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Course Information

Instructor Info:Krysten Lobisch
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105

***Please download the syllabus/reading list and assignment guide below!

This course will explore the intersections of law, medicalization and deviance, and the ways in which social control and regulation operate through and are mediated by them. In this exploration, we will devote particular attention to both the disruption and maintenance of social norms, utilizing the lenses of gender and sexuality, race, class and ability, and the ways in which contemporary politics have played out these debates. Topical issues to be explored may include women's health issues, sexuality, immigration, HIV/AIDS, eugenics, and medical marijuana. Students will be encouraged to engage critically with readings and come prepared to make connections between readings, topics, and current events.

Course Objectives:
  • To introduce students to the concepts of social control, norms, the “gaze,” authority, power and visibility, and how these concepts intersect with and affect identity politics, resistance possibilities and social justice work
  • To encourage students to make connections across different nexuses and levels of (institutional) power and control
  • To facilitate engaged, multivocal student discussion around relating topical modules to one another and to relevant current events
  • To urge students to recognize and critically question how power operates visibly and invisibly in their daily lives
  • To inspire independent critical inquiry into additional ways the law, medicine and/or norms intersect within political and social issues
Additional Info:


Books are available for purchase in the Food for Thought Bookstore, a not-for-profit, worker’s-owned collective in Amherst Town Center. All other course materials are available for download on the course website through Moodle. Articles from websites will list the article title and link, so you can access them either through the links on the Moodle syllabus. The syllabus is organized chronologically.  You should do the readings in advance of the class for which they are listed.

Students are required to complete all assigned readings, but I have also made a range of supplementary materials available in the form of recommended readings throughout the syllabus.  You are encouraged to peruse and see if any of them fit well with your projects/interests, and/or use them as sources in your assignments.

Readings are generally listed on the syllabus in the order of which they are meant to be read for each class day. This is for various reasons. Although you CAN read them out of order, they will (generally) make most sense in the stated order.


Required texts are available for purchase in the Food for Thought Bookstore in Amherst Town Center. 

Atwood, Margaret. (1986). The Handmaid’s Tale. Houghton Miflin; Boston.


We will be drawing readings from the following texts. These readings will be on Moodle in a .pdf format; however, the books from which they draw are excellent and well worth a more thorough investigation, particularly if they fall within your area of interest. I will always encourage you to expand your consciousness regarding the matters we discuss in class! Though I make many recommendations, these two texts in particular are well worth purchasing and reading and will also be available for pickup at Food for Thought Books!

Kluchin, Rebecca. (2011). Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ.

Shilts, Randy. (1987). And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic. St. Martin’s Griffin: New York, NY. 


This course offers a sometimes challenging reading load (75-100 pages most weeks). I understand that you are balancing multiple responsibilities, therefore I encourage you to learn the skill of “working smart” (a skill that will serve you excellently, should you attend graduate school!). Please know that each article was not chosen at random, but one I found interesting, valuable or relevant. I have faith in your abilities, as several pieces have been pulled from graduate-level courses! I have attempted to pick engaging pieces and I hope they will be of use to you in your future projects. In addition, they represent a wide variety of philosophers and educators whose names will probably appear further on in your academic career, and a variety of different disciplines (sociology, anthropology, public health, etc.) as well.

 Lastly, quite a few of the assigned readings are short articles about current events or links to websites, and others are only recommended. Be sure to check the syllabus against Moodle…NOT every reading listed on Moodle for each course day is mandatory! Also check the icon to the left of the source, as many of the sources linked on Moodle are websites, not articles (phew). So fear not the lengthy list! Happy reading!