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Course Information

Instructor Info:Marlene Fried
Office Extension x5565
Pamela Stone
Office Extension x6203
TA Info:Maribel Morales
Term: 2014F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) WLH
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) WLH

This course will investigate the roles of law, culture and technology in creating and re-defining families. We will focus on the ways in which systems of reproduction reinforce and/or challenge inequalities of class, race and gender. We will examine the issues of entitlement to parenthood, domestic and international adoption, surrogacy, birthing and parenting for people in prison, and the uses, consequences and ethics of new reproductive technologies designed to help people give birth to biologically-related children. Questions to be addressed include: How does a person's status affect their relation to reproductive alternatives? What is the relationship between state reproductive policies and actual practices, legal, contested, and clandestine, that develop around these policies? How are notions of family and parenting enacted and transformed in an arena that is transnational, interracial, intercultural, and cross-class?

Course Objectives:

One goal of this course is to provide a safe space to explore families. In keeping with this the class together has created discussion guidelines as follows:


  • Respect and Confidentiality
  • Mistakes are okay
  • Use "I" statements
  • Debate ideas, not individuals
  • Step Up, step back
  • Respect the different experiences and backgrounds of fellow peers
  • Ouch with love
  • Actively work on unpacking oppression and being in an anti-oppressive classroom
Evaluation Criteria:

To receive an evaluation or a grade you must satisfactorily complete the following:

CLASS ATTENDANCE:     No more than three absences.

CLASS PARTICIPATION: Student participation in class discussions is expected.  Marlene, Pam and Maribel are available to work with students who have difficulty.

STUDENT PRESENTATIONS: Each student will give one 5-minute presentation about a specific topic:  

Internet research on Assisted Reproductive Technology; Interviews with LGBTQ parents and/or children raised in LBGTQ families; Internet research on surrogacy and the circulation of care work.

REFLECTION PAPERS:  Students will write three short papers on assigned topics.  We will only accept papers from students who attend class the day the paper is due unless you have made a prior arrangement with us. Save your papers with comments and turn them in along with your final paper. 

First Reflection Paper, Due Sept. 9: Write a 2-3-page paper in response to the question, “Is family defined by blood? By law? By individuals?” Be sure to refer specifically to the assigned readings and represent different perspectives.

Second Reflection Paper, Due Sept. 30: Consider the fact that Mundy suggests that government should limit how many embryos can be transferred and, that it should finally start regulating the free-for-all fertility industry. She also suggests that state oversight would promote controlled studies of what reproductive science has wrought, perhaps resolving the question of whether in vitro babies are different in unwelcome ways from infants created naturally. Write a 3-4 page paper discussing this.  Give specific examples from the readings. Do you agree with Mundy? Why or why not?

Third Reflection Paper, Due Nov. 11: Write a 4-5 page on the following topic: If someone were considering transracial/transnational adoption, what issues must they consider and why? Draw directly from Briggs, Yngvesson, and the selections from Outsiders Within.

FINAL RESEARCH PAPER due Dec. 16 by 12:30 to Pam or Marlene’s mailbox in the CSI office. At that time, if you had hardcopy papers with our comments on them from the semester please turn those in as well (papers sent and returned through moodle/email need not be printed and handed in again). Students may arrange to email their final papers. If so, you will turn in your portfolio (previous hardcopy papers with comments) on the last day of class.

For your final project You will write a 12-15 page paper. This will be an in-depth study of a particular issue related to the course. You will need to present the historical, social, and political context  explain the different sides of the issue, and articulate your own position, giving the reasons why you hold this view. The paper should be well-researched and referenced. You are free to choose any topic in the syllabus to pursue in greater depth. You may also introduce a new topic/issue that is not covered specifically in the syllabus if it relates to one or more of the major themes of the class. You will need a minimum of 8 resources in addition to those required for the course, six of which must be scholarly articles and/or books.

 Your preliminary proposal is due in class on    Nov. 20          and should include:

 A 1-page description of your proposed research, including a formulation of your research question(s) and a justification for why you think this question is relevant and important in relation to a theme covered in the class or expands upon a topic or issue that is of particular interest to you related to the course.

 The start of an annotated bibliography. This means a minimum of 4 sources drawn from scholarly journal articles, books or book chapters based on library research that directly address the topic of your research. Websites can be added as sources only after the four minimum scholarly sources are discussed. Briefly describe the main arguments or perspective presented in each source and how you think this source will help you to further your understanding of the topic or question. Here is one example of an annotated entry:  


Sample Annotation:

Mooney, Chris and Sheril Kirschbaum.  Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future.  New York, NY: Basic Books, 2009.

This book sets out the theoretical foundation on which I will construct my most basic ideas about the battle between science and religion in the area of policies governing sexuality education in public schools.  Mooney and Kirshbaum argue that the fault does not lie simply with religion, but that scientists have become too removed from the general public. This is consistent with my present ideas about how extremely controversial issues in sexual and reproductive health policy should be determined.  In this book Mooney departs from the rhetorical critique of his earlier book, The Republican War on Science.  I find his arguments in Unscientific America to be much more tempered and compelling and I will draw on them in making my own policy recommendations.