‘Divided We Stand’: Gender, Norms and Sexuality

Dr Sertaç Sehlikoglu

How have concepts like “women” and “men,” “femininity” and “masculinity,” “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” shaped our experiences and perceptions of sexuality? How do we establish our own gender and sexuality? How independent are our desires of social expectations and norms? How have we come to understand, accept, internalize, and communicate the norms? What processes make these norms compulsory, and even oppressive, to those who seek out space beyond them? This course is designed to enable students from any subject major to explore gender and sexuality from a critical angle. By looking at the most popular debates from across the world, students will examine how cultural makings of body, gender, femininity, masculinity, and sexuality have historically shaped and been shaped by wider social forces.

The course visits foundational concepts and theories (feminist and queer theory) in gender studies which draw for example on philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and history. The lectures provide examples from across the globe, to enable us to question our very own norms, in the way we often fail to notice they exist. In seminars, students will discuss their chosen examples from popular culture and facilitate discussion of current controversies around gender vis-à-vis the themes and theories covered in the lectures.

Course Aims and Learning Outcomes

The main aim of this course to develop the critical thinking skills about norms, including those we might have internalized unknowingly.

By the end of the course, students are expected to:

  • become familiar with social scientific literature relevant to multiple forms of gendering
  • demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between heteronormativity and the everyday makings of gender
  • interpret and deconstruct their everyday exposure to the gendered and caricaturized images of the non-Western contexts (Africa, Asia, Middle East.)
  • understand particular anthropological and sociological terminology on gender, including compulsory heteronormativity, performativity, body, habitus, etc.


Previous Knowledge

No prior knowledge is assumed or required.