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Students experience the Dutch Golden Age in Special Collections

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A little slice of the seventeenth century exists right here on the LSU campus. That’s what students in Professor Christine Kooi’s course on the Dutch Republic and Empire discovered this week when they visited Special Collections.

The students worked closely with five books printed during the Dutch Golden Age, a period that roughly spanned the seventeenth century and saw the Netherlands develop into a commercial, cultural, and scientific powerhouse. Its rise is reflected in the large amount of printed materials that were produced in this time period. Amsterdam, in fact, was one of Europe’s major centers of publishing. Many of the books printed there had an enormous impact on European and world history.

Professor Kooi said the purpose of the visit was to expose her students to early modern Dutch printing and give them experience working with artifacts from the time period they are studying. “We can’t travel back to the seventeenth century,” she said, “but we can interact with it indirectly and in a tactile way through rare books like these.”

Kooi, who drafted worksheets for each book, added that she thinks it is important for students to see for themselves how history is preserved and studied, rather than just hearing about it from their professor. “It was really fun to be able to experience the class material by actually getting to touch something from the 1600s,” one student commented. “I feel like I understand the subject a little better.”

This was the first time Kooi has brought a class to Special Collections, but she said she plans to visit again. To learn how you can involve your students in object-based learning like this, please contact us!

Michael Taylor is Curator of Books, LSU Libraries’ Special Collections

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