nl en

Gender and Diversity: New Approaches in Critical and Cultural Theory


Admission requirements

Not applicable


The fields of gender and diversity studies have expanded their reach inside the academy by becoming potential dimensions of nearly any kind of disciplinary research. As well the institutionalization of these fields has brought with it discussions of periodization, proper objects, methods and questions of how to certify expertise in, for example, feminist theory. This course is concerned with critical and cultural theories that remain on the edge of gender and diversity studies, perhaps because they challenge the humanist center of a foundational subject, like ‘Woman,’ or resist the posthumanist preoccupation with eliminating ‘Man’ altogether. Hence, the course will move through a series of what seem to be new approaches within the domain of investigating how difference is produced, even though as cultural inquires they have been present for a longer time.

Animal studies, for instance, raises the question of who is this animal that calls itself human? As human animals, how might we learn from animal kin to see, read and perceive the world differently, and how does cuteness or scale matter therein? Disability studies grapples with the norms of whose bodies are rendered capable, seeable and desirable, in turn offering ‘crip’ aesthetics by which to evaluate difference. The self in self-determination is under critical scrutiny in Indigenous theories of sovereignty as well as in de-colonial thinking that breaks with (pre-)(post-)modern assumptions about shifts in subjectivity. By what cultural means does a Native or colonialized self survive colonial settler cultural domination? Similarly in Critical Intersex and Transgender Studies, the self is mapped out in relation to hard and soft technologies obtained through the clinic, distributed in online networks and often conjured in memoir writing. Black philosophy such as practiced by Sylvia Wynter has offered the insight that Man is but one genre of the human – what are other genres? Which kinds of texts tell of these other (human) life forms? Together we will explore the question of how these new approaches can be engaged to deepen our critical understandings of the cultural, and its rough, hewn, and hard edges.

We will pursue these questions through a series of theoretical writings, primary texts, and objects selected by the instructor and students. The first session on each of the five topics will be set by the instructor, and the second session will be set by student seminar leaders who take responsibility for determining how to continue the discussion according to their own interests, and in communication with the instructor. Additional sessions will include an introduction to gender and diversity studies, a creative assignment to experiment with genre, and student presentations of their final research proposal.

Course objectives

Students will gain knowledge of and insights into the humanistic tradition of gender and diversity studies while becoming aware of new approaches within this field; they must be able to use these new approaches in their analyses of the limits of the human and related cultural interventions; during the course the student must learn to engage with cultural differences underpinning the critique of the human; they must understand the role of genre in relation to cultural texts, types, and categories; and they will deepen their critical understandings of the cultural edge of the animal, ability, settler/colonial, colonial/postcolony, trans/cisgender, sex typicality, and racialized groups. In addition to these theoretical developments, the student will also train their skills in oral presentation, facilitation of group discussion, research-focused and creative writing.


Timetable on the website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

The total workload for this course is 280 hours, to be distributed as follows: – Course attendance 13 × 2 hours a week = 26 – Course preparation, ca. 160 – Preparation papers (creative assignment, final paper) ca. 94

Assessment method

A. Selection of reading material/cultural object, participation in classroom discussions, co-chairing a seminar session
B. Creative Genre Assignment (30%)
C. Final research proposal and presentation (10%)
D. Final paper (60%)
Please note that participation in the assignments listed under A., which will not be graded, is requisite. Failure to fulfil this requirement will result in the deduction of one point from the final grade.
Should the weighted average of the genre assignment and the final paper yield an insufficient grade, then the student will be offered an opportunity for revising the final paper.



Reading list

To be announced


Students have to apply for this course with the registration system of the university uSis.
General information about registration with uSis you can find here in Dutch and in English
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Media Studies student administration, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 1.02b.