nl en

Histories of Gender and Sexuality in Society and Culture


Admission requirements

Not applicable


In this introductory core course we discuss how thinkers from different fields and periods approach the concepts of gender and sexuality. We compare views on morality and the body from within Christianity to (classical) philosophy. Then we peek into the microscope of biology to ask where is your sex exactly? And, are all plants and animals heterosexual? We examine the pioneers of psychoanalysis who theorize sexual difference and debate views on gender equality and kinship systems from within politics and law. During the course you will read key writings from the Bible and other creation stories to Herculine Barbin’s life story to analyze how literature and memoir births new social ideas. We discuss the work of feminists such as Olympe de Gouges and Virginia Woolf as well as sex writers from de Sade to Freud. Each week is focused on a key term from the field and discusses its emergence in a particular historical and geopolitical context. Overall, this course will introduce you to the most important arguments for gender and sexuality studies from post-colonial theory, feminist Marxism, psychoanalysis and transgender studies that the other courses in the minor further develop.

Course objectives

After completion of the course:

  • the student has the knowledge and understanding of the main historical debates about the role that gender and sexuality play in culture, film and literature (from Plato to the present);

  • the student gains historical and theoretical insights into gender as a discursive, social construction and recognize how it becomes situated in different periods;

  • the student is able to evaluate understandings and concepts from different disciplines and historical periods in their analysis of literature, film and other artistic and cultural objects and practices (past and present) ;

  • the student can analyze the role of gender and sexuality play in the arts and futher, he/she is able to relate this analysis to the relevant social and scientific debates.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures mixed with workgroup class meetings

Assessment method


Analysis assignment
Group research assignment
Written end-term exam


Analysis assignment (20%)
Group research assignment (30%)
Written end-term exam (50%)


Only for the written end-term exam

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Longer academic texts are available through the ‘collegeplank’ in the University Library and can be copied on site. Shorter texts are posted on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs



For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher Dr. Eliza Steinbock

Student administration: Arsenaal
Coordinator of studies: ms. M.E. Dijkgraaf MA


For more information please check the website of the study program Film and Literature Studies.