Feminist and Cross-Cultural Readings


University of Potsdam, Anglophone Literatures and Cultures - 3 or 6 ECTS
Thursdays 16:00 – 18:00 (CEST) | 10:00 - 12:00 (EDT)
15 WEEKS (17 April 2023 - 4 August 2023)


How do women’s arts and literature convey new meanings of body, identity, morality, and sexuality? This culturally diverse course provides an insight into feminist, lesbian, and queer theories and a comprehensive analysis of the achievements of female artists and writers from various races and cultures. Women’s poems, songs, films, interviews, photographs, memoirs, documentaries, short stories, and fine arts will be analyzed from a feminist, lesbian, and cross-cultural perspective that exposes the dynamics of power relations in different cultures. Diverse disciplines, such as the visual, literary, and performing arts, are employed to enable the participants to explore the concept of the gaze both as readers and as viewers and to recognize the limitations of modernist and post-modernist modes of looking, writing, and doing in intercultural contexts.

The course is divided into fifteen lectures that integrate many themes and engage with various theoretical and cultural debates about the female body, pleasure, desire, girlhood, womanhood, motherhood, housework, nudity, femininity, sexuality, beauty, home, exile, gender norms, and lesbian love. It encompasses a wide selection of works by African, American, Arab, English, French, Indian, Irish, Mexican, Swedish, Portuguese, and Turkish female poets, writers, and artists. References are made to Audre Lorde’s ‘erotic as power,’ Adrienne Rich’s ‘lesbian continuum,’ Julia Kristeva’s ‘semiotics,’ Hélène Cixous’ ‘écriture féminine,’ Luce Irigaray’s ‘female jouissance,’ Judith Butler’s ‘gender performativity,’ and Rosi Braidotti’s ‘nomadic subject.’ The interdisciplinary approach of the course will enable participants to break down the barriers between disciplines and cultures and to gain a broad understanding of female creativity and the resistance against patriarchal hegemony.


To provide a general understanding about:

  • Feminist arts and literature in various cultural contexts.
  • The dynamics of power relations in discourses.
  • Reader-response theory.
  • Semiotics.
  • Feminist philosophy, positionality, intersectionality, queer theory, and identity politics.
  • The struggle against patriarchy in various socio-political structures.
  • How gender roles are perceived in various cultures.
  • How female authors write about their bodies and their experiences.
  • How female artists challenge the patriarchal gaze in their journey of self-expression.
  • The limitations of modernist and postmodernist praxis within the feminist philosophy.
  • The complicated position of the female artists and writers in various cultures.
  • The multiplicity of feminist voices and their ways of self-expression.


A full outline of the course syllabus can be found here. Please check the platform for the updated syllabus.

Please note that there will be a preparatory meeting that will take place on Wednesday, April 12th, one week before the class starts. In this meeting, we will introduce you how the platform works and we will offer technical support so that everybody is technically ready for the first session.


Dr. Iman Al-Ghafari has a PhD in English Literature and gender studies from Cairo University (1999). Her doctoral dissertation is about “The Quest for Identity in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath: A Feminist Approach.” She worked as a Professor in Syria and was a pioneer in writing about the lesbian identity in the Arab culture. Her academic publications revolve around gender, sexuality, and epistemology in media, literature, and translation. Starting from 2012, she has held postdoctoral research positions at Amsterdam University and Utrecht University. In 2016, she was invited to be a guest writer in Sweden where she published poems and articles about exile, identity and lesbian love. Currently, she is affiliated to Off-University. She taught a summer course on women’s poetry and feminist philosophy. Her next course is about feminist cross-cultural readings of women’s arts and literature. She is also finalizing a manuscript on “Lesbian Issues in Middle-Eastern Cultures Vis-a-vis Western Cultures: Between Theory and Practice.”

This course is hosted by University of Potsdam , Anglophone Literatures and Cultures | Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik.