Section 001, Fall 2018
Section Description Provided by Instructor
This class will explore the legislation of fear. With the rise of Zika virus, some public health agencies in the US and Latin America have advised women to delay pregnancy; this has intersected in predictable if incoherent ways with already vexed debates about sexuality, gendered poverty, access to contraception and abortion. When the Ebola crisis was at its peak, there were hyperbolic calls for walled borders and quarantine of those who posed no medical risk. At the height of the HIV epidemic, moral panic far outstripped the actual risks of transmission, stigmatizing homosexuals as untouchable in many places. And, in some figurations, the lead-poisoned water supply in Flint, Michigