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What's Love Got To Do With It?

Fall & Winter 2002-2003

Legislative Hearings on Thursday will be in L2127 (9-11) and L4004 (12:30-2:30).

Schedule of conferences with Chuck: this link

Click here for the Legislative Hearings schedule.

Guidelines for self-evaluations, this link. Suggestions for writing a self-evaluation are found here.

The Final (Potluck) will be on Friday, March 14, following the last two Legislative Hearings. Place to be announced.

Program Description

This program explores the historical evolution and contemporary dilemmas of “courtship,” marriage, sexual mores, and family life. Much of our focus is on heterosexual relations, but not because we assume them to be the only natural or healthy relations. It is precisely because we acknowledge the frequency and viability of alternative forms of sexuality, love, and commitment, that we take this critical look at the historical development, dynamics, and conflicts in heterosexual romance, courting, sexuality, and marriage.

Many of our topics will be controversial. We seek not simple answers but intelligent questions to inform our study. Students are expected to consider several different points of view, to fairly evaluate arguments with which they disagree, and to explore the possible contradictions or exceptions to their own positions. You should expect to back up your position with concrete examples and logical argumentation, and be prepared to be challenged to defend your positions. We will help you do this better in both your seminar contributions and your writing.
The starting assumption of this class is that these matters are historically variable and to a greater or lesser degree socially constructed rather than biologically determined. We will therefore examine the evolution of sexual and marital norms in American history, attempting to relate these changes to the subjective experience or image of love and marriage found in fiction, poetry, and memoirs of the time. During the second quarter, we will use our historical information to examine various contemporary theoretical and practical issues. We will seek to understand patterns of change and to evaluate explanations about how and why these patterns develop. At the same time, we will be critical of universal frameworks that homogenize the experience of different groups.

This program will prepare students for more advanced work in a wide range of disciplines. In addition, it will sharpen skills of critical reading, in-depth analysis and argumentation. Workshops will emphasize grounding students in quantitative reasoning and expository writing. A side benefit, but not the main intent of the program, will be a better understanding of our own interpersonal concerns and conflicts, as we learn to put them in context, understand their origins, and see the larger social forces that affect even the supposedly most private, individual aspects of our lives. The field research component of the program will require students to spend a full day (either Tuesday or Wednesday) in the public schools. We hope that will provide an added set of experiences that will be helpful in future work. Because this is a demanding and intensive program, students should not normally attempt to work more than 15 hours a week.

faculty contact info.
last updated: 3/11/2003