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Cluster Courses in Science Studies, 2011-12

FALL 2011

Sociology of Sexuality
Héctor Carrillo Wed. 2:00-5:00, Parkes Hall 222

Description: This graduate seminar asks the following questions: What do we learn about society by studying sexuality? What do we learn about sexuality by studying society? We will focus on sociological approaches to studying sexuality and link sexuality studies to broader sociological questions about culture, social interaction, social inequality, globalization, social movements, science, health, and public policy. We will explore various theoretical and methodological approaches that have been used in sociological studies of sexuality, including those that guide sexuality-related analyses of meanings and identities, practices and behaviors, politics, power, relationships, population movement, collective identities and social movements, and morality and social control.

Literature of the History of Science: Histories of Objectivity
Ken Alder Wed. 2:00-5:00, University Library 3622

Description: In this course we read recent scholarship in the history of science to examine changing notions of what counts as objective knowledge. Our goal is to open up the processes by which certain objects and concepts come to be marked out as “natural” and hence (supposedly) beyond the realm of social and political interrogation. But how was the boundary between the natural and artificial drawn in the first place? How were the “facts of nature” made into the sorts of particularities which could be translated across time, space, and cultures? And how was the validity of this knowledge influenced by who claimed ownership of it and its applications?

Our readings will span the period from early modern Europe to twenty-first-century America, and will cover topics ranging from the role of artisanal labor in the Scientific Revolution to on-going debates over climate change. We will also consider such topics as the globalization of science and its role in colonization, and the ways in which the bio-medical sciences have reinforced and subverted assumptions about sexual difference and race. In each case, we will focus on the relationship between the claim that scientific know-how was objective and the sort of social action it was said to license..

Studies in French Philosophy: Reading Foucault
Penelope Deutscher Tues and Thurs, 6:00-7:20

Note: This is a 300-level undergraduate course, but Prof. Deutscher allows graduate students to sit in on the lectures and provides additional readings/assignments for interested graduate students.

Description: This course offers an overview of the work of one of the most influential late twentieth century French philosophers, Michel Foucault. Focusing on his studies of madness, the medical gaze, incarceration, prisons and other institutions, sexual and confessing subjects, subjects seeking truth, knowledge, freedom or liberation, students will have the opportunity to consolidate their understanding of Foucault's use of the terms: archaeology, power, biopower, discipline, interiority, resistance, strategy, dispositif, governmentality, genealogy, truth, knowledge, ethics and aesthetics of existence, through a full length course devoted to a survey of readings from his main texts. Foucault 's work is encountered in a number of disciplines spanning the social sciences and the humanities (including sociology, history comparative literary studies, political science, gender and race studies, French, philosophy, science in human culture (and so on).

This course is a cross- disciplinary resource for those seeking a more systematic introduction to, or consolidation of, in his work. The course is oriented towards advanced undergraduates (other students should email the professor) with a separate discussion session offered for graduate students. READING: Paul Rabinow (ed), The Foucault Reader, New York, Pantheon, 1984. Students are also asked to fully read their choice of two from the following: Foucault's History of Madness, The Birth of the Clinic, The Order of Things, Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality (volumes 1, 2 or 3); Society Must Be Defended.

Contemporary Social Theory: Modern Projects: Critics, Mechanisms, Skeptics
Wendy Espeland Mon. 9:30-12:00, 1812 Chicago Ave.

Description: This class investigates modernity. It includes selections that illustrate how various thinkers have conceived of what it means to "be modern" or "post-modern," critiques of modernity that have profoundly shaped our images of it, and skeptics who challenge the idea of modernity. It also includes sections that investigate in detail what I call "mechanisms" of modernity: procedures, devices, approaches or strategies that people adopt or promulgate in their efforts to be rational, manage uncertainty and conflict, or attain efficiency in various institutional arenas. Readings will include works by Michel Foucault, Lorraine Daston, Anthony Giddens, Bruno Latour, Jurgen Habermas, James Scott and Ted Porter, among others.


Art, Science, Prints
in conjunction with the Block Museum show “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge”
Claudia Swan

Description: TBA
The show opens at Harvard in the fall and comes to the Block in the winter quarter.

Seminar in French Philosophy: Biopolitics After Foucault
Penelope Deutscher Thursdays, 6:00-9:00 pm

Description: This course focuses on a number of critical responses to Foucauldian biopolitics in the context of feminist theory; recent Italian philosophy; Foucault’s College de France lectures; and deconstructive philosophy. Familiarity with Foucault’s History of Sexuality vol 1 is presupposed—where necessary you are asked to read this before the first class. Terms on which we focus are: immunity, auto-immunity, the society that must be defended, reproductive biopolitics, the (arguably) suicidal tendencies of biopower, biopolitics and democracy, and precarious life.

Texts to be considered will be selected from Foucault’s History of Sexuality 1, Abnormal, Society Must be Defended and Security, Territory, Population; Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire; Roberto Esposito’s Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy; Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life; Ed Cohen A Body Worth Defending: Immunity, Biopolitics and the Apotheosis of the Modern Body; Nikolas Rose, The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedecine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century; Judith Butler, Precarious Life; Derrida’s Rogues and interviews in Philosophy in a Time of Terror.

Sociology of Science
Charles Camic Mondays, 9:30-12:20

Note: This undergraduate course is open to graduate students with instructor consent.

Description: Science as a social system. Personality, social class, and cultural factors in scientific development, creativity, choice of role, simultaneous invention, and priority disputes. Social effects on objectivity and bias.

Sociology of Health, Illness, and Biomedicine
Steven Epstein

Description: This course will provide an introduction to central topics in the sociology of medicine while also suggesting how that field is being redefined and reinvigorated by science and technology studies. We will seek to understand health, health care, and biomedicine by exploring multiple domains: the work sites in which health professionals interact with one another and with their clients; the research settings where medical knowledge and technologies are generated; the cultural arenas within which ideas of health and disease circulate; the market relations that produce health care as a commodity; the institutions that transform social inequalities into health disparities; the social movements that challenge biomedical practices and the authority of experts; and the bodies and selves that experience and are remade by illness. Although many of the themes we will address have a long history, the emphasis will be on developments of the last several decades. The course focuses largely (but not completely) on the United States, though we will try whenever possible to place developments in a global context. While the majority of the scholarship we will consider is sociological, some of it is drawn from other fields. Students from other disciplines are welcome.

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