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The Desire for the Other: Gender and Ethnicity


Admission requirements

Not applicable


Conceptions of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity are closely interwoven. Ideas about masculinity and femininity in dominant white culture very much hinge on assumptions and fantasies about the sexuality of the black or Muslim other. And vice versa: performances of macho manliness, religious chastity or of sultry sexuality by members of minority groups often respond to these ideas. In this course we explore a range of culture-specific notions of gender and sexuality by studying intercultural, interracial and interreliguous interactions. We begin with groundbreaking research by authors such as Frantz Fanon, Sander Gilman and Lillian Smith. These and other theorists introduce us to the far-reaching effects of empire, colonialism, and slavery and the way in which they have shaped our notions of masculinity and femininity. We will consider the efficacy of several key concepts, such as orientialism and intersectionality, for the study of these complex historical and contemporary issues. We also examine the erotic images of cultural and religious others by discussing hot button issues like headscarves, female circumcision, cross-dressing and homosexuality in different cultures and religions. We then continue with exploring the status and agency of women worldwide, and conclude by assessing possible forms of transnational feminism. In all sessions we give special attention to the role of art, literature, film and popular culture in these social processes and debates.

Course objectives

After completion of the course:

  • the student has knowledge and understanding of the main historical debates about the role of gender and sexuality in intercultural processes and practices such as colonization, tourism, prostitution;

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

  • the student is able to deploy insights and concepts from different disciplines and historical periods in the analysis of literature, film and other artistic and cultural objects and practices from different regions, which take into account the cultural identity, but also with transnational relationships between regions worldwide, and their mutual influence.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures mixed with workgroup class meetings

Assessment method


Short assignment (pass/fail; precondition for participation in exam)
Written exam


Written exam 100% of final grade


A resit of the paper is possible in case of an insufficient final grade

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 on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs



For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher Dr. Liesbeth Minnaard.

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.