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RMA Thematic course: ‘Gender, Sexuality and Generation: history van geslacht op geslacht’

Theme and perspective

How can we think historical change without thinking the very processes that make it possible, that is, the process of human generation? In this course we learn to think history through the lens of this question. This involves the very concrete bodily issues of reproduction  – which immediately leads us to broader fields such as concepts of femininity and masculinity, sexual morality, the creation of lineages, and the troubling issues of religious, class, ethnic and racial ‘mixing’. But the question also pertains to a less concrete family or individualized level, in asking how a society organizes the transfer of material, social and cultural properties and resources to the next generation, and how communities mark their boundaries in doing so. Or: how does this process create ‘inherited differences’ – nationality, status, race, etc.? By doing so, the course offers a historical perspective on intersectionality.

This course builds on Joan Scott’s groundbreaking conceptualization of gender as a fundamental category of historical analysis  by taking it a step further: it explicitly includes bodies and procreation within the concept. Bodies are understood in relation to practices, techniques, materialities and discourses through material semiotics. Precisely by understanding bodies in relation to practices and techniques, their historization becomes possible.

Dates & times:

The course will take place in Utrecht on the following dates:

  • Friday 11 November, 13.00-17.00 – Janskerkhof 2-3, room 1.09
  • Friday 25 November, 09.00-17.00 – morning: Janskerkhof 2-3, room 1.09, afternoon: Janskerkhof 2-3, room 0.17
  • Friday 2 December, 09.00-17.00 – morning: Janskerkhof 2-3, room 0.22, afternoon: Janskerkhof 15a, room 2.02
  • Friday 9 December, 09.00-17.00 – Janskerkhof 2-3, room 1.09
  • Friday 16 December, 09.00-17.00 – Janskerkhof 2-3, room 0.21
  • Friday 23 December, 09.00-13.00 – Janskerkhof 2-3, room 1.09

Four themes & methods:

Besides an introductory lecture and closing session, the course is divided in four themes which each are connected to a kind of source:

  • Feminism & Maternalism (Method: narrative texts)
  • Mixing Categories (Method: deconstruction)
  • Bodies (Method: practices, ANT, material semiotics)
  • Genealogies (Method: demographic registrations, databases)

For each theme, there will be one or two guestlecturer(s). One lecture will discuss a historical example of the topic discussed, the other will concentrate more on issues of sources and method. Geertje Mak will be present at all classes.

Dutch readings and sources

The course will also contain Dutch reading materials, both primary and secondary. It will be possible to follow the course if you can read Dutch. Google translate might be very helpful, but analyzing sources on that basis might be too tricky. Discussions will be in English, unless all students speak Dutch.


Students will write a paper in which they use the perspective and insights of the course to analyze a source of their own choice.

Credits & Certificate

Certificates of participation and credits will be issued after the event. The event coordinators will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Note: the certificate itself is not valid as ECTS, you need to validate it yourself at your local Graduate School.

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