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CHID 480 C: Special Topics: Advanced Study Of The History Of Ideas

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
PDL C101
Joint Sections: 
GWSS 490 B
Jey Saung

Syllabus Description:

CHID 480C: Racialized Reproduction and Biopolitics of the State (Saung)

CHID 480C/GWSS 490B: Racialized Reproduction and Biopolitics of the State


Winter Quarter 2018


T/Th 2:30pm-4:20pm        Padelford (PDL), Room C101


Instructor: Jey Saung


Office Hours: T/Th, 1:30pm-2:20pm, Padelford B111


Course Description:


Historically, the U.S. has been deeply implicated in strategies of racialized population control tactics. This course will trace these biopolitical histories by examining power as emergent in Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. Through this understanding of biopower, we will then analyze how it operates in various moments. These include the development of the field of gynecology, the development of the various modes of state control through reproduction, and globalized reproductive industries. This course will also analyze state policing of sexuality through legislation such as age of consent laws, abstinence only sex education policies, and currently proposed anti-abortion bills throughout the nation. Through these moments of overt state interventions into reproduction, we can begin to understand the role (and identities) of the (un)desireable citizen.


Course Objectives:


  • To engage with a variety of feminist and interdisciplinary viewpoints in historicizing and theorizing reproduction, race, gender, and sexuality.
  • To read, analyze and engage with biopolitical and feminist theory.
  • To develop an awareness of key contemporary issues in reproduction, critical race studies and reproduction
  • To prepare a cohesive presentation analyzing key issues and events.
  • To synthesize information from across themes, analyze and produce strong academic writing.


A Note to Students:

Taking a course that centers analyses of power, oppression, and personal experiences can be extremely challenging on levels beyond assignments and academics. Such theorizing of our very embodied identities can be very provocative, controversial, contentious, frustrating and rewarding, all at the same time. These types of conversations that have the potential to relate closely with different identities in the classroom require maintaining a classroom of openness and non-hostility. These types of conversations take a lot of work, and in order to allow all students to feel able to participate in this work, let us respect each other’s thoughts and experiences. In practical terms, this manifests in using gender-inclusive language, using preferred gender pronouns, avoiding/calling out problematic racial/ethnic/classed/sexual/(dis)abled assumptions and language.


All in all, let’s respect each other to the utmost of our abilities, create an expectation of kindness and care, and I will do my best to facilitate this process.




25%     Discussion Board Questions/Participation

15%     In-Class Presentation/Facilitation

20%     Midterm Paper (3-4pgs)

40%     Final Creative Project/Research Paper (6-8pgs)



In-Class Participation:

Class attendance and discussion are integral in your participation grade. Your participation will be assessed based on your engagement during class discussions through your questions and comments.


            Discussion Board:

To facilitate the in-class discussions, each student must have completed the assigned readings and post 1-2 thought out questions based on the readings to the discussion board on Canvas. The instructor will review the discussion board before each class and choose 2-3 questions to present to the class for discussion.

Discussion questions are due at 12:00pm the day of the class.



Presentation/Facilitation (15 min for individual, 25-40 min for pair; followed by facilitation):

On the first day of class, you will sign up to give a presentation as an individual or with a partner on a day of your choice. The topic of your presentation will correspond with the readings for the day you sign up to present.


The presentation can take on many different forms (e.g. powerpoint, prezi, boardwork, audience participation, improv theater, dance, etc…feel free to deliver the information in any way you feel could be effective!).


The presentation should include an engagement with the topic beyond just the assigned readings (Do provide a brief summary of the key points, but don’t only summarize the information!). Contextualize the topic in contemporary times and analyze links between the topic and outside sources (e.g. popular culture, social media, blogs, movies, novels, etc.). How is the topic represented in these other sources? Do you feel the readings are relevant to anything happening right now? How did you feel about the readings?


Include at minimum 2-3 questions to ask the class in the facilitation portion. The length of facilitation will be flexible, depending on how the conversation flows.


If working in a pair, the pair will receive one overall presentation grade.


Midterm Paper (3-4 pgs, double-spaced, APA or MLA):

This paper will be this course’s version of a take home midterm. Prompts will be uploaded on Canvas and we will discuss/clarify them in class (Be sure to check the schedule for dates).


The prompts will relate to class readings and film(s) we will be viewing in class.


Final Creative Project/Research Paper (6-8pgs, double-spaced, APA or MLA):


We do not have a final exam in this class and have a final project/paper instead. Please use this project/paper as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the readings throughout the entire quarter.


You are required to turn in a proposal detailing your thesis, rough topic outline, and details about your creative project (if applicable). More details forthcoming.


Due dates will be indicated in the schedule.


Additional Information:


Course Website:

Our course website is located on Canvas, and should be accessible through your MyUW account. All course PDFs, grades, and announcements will appear on Canvas. Please familiarize yourself with Canvas since you will use it frequently. If you have questions about using Canvas, please consult the UW IT Helpdesk at



Please allow up to 48 hours for email responses. Email me again if you have not heard back in this time. Something has gone awry!


