2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Parents, Friends, and Lovers: Historical and Sociological Perspectives on Close Relationships


Spring 2013 quarter

Stephanie Coontz history, women's studies, family studies
Fields of Study
history, psychology, sociology and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
sociology, history, family studies, research, social work, teaching, family law and counseling.

This program explores the historical evolution and current dynamics of family life, sexual mores and marriage. We also look at the changing community and work patterns that affect the way we conceive and conduct our close relationships.

The class begins with a brief examination of the variability of emotions and relationships  sometimes viewed as “natural” or “traditional.” We then briefly move through the transition from colonial and revolutionary times to the emergence of a new middle-class model of marriage and parenting in the 19 th century, which we will contrast to trends in working-class and racial-ethnic families.

In the second half of the program we discuss the evolution of 20th-century family patterns and explore the dramatic shifts that have occurred in family formation and relationship norms over the past 50 years. Students will also do individual projects that will culminate in presentations at the end of the quarter. These will cover topics such as the causes and consequences of divorce, the changing dynamics of cohabitation, singlehood and marriage, the emergence of new sexual norms, legal issues connected with changing family structures and practices, the rise of biracial and multiracial families, and debates over same-sex marriage and parenting.

This program will emphasize advanced writing and revising of critical essays. Students must have a strong mastery of grammar, syntax, and paragraphing to be successful.  Students should expect to put in 40-50 hours a week between class and homework time.


Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
October 15th, 2012 This program has been cancelled.
March 5th, 2012 New offering added.