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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.


The timetable is available on the website.

Mode of instruction

Lectures mixed with workgroup class meetings

Course Load

140 hours
Lectures: 12 hours
Class preparations (readings): 100
Assessment (assignments, exam): 28

Assessment method

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

  • Written exam (100% of final grade)


Blackboard will be used for communication, providing literature and/or other study material, for turnitin, and where applicable for reading and writing assignments, discussion forums, peer feedback, and to ask questions to the teacher and/or fellow students.

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 Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory.

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: Van Wijkplaats
Coordinator of studies: ms. drs. E.M.T.Poolman


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