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 knows and understands 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, they are able to relate this analysis to the relevant social and scientific debates.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Mid-term paper assignment

  • 1000-1500 words

  • Individual assignment

Group research assignment

  • Consists of a research proposal (1500 words) and a poster presentation

  • Group assignment

Take-home end-term exam

  • Essay style questions

  • Duration of the exam: ca. 2 hours

  • Time the exam is available: 8 hours

  • Individual assignment


  • Mid-term paper assignment (30%)

  • Group research assignment (20%)

  • Take-home end-term exam (50%)

To complete the course successfully, students need to score a 5,5 or higher on the End-term Take-Home Exam and have a weighted average of at least 5.5 for the entire course.


Take-home end-term exam (50%)
Students who score lower than a 5,5 on the End-term Take-Home exam, or students who have a combined average lower than 5,5 for the course are eligible for the Re-sit Take-Home Exam covering material from the entire course.

Inspection and feedback

Feedback on assignments and exams will be published via Brightspace with the assignment or exam results. 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

The reading list will be made available up to a few weeks before the start of classes. Most assigned texts will be available online via the Leiden University Library. Texts that are not available online will be made available via a reading shelf in the library.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal.