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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 developed key concepts of gender and sexuality including equality, diversity and liberation. We compare views on morality and the body from within myths and philosophy to the French revolution. Then we peek into the microscope of biology to ask where is your sex exactly? How did eugenics or “good breeding” enact racist national hygiene policies? 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 like Frankenstein and Memoirs of a Nineteenth Century French “hermaphrodite” Herculine Barbin: to analyze how literature births new social ideas. This course also introduces you to the most important arguments for gender and sexuality studies from post-colonial theory, feminist Marxism, psychoanalysis and transgender studies that the next courses 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.


The timetable is available on the website.

Mode of instruction

Lectures mixed with workgroup class meetings

Course Load

Histories – 280 total

  • Course meetings: 26 hrs

  • Preparation for meetings: 216 hrs

  • Assignments and Exams: 38 hrs

Assessment method

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


Texts are posted on Blackboard

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 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: 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.