This course introduces students to the study of gender and sexuality. The Netherlands is a particularly appropriate location for such a course, since it has an international reputation as a sexually liberal country, a characterization that is especially used for the capital, Amsterdam. While the Netherlands lives up to its liberal reputation that allows students to explore sexuality and gender as multi-facetted academic venues, current political and social tensions in The Netherlands and in Europe demonstrate how those very subjects can be turned into contested areas and can have exclusionary effects.
This theme will approach the analysis of gender and sexuality through five themes: histories of sexuality and sexual and gender identities, transgender care and lived experiences, youth sexuality, sex work, and sexual nationalism. In studying these themes, the course takes an interdisciplinary approach in which students learn to critically compare perspectives on sexuality. They will furthermore understand historical and current shaping of knowledge concerning sexuality and gender. Attention will be paid to historical processes in which popular and scientific knowledge reinforced one another and created common sense knowledge on sexuality and gender. The course will raise awareness about hierarchies of knowledge in these matters and the consequences thereof, such as giving rise to homosexual and transgender identities, but also to medical and psychiatric interventions. Next to a field trip, guest lectures, and readings, class discussions and assignments that stimulate critical exchange will prepare students for further academic pursuits.
The study of sexuality and gender offers a fascinating cross-section of Amsterdam/Dutch culture and this program gives the participants ample opportunity to explore some specific aspects of that culture. Yet, while sensitizing them to the topics as well as to local peculiarities and differences with other locations, the course is especially meant for students to learn more generally to question common sense knowledge concerning sexuality and gender.