Home/ Sexualities
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS2028042

Semester and Year Offered: 1st Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Amrita Nandy

Email of course coordinator: anandy[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Course description and objectives

Committed to nuanced thinking and intellectual rigour, the course will build/deepen a holistic understanding of identity, rights and democracy through the prism of human sexuality. To bridge the gap between theory and practice, it delves into key concepts, theoretical perspectives as well as developments in the domains of sexualities. Inter-disciplinary resources will help students critically engage between the intersections of sexualities and other social constructs of personhood. The course helps find answers to fascinating questions such as: when does the formation of the human sexual subject and identity become interlinked? What kind of politics do sexuality/sexualities spark? How does sexuality permeate structures of rights, governmentality and, more importantly, how do structures of power reshape it to make it governable?

The course is aimed not just at a critical understanding of our outer social worlds--we also turn our gaze inwards. Reflective and self-reflexive, students consider how we participate in and resist normative sexual cultures, and thereby use our agency (or not) in individual and social transformation.

It will be taught via an assortment of historical and contemporary texts--films, social debates, mythology, public campaigns and so on. Besides lectures and tutorials, each module will feature workshops and group work to encourage active, engagement-based learning.

Brief description of modules/main modules:

An introduction to sexuality studies that joins the dots between the personal and the political, and takes us to the encounter of essential human experiences and their socio-political manifestations. Through a genealogy of the word ‘sexuality’, this module traces the history of when and how talking about and studying human sexuality came to be, and why. We unpack the inter-disciplinary lens on sexuality in the Indian and global context.


  • Sexuality: centrality, marginality
  • Evolution of thought and attitudes towards sexuality
  • The hetero regime and discourse


  • Kumaramkandath R. and Srivastava, S. Eds. 2020. (Hi)Stories of Desire. Sexualities and Culture in Modern India (Introduction).
  • Foucault, M. 1978. History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction. Pantheon Books (Part 1).
  • Film

For reference

  • Naples, Nancy A. 2020. Companion to Sexuality Studies, WILEY Blackwell (Introduction).

From the emergence of homosexuality as an identity to its journey across geographies and cultures, this module dwells on the discourse and challenges around non-normative sexuality and queerness. We probe what diverse sexualities represent, and how they are represented and received.

Natural = Normal = Straight?
The homo/hetero binary versus the sexuality spectrum
Chronicles of queerness in India


  • Butler. J. 1993 (2011 edition). Bodies That Matter. On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. Routledge (Preface and Introduction).
  • Menon, N. (Ed.). 2007. Sexualites. Women Unlimited. (Introduction and select essays).
  • Film

For reference

Menon, M. 2018. Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India. Speaking Tiger (Introduction and select chapters).

The third part of the course shifts to the politics of intimacy and the problematization of public and private. How is sexuality produced and governed, including in marital and non-marital relationships? What about non-reproductive sexuality that does not serve the agenda of heterosexual (patriarchal) marriage? Can we reimagine selfhood and the family?

Biopower (incl. in the Indian context)
The ‘proper’ family, a state-market agenda
Institutionalization of sexism in the Indian family

  • Foucault, M. 1979. January 24. Bodies. The Birth of Biopolitics. Lectures at the Collège de
  • France. Palgrave Macmillan (pgs. 51-74).
  • Lakkimsetti, C. 2014. “HIV Is Our Friend”: Prostitution, Biopower, and the State in Postcolonial India. Signs. Vol. 40, No. 1: pp. 201-226.
  • Film

For reference

  • Chatterjee, I. 2012. When "Sexuality" Floated Free of Histories in South Asia. The Journal of Asian Studies. Vol. 71, No. 4: pp. 945-962.

This is a deeper dive into the politics of identity and rights. How do identity-based politics navigate legalities and (what claims to be) ‘religion’? What about identity politics within the flux of sexual diversities? What is the encounter of sexuality with other markers of identity such as caste or disability?


Fixity, fluidity: identity politics of sexuality


  • Bose, B. and Battacharya, S. (Eds.). 2007. The Phobic and the Erotic. The Politics of Sexualities in Contemporary India. Seagull (Introduction and select chapters)
  • Geetha, V. 2015. Notes on a Literary Death, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 50, No. 4: pp. 16-18.
  • Film

For reference

  • Puar, Jasbir. 2011. ‘Citation and censorship: The politics of talking about the sexual politics of Israel’. Feminist Legal Studies 19.2: 133-142.

Course outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the metanarratives and trajectory of sexuality studies
  • Engage sensitively with a range of perspectives on sexualities
  • Frame critical concerns and questions arounds multiple intersections of sexualities
  • Recognize one’s own/societal attitudes vis-à-vis sexualities as a continuing process

Assessment criteria:

  • 50% for first (written) assessment
  • 50% for second (written) assessment

Additional reading


  • Berlant, Lauren, and Michael Warner. 1998. ‘Sex in Public’. Critical Inquiry 24.2: 547-566.
  • Dave, Naisargi N., 2010. ‘To Render Real the Imagined: An Ethnographic History of Lesbian Community in India’. Signs. 35, 3: 595-619.
  • Deleuze G. and Guattari Felix. 1993. Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press (Preface and Introduction).
  • Halberstam, J. Jack. 2012. Gaga Feminism. Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal. Vol. 7. Beacon Press (introduction).
  • Khanna, A. 2016. Sexualness. New Text.
  • Millet, K. 1984. Beyond Politics? Children and Sexuality in Carol Vance (Ed.) Pleasure and Danger. Exploring Female Sexuality (pgs. 217-224)
  • Mortimer-Sandilands, C. and Erickson, B. (Eda.) 2010. Queer Ecologies Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire. Indiana University Press (pgs 51-72 and 102-133).
  • Muñoz, José E. 1999. Music. Disidentifications. Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Vol. 2. University of Minnesota Press (chapters 1 and 2).
  • Narrain. A. and Gupta, A. 2011. Law Like Love. Queer Perspectives on Law. (select chapters).
  • Repo, Jemima. 2013. ‘The Life Function: The Biopolitics of Sexuality and Race Revisited’. Theory & Event. 16.3.
  • Revathi, A. 2010. The Truth About Me. A Hijra Life Story. New Delhi: Penguin.
  • Shah, Svati P. and Weigman, R. 2015. Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work, and Migration in the City of Mumbai. Duke University Press (Introduction).
  • The Keywords Feminist Editorial Collective. 2021. Keywords for Gender and Sexuality Studies. New York University Press.
  • Vance, Carol S. 1984. ‘Pleasure and Danger. Toward a Politics of Sexuality’ in Pleasure and Danger. Exploring Female Sexuality: 1-28.