NICA is the Dutch national research school dedicated to cultural analysis, i.e. the academic study of contemporary culture from a broad Humanities perspective.
The scholars and students participating in NICA come from a variety of disciplines in the Humanities, such as Comparative Literature, Film Studies, Theatre Studies, Modern Languages, Philosophy, and others.
Additionally, the school brings together scholars, MPhil and PhD students from eight universities in the Netherlands: the Universities of Amsterdam (both University of Amsterdam and Free University Amsterdam), Leiden, Utrecht, Nijmegen, Maastricht, Groningen, and Rotterdam.
Nine two-year research master programmes are affiliated to the school. Some eighty staff members, 24 internal (funded) and 52 external PhD students, as well as current 77 MPhil (or research master) students (classes of 2011 and 2012), all work together in NICA.
The school’s research profile may be described as:
(1) hermeneutic in its broadest sense, that is, centred on the description, analysis, interpretation of, and reflection on, diverse cultural artefacts and phenomena, e.g. novels, web sites, paintings, exhibition, films, poems, demonstrations, performances, and opera’s;
(2) interdisciplinary, because the products of current and on-going cultural developments resist enclosure within established disciplines—although, of course, the expertise and archives of the traditional Humanities disciplines remain indispensible;
(3) theoretical in that it opens up the study of culture to conceptual and philosophical questions;
(4) and focused on contemporary culture—including the ways in which cultures shape a relation to the past, an approach that commonly goes under the heading of “cultural memory.”
Hosted at the University of Amsterdam, NICA facilitates a true intellectual community, fostering a high level of interaction between graduate students and staff members from different departments and universities, between PhD and MPhil students, as well as between graduate students and research staff.
The school favours a light and “bottom-up” organizational structure, designed to facilitate emerging interests and priorities; our activities are as likely to be initiated by students as by staff members.
The school’s yearly curriculum comprises a series of seminars, courses, masterclasses, a Summer School, workshops, reading groups, and lectures. Introducing students to a wide range of scholars, issues, objects, and approaches, NICA enables and encourages its students to develop their own research interests and formulate their own research projects.