master’s tracks, of which many topics are familiar to students taking the ‘Art, Media and Society’ track specifically.

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