Wellness and Crisis Help:

If you have any health concerns, please visit the Hall Health website at to learn about their services.


If you need immediate help, please call the Hall Health crisis line at (206) 583-1551 from 9:00am – 5:00pm, or (206) 744-2500 at any time.


If you are seeking counseling, please visit , or call (206) 543-1240, or visit 401 Schmitz Hall to either set up an appointment or receive same-day services between 8:00am – 4:00pm M/W/Th/F and between 9:30am – 4:00pm Tuesdays.


Crisis Clinic: (206) 461-3222 or (866) 427-4747


Learning Accommodations:

It is the UW’s policy to provide support services to students needing accommodations that encourage them toward self-sufficient management, including their ability to participate in course activities and meet course requirements. Students with accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor in person during Weeks 1 and 2. Students requiring support may contact Disability Resources for Students at 448 Schmitz Hall, through their website , or by calling them at (206) 543-8924 (voice) or (206) 543-8925 (voice/TTY).


Late Policies:

All assignments are due on Canvas by 11:59pm of the due date. Late papers will receive a full grade deduction (i.e. -10%, 90% à 80%) for each day late.


Students requesting a 48-hour deadline extension in extraordinary circumstances may petition the instructor with a formal written request at least 72 hours in advance of the deadline. Extensions are rare, and should not be relied upon. No extension can be assumed without a written response.


Policy on Academic Integrity:

Cheating tends to happen when students feel helpless and overwhelmed. If you are feeling this way, come to office hours as soon as possible. We will work together to get you back on track.


Academic dishonesty includes cheating, plagiarism (e.g. paraphrase or quotation without using proper citation), and resubmission of one paper for more than one course. Academic dishonesty of any kind will result in grade sanctions (a zero on the assignment), disciplinary action at the University level, or both. Consequences can be serious. Please familiarize yourself with the student academic responsibility statement, which can be found here:


Accidental plagiarism also happens quite frequently simply through a lack of familiarity with proper referencing and citation formats. Please refer to this UW citation guide with any questions:

If you are still having trouble with references and citations, check out the Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) where they offer consultations by appointment or drop-in.

Learn about citation management tools at the UW Libraries Research Commons





The course schedule is subject to change with advanced notice.



Week 1






Syllabus & Course Introductions


In Class Discussion: Tips for How to Read Theory



Week 2


Foucault and Biopolitics, Part I





Foucault, M. History of Sexuality Vol. 1, Part 1 “We ‘Other Victorians’” and Part 2 “The Repressive Hypothesis,” pp. 1-49


Recommended: Crenshaw, K. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color”





Foucault, M. History of Sexuality Vol. 1, Part 5 “Right of Death and Power over Life,” pp. 133-159


Sign up for Presentation/



Week 3


Foucault and Biopolitics, Part II




Foucault, M. “Society Must Be Defended,” Lecture at the Collège de France, March 17, 1976, pp. 239-264



Lemke, T. Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction, Chapter 3 “The Government of Living Beings: Michel Foucault,” pp. 33-53



Week 4


Agamben and the Homo Sacer





Agamben, G. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life

     Introduction, pp. 1-12

     “The Politicization of Life,” pp. 119-125

     “Biopolitics and the Rights of Man,” pp. 126-135




Lemke, T. Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction, Chapter 4 “Sovereign Power and Bare Life: Giorgio Agamben,” pp. 53-64




Week 5


Rethinking the Human





Wynter, S. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation—An Argument, pp. 257-337




Arendt, H. The Human Condition (2nd Ed.). pp. 1-37, 320-325


Midterm Prompts uploaded Today


Week 6


Social Death and Neoliberal Disavowal





Cacho, L. Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected, “Introduction: The Violence of Value,” pp. 1-33



Hong, G. Death Beyond Disavowal: The Impossible Politics of Difference, “Introduction: Neoliberal Disavowal and the Politics of the Impossible,” pp. 1-34


Midterm DUE by 11:59pm


Week 7


Racism in Science and Medicine





Roberts, D. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century

     Preface, pp. ix-xii

     Part I: Believing in Race in the Genomic Age, pp. 1-54


In-Class Film: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)




Ross, L. “Trust Black Women: Reproductive Justice and Eugenics” in Radical Reproductive Justice edited by Ross, et al., pp. 58-85




Week 8


Racism and the Law





Roberts, D. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Chapter 4 “Making Reproduction a Crime,” pp. 150-201




Roth, R. “‘She Doesn’t Deserve to be Treated Like This’: Prisons as Sites of Reproductive Justice” in Radical Reproductive Justice edited by Ross, et al., pp. 285-301


In-Class Film: TBD








Week 9


Students’ Choice!







Sign up for Individual Student Conferences







Week 10







Individual Student Conferences with Instructor




Closing Remarks/Q&A


Final Paper/Project DUE Friday, 3/9 by 11:59pm





Catalog Description: 
Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework with an interdisciplinary perspective. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:13pm