Reproduction: Gender, Race, and Power

Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

health science, public health, bioethics
English literature, theater studies

This program will offer an overview of human reproduction, paying particular attention to gender and race as vectors of power that affect how reproduction is discussed, legislated, and experienced in the United States. We will explore interrelated lines of inquiry using literature, philosophy, sociology, ethics, human biology, and public health texts; in other words, this program will not attempt to construct a systematic history, but will rather use a series of case studies to develop an intersectional analysis of reproduction as a phenomenon that cannot be separated from issues of race and gender.

The study of reproduction is, by its very nature, interdisciplinary. Students who are successful in this program will gain a foundation in reproductive physiology, basic genetics, and endocrinology, and they will apply their learning to specific issues such as the susceptibility of the reproductive body to societal influences and stress through epigenetics. Our examination of the biology of reproduction will include some lab work in microscopy and dissections, and students will demonstrate their learning through workshops, problem sets, and examinations.

Biology is also shaped and defined by cultural norms. Accordingly, we will collectively dismantle the idea that women are defined as such by an innate reproductive capacity, and the syllabus will include texts that address the experiences of trans and gender-nonconforming individuals. We will also discuss the ways in which contraception, abortion, forced sterilization, genetic testing, and other forms of reproductive control both reflect, and have been used to perpetuate, systemic racism. In all aspects of the program, students will be expected to engage in thoughtful and occasionally challenging conversations about how power and privilege operate on a variety of bodies, including our own.

Through both formal and informal assignments, this program will help students learn to listen and observe attentively, do close and critical reading with challenging texts, contribute clear and well-developed writing, make relevant contributions to seminar discussions, and acquire and demonstrate physiologic reasoning skills. In our pursuit of diverse perspectives and approaches, we’ll welcome a variety of health care providers as guest speakers, and will participate in a few field trips to local clinics, hospitals, and birth centers. The reading list will include texts such as Michel Foucault’s TheHistory of Sexuality , Dorothy Roberts’ Fatal Invention , and Rickie Solinger’s Pregnancy and Power. In order to foster critical engagement with these and other texts, students will be asked to complete weekly papers as well as integrative essays and in-class reflective writing assignments. In the second quarter of the program, students will be given the opportunity to design and execute a self-directed independent research project.

Program Details

Fields of Study

biology gender and women's studies health literature physiology queer studies sociology

Preparatory For

health professions; social work; activism; graduate school in the humanities, sociology, feminist studies, and political change

Quarters

Fall Open Winter Conditional

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location

Olympia

Time Offered

Day

Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 10am (Sem II A3105)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

Fees

$25 per quarter for entrance fees and tickets. 

May be offered again in

2019-20

Revisions

DateRevision
2017-11-15This program will accept new enrollment without signature. Students joining the program will be expected to complete some readings and a writing assignment prior to the start of winter.
2017-01-23This program is now offered to Juniors and Seniors.