The Making of Crucial Differences:'Race', Sexuality, Gender and Class in Historical Perspective
Full course description
The Making of Crucial Differences offers a historical perspective on the ways in which the social categories of gender, race, class and sexuality have made a difference, from the Enlightenment up to the mid-twentieth century, with a prelude that deals with early modernity. The course introduces students to seminal approaches within gender studies, postcolonial studies, and queer theory as critical lenses for analyzing different historical case studies. It inquires into the ways in which dominant Western discourses of identity have formed divisions between self and other, black and white, the Orient and the West, male and female, hetero- and homosexual, upper and lower class. In other words, it explores how these differences served to construct and maintain cultural hierarchies and social inequalities. The historical perspective of this course implies a sustained focus on the co-construction of gender, sexuality, race, and class as categories that shaped – and were shaped by – the entangled histories of capitalism, colonialism, slavery, and modern science.
To acquaint students with a critical perspective on modern, mostly European history and the ‘dialectic of Enlightenment’, that means to show how the achievements of Enlightened ideals etc. were intertwined with colonialism, the ‘Jewish question’, gender and class inequalities.
To familiarize students with a historical perspective and historical knowledge on the production and impact of configurations of ‘race’, class, gender and sexuality from the Enlightenment until the Shoa/Holocaust.
To introduce students to canonical philosophical, theoretical texts on ‘race’ and ‘gender’, ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘orientalism’, and to major texts in the field of historical gender and diversity studies like Foucault’s “History of Sexuality”.
To acquaint students with the way in which these configurations like gender, race and religion have structured cultural scripts and practices, stereotypes, individual identities, and European and North American developments, like slavery.
To introduce students into the (critical) role literature can play within the dynamics of social change and cultural discourse.
To provide students with the analytical skills to examine the dynamics of the production and reproduction of identity and difference, inclusion and exclusion, equality and inequality.
Interest in historical research, gender studies and critical theoretical reflection.
- E-reader and the essay We Slaves of Suriname by Anton de Kom.