WOMENSST 297B
WOMENSST 297B: RACE, GENDER & SCIENCE
SPRING 2003
Banu Subramaniam
Monday, Wednesday, 3.35-4.50; Bartlett 205

Office Hours: M, W: 2-3 and by appointment, Bartlett 229
Phone: 577-3164; email: banu@wost.umass.edu

I. Course Description

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, science is a central and critical institution. It is the idiom/metaphor of our times. What is science? Who defines it? Who shapes it? How does our culture evaluate "good" and "bad" science, "basic" research, and "useful" research? Who determines these? Who gets to practice science? How does the institution of science function? Is there a scientific method? If so, what is it and what makes it distinct? What impact has science had historically and continue to have in the present, on culture, society, politics and economics? This course is designed to explore the intersections of gender, race, class, sexuality, science, and technology. We will explore the cultural studies of science including the historical, philosophical, sociological, anthropological, and literary studies of science. How is science related to the larger political, cultural, and social contexts? We will examine how science has grown to be the center of our cultural visions and imaginations and what that means for our futures.

II. Requirements

Class Participation: The quality of the course, and the value of the experience for all of us, depends upon careful preparation for class by each one of us. It is imperative that you attend all classes, complete the reading assignments before class, and be prepared to contribute to the class discussion. Your grade will be based on the quality (not to be confused with quantity) of your participation in class. (20% of your grade). Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences can result in a reduction of at least one letter grade. If you are absent for a class, you are required to turn in a 2 page reflection paper based on the readings assigned for that day. The paper should summarize the readings demonstrating you have read them; and reflect on the readings demonstrating that you have understood them and their implications. The paper is due the next class.

Written Requirements: There will be four written assignments. Content and form of the essays will be discussed in class.

  1. An analytic and reflective essay (4-5 pages) based on the material we have covered Jan 29-Feb 26. Due in class Wednesday, March 5 (20% of your grade)

    The next series of essay will be based on a case study you will work on during the semester:

  2. An essay (4-5 pages) due in class Wednesday, April 9 (20% of your grade)
  3. A critical evaluation (2 pages) of a student paper due Tuesday, April 14 (10% of your grade)
  4. Final paper (10 pages) due Monday, May 19 by 5 pm (30% of your grade)

There will also be in-class written assignments in every class. While these will not be graded, they will contribute towards the class participation grade.

III. Case Study

The last section of the course is organized around case studies. During the first two weeks of class, each student will pick a case study they will explore during the semester. You will work in groups of 2-3. The topics will centrally engage with the sciences and their scientific, political, cultural, economic ramifications. Students will generate a literature review on the topic, make a case for or against the topic, and pick the readings for class discussion on the day of their oral presentation.

III. Texts

Available at Food for Thought Books, E. Pleasant Street, Amherst

Books and Reader are On Reserve in the Library and the Women's Studies Office, (Bartlett 208).

Students are also required to read the Science Times of the New York Times, published as a section of the paper every Tuesday. You can access this through the NYT website (www.nytimes.com) - free only on the day of publication or read it at the UMass or Amherst public library. We will discuss it every Thursday during class.

IV. SCHEDULE OF READINGS

WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION

Wednesday, January 29 - Introduction to the course

WEEK 2: BACKGROUND

Monday, February 3 - Why should we care?

Wednesday, Feb 5 - Who Gets to Do Science?

WEEK 3: DOING RESEARCH

Monday, February 10- Research

Wednesday, Feb 12 - Case of Sara Baartman

WEEK 4: OBJECTIVITY & METHOD: VALUE NEUTRAL?

Tuesday, February 18 - (Monday Schedule for Presidents Day)

Wednesday, February 19 - Politics of Knowledge

WEEK 5: SCIENCE'S APPLICATIONS AND APPROPRIATIONS

February 24 - Science's Technologies and Applications

February 26 - Early Non-Western Scientific Traditions

WEEK 6: SCIENCE CONSTRUCTS DIFFERENCE: RACE

March 3: Definitions

Paper #1 due Wednesday, March 5: Reflect on the content of the class to this point. Choose 2-3 points that stand out for you to help focus your responses and/or critique and write a critical analysis - take risks, and incorporate your ideas about the subjects, but remember to include the content from the class readings. Discuss insights gained or limitations in the analysis. I want to know that you have read, understood, and analyzed the class material. (5 pages)

March 5 - Definitions (contd.)

**Analytic Paper 1 Due Today**

WEEK 7: SCIENCE CONSTRUCTS DIFFERENCE: SEXUALITY

March 10- Intersexuality

March 12-Sexualities


March 17- March 21 - SPRING BREAK

WEEK 8: SCIENCE CONSTRUCTS DIFFERENCE: SEX/GENDER

March 24-Feminist Science Fiction

March 26- Sex Differences

WEEK 9: INTRODUCTION TO GENES AND GENETICS

March 31- Mendelian Genetics

April 2 - Quantitative Genetics

WEEK 10: GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

April 7 - Video - Harvest of Fear (Part 1)

April 9 - Video - Harvest of Fear (Part 2)

Paper #2 due, in class, Wednesday, April 9 - During the last class, you will exchange your paper with another student. Critically analyze and evaluate the paper. Has s/he understood the material? If yes, why? If not, why not? What have they excluded? What material have they not considered? Have they made a persuasive case? How could the student have further developed the paper? What grade would you give the paper? (2 page evaluation) Evaluation Due in Class, Monday, April 14.

WEEK 11: CASE STUDIES

April 14 - Case Study - Genetically Modified Organisms
Evaluation (and attached Paper #2) Due in Class Today

April 16 - Case Study #1

WEEK 12: CASE STUDIES (contd.)

April 21 - Patriots Day (Holiday)

April 23 - Case Study #2

WEEK 13: CASE STUDIES (contd.)

April 28 - Case Study #3

April 30 - Case Study #4

WEEK 14: CASE STUDIES (contd.)

May 5 - Video (Secrets of the Psychics)

May 7 - Case Study #5

WEEK 15: CASE STUDIES (contd.)

May 12- Case Study #6

May 14 - Conclusion and Wrap-Up