LSJ 491/POLS 405: Sex, Rights, and Power
OR: What’s Gov Got to Do With It?
University of Washington
Summer B Term 2020
Email (best form of contact): firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: Mondays & Tuesdays 2:15 - 3:15pm
From sex work to abortion, polygamy to pornography, sexual behavior is a central topic in politics. Given the widespread assumption that government is intended to regulate public affairs, the saturation of private sexual acts in government discourse and policy is puzzling. This course utilizes a sociolegal approach to examine governmental criminalization, regulation, and intervention into one of the most private areas of citizens’ lives—their sexuality. Course readings and discussions will center on the question of government concern for sexual behavior: how and why is the state concerned with the sexual behavior of its citizens? What has state concern for sexual behavior meant for citizenship and rights more broadly? By focusing on these questions, this course introduces students to emergent literatures at the intersection of law, political science, history, and gender studies. Students will explore the relationship between the state and sexual behavior to better understand how sexual discipline has been legally and discursively inscribed into governance. Further, students will interrogate the role law has played in the construction of sexual normalcy and the punishment of sexual deviance. As a whole, the course seeks to illuminate the sociolegal dimensions of erotic life.
Note on course content
Some of the content of this course will be about sexual violence. We will be discussing rape and other forms of sexual abuse in class and you are expected to complete assignments concerning these topics. Some of the readings and films for this course may include narrative, testimony, and descriptions of sexual violence. For some, this class may be both an intellectual and emotional project. If you feel unable to complete an assignment for personal reasons, please me concerning alternative work.
Take Home Midterm Exam (25%) DUE August 10th
Reading Questions (20%)
You will sign up for one week where you are responsible for bringing 3 discussion questions to class. The discussion questions should be open ended questions that will spark an interesting discussion in the class. At least one of the questions should engage current events as they relate to the readings. During your week, you will be responsible for running the first part of class discussion around the readings. After class, submit upload your discussion questions to Canvas under the Assignments tab.
Zine/Public Information Campaign (35%) DUE August 23rd
Your final project will be a public information campaign of your choice. This can take many forms such as a Zine, a presentation, a podcast, a multi-prong social media campaign, a manifesto. Further directions to come.
- Presentation Assignments
- Foucault, Selections, A History of Sexuality Volume 1
- Rubin, "Thinking Sex"
- Murray, “Marriage as Punishment”
- Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex”
- Emilio & Freedman, “Race & Sexuality”
- Kandaswamy, “State Austerity”
- Kaba et al, “How to End the Criminalization of America’s Mothers” https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/how-end-criminalization-americas-mothers/
- Canaday, “Heterosexuality as a Legal Regime”
- MacKinnon, Only Words (Selections)
- No Class (Midterm)
- Smith v. Doe
- Hamilton-Smith, “The Agony & the Ecstasy of #MeToo” (Guest Speaker)
- Borchert, “The New Iron Closet”
- Bassichis, Lee, & Spade “Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement”
August 17th **Guest Speakers from Collective Justice
- "Critical Resistance-Incite! Statement on Gender Violence And the Prison-Industrial Complex"
- Kim, "From carceral feminism to transformative justice"
Roe v. Wade
- Research Meetings
- Research Meetings
Graded work assessment:
Written work in the A (3.5-4.0) range is characterized by a strikingly perceptive, persuasive, and creative analytical claim; comprehensive synthesis and analysis of the course material; straightforward yet sophisticated organization of thoughts and error-free prose. Written work in the B (2.5-3.4) range is characterized by sound, original, and reasonably thoughtful argument/thesis statement; competent analysis of various course material, logical organization; and clear and error-free prose. Written work in the C (1.5-2.4) range is characterized by a relatively underdeveloped, simplistic, or derivative argument/thesis statement; partial, inconsistent, or faulty analysis of course material; convoluted organization; and awkward, imprecise, or otherwise distracting prose. Written work in the D (0.7-2.3) range is characterized by incoherent or extremely confusing argument; superficial or fleeting engagement with the course material; chaotic or irrational organization; and error-riddled prose. Written work that lacks any argument or analysis and is unorganized earns a failing grade.
My aim is to give every student a fair grade that reflects their understanding of, and engagement with, the course material and course participation. If you feel that you have been graded unfairly on a paper, I am happy to meet with you to discuss it. The grade appeals policy is as follows:
- Carefully read and re-read comments
- After 24 hours, re-read comments
- Write a memo that details why you believe there is a grading error. You must initiate this meeting within one week of receiving your grading assignment. At that time and after meeting I may re-grade your paper. Note that your grade may increase or
Late work policy:
We're in the middle of a global pandemic so you will be extended a lot of grace. Just reach out to me ASAP if something comes up so we can work it out together.
Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Cases of suspected cheating and plagiarism will be referred to the Arts and Sciences Committee on Academic Conduct, and may result in a grade of 0.0 for the assignment in question. University policies and guidelines regarding cheating and plagiarism can be found at https://depts.washington.edu/grading/pdf/AcademicResponsibility.pdf (Links to an external site.)
Disability and accommodations
Students needing academic accommodations for a disability should contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz Hall, V: (206) 543-8924, TTY: (206) 543-8925, email@example.com. If you have a letter from Disability Resources for Students documenting the need for academic accommodations, please present this letter to the instructor so that accommodations can be discussed and arranged.
The LSJ, POLS and Jackson School Writing Center (http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/ (Links to an external site.)) and the Odegaard Writing & Research Center (http://depts.washington.edu/owrc/ (Links to an external site.)) are excellent resources available to you for written work. I encourage you to make appointments with writing center tutors to work on your research paper.
Sexual violence resources on campus and in Seattle
- Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA) (http://sarva.asuw.org/ (Links to an external site.))
- Health & Wellness Student Advocate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Student Counseling Center (206-543-1240)
- Title IX Compliance Services (Amanda Payne, coordinator, 206-221-7932)
- UW Police / UWPD Victim Advocate (206-543-9937)
- Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress (206-744-1600)
- Sexual Violence Law Center (206-832-3632)
- Northwest Network (support for LGBT and queer survivors of abuse) (206-568-7777)
I support undocumented students. Leadership Without Borders (206-543-4635), which is staffed by undocumented students and staff, and the UW Dream Project (206-616-5791) are excellent resources.
Respect in the classroom
This course involves material and experiences that are deeply personal, political, and emotionally charged. While spirited debate is encouraged and expected, discussion must remain respectful and supportive at all times. In order to learn together we must learn from each other, and thus every voice is important in our conversation. I invite students to approach course material with a sense of openness – that is, to let material, themes, concepts, and questions we raise in class to challenge your sense of reality and, at the same time submit what you read and discuss in class to thoughtful skepticism and critique.