2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Difference and Desire: sex, race and family structure in the United States


Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 quarters

Julianne Unsel U.S. history
Fields of Study
American studies, gender and women's studies and history
Preparatory for studies or careers in
the arts, social sciences, education, psychology, and health professions.

How do the personal identities and everyday lives of a people come together to shape the social and political worlds of a nation like the United States? How do national social and political worlds, in turn, shape individual identities and lives? Where do these worlds and identities come from? What forces contribute to them? How do we shape, and how are we shaped by, the worlds we find ourselves in today?

We will explore these and related questions with an emphasis on three elements fundamental to shaping daily life in the American present and past – sex, race and family structure. Our program will adopt the centermost goal of all historical study – to understand the lives and events that have come before us so that we may better live our own lives within the social and political worlds we are responsible to today.

We will inquire how popular and scientific notions of sexual and racial difference and desire have shaped social life and politics in the U.S., from settlement to the present. We will examine how these compound notions have shaped American history, how history has shaped them, and how both have bounded collective and individual articulations of sexual and racial identity, difference and desire.

In fall quarter, we will study the diverse array of family structures, sexual practices, and economic relationships that developed in the U.S. from settlement to the end of slavery. In winter, we will examine the great changes in these institutions from the closing of the western frontier through the end of the world wars. In spring, we will place our own lives in proximate context with a close examination of the true revolutions in social life and scientific understanding of the past fifty years.

In all three quarters, we will read in several disciplines, including U.S. social and political history, history of western medicine, history of sexuality, feminist and LBGTQ theory, and the psychology of desire. Weekly classes will include reading and discussion seminars, history lectures, student panel presentations, library study periods, and occasional documentary and new classic Hollywood feature film screenings.

All program assignments will help us grow in both the art and craft of clear communication and well-supported argumentation. They will include critical reading, college writing, research in peer-reviewed literature, black and white film photography, and public outreach and speaking. Fall/winter photography components will use classic 35mm cameras to explore portraiture as a medium for self-identification and expression. Spring internship opportunities will bring our program themes to social outreach agencies and groups in our local community.

This program will offer appropriate support to all students ready to do advanced work. All activities will support student peer-to-peer teaching, personal responsibility for learning and achievement, contemplative study habits, and intensive skills development. Transfer students are welcome.

Academic Website
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
Fall $105 for entrance fees.
Internship Possibilities
Spring: libraries, social services, youth outreach with faculty approval.
Research Possibilities
Fall/Winter/Spring: academic research in peer reviewed literature
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 7th, 2013 This program is not accepting new enrollment in spring quarter.
August 8th, 2012 New program added.