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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.

Four themes & methods: Zoom Lectures & Discussions:

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.

Thinking with sources: Zoom seminars & Walking seminars

Based on readings of innovative insights in the history of gender, sexuality and ‘inherited differences’ (intersectionality), this course aims to stimulate students to apply these insights to their own research and in their analyses of sources. To this end, students who are already in the phase of doing their own research (ReMa thesis or PhD thesis) will be asked to bring in their own source material to ‘think with’. Each of these students will choose one methodology slot to do so; all others will be asked to help them thinking.

In order to make meeting in person possible, we will organize two ‘walking seminars’. This requires students to travel to Utrecht and be able to walk for a maximum of 2,5 hours. For those who cannot do this, or feel uncomfortable traveling and/or meeting in person, a zoom session will be made available.

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.


Theme Methods
Session 1

6 November, 9-12h

Zoom Lecture

& Instructions Course

Gender, Sexuality and Generation: history van geslacht op geslacht
Sessions 2a+b

13 November, 9 -17h

Lecture Digital + Walking Seminar

Maternalist politics  vs radical feminism Narrative texts
Session 3a

20 November 9-12h


Mixing Categories Categories, deconstruction
Session 3b

27 November, 9-12h

Zoom seminar

Mixing Categories
Session 4a

4 December, 9-12h

Zoom lecture

Genealogies Registers, Databases
Session 4b

11 December, 9-12h

Zoom seminar

Sessions 5a+b

18 December 9-17h

Zoom Lecture  + Walking seminar

Bodies Practices, ANT, material semiotics
Sessions 6a+b

8 January 12 -17u

Live meeting in Utrecht

Paper Presentations and peer-feedback

Zoom sessions and lectures will include (silent) chat response breaks, break-out rooms and other breaks to make it comfortable.

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.

Course fully booked – contact us for a spot on the waiting list (

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Bookings are closed for this course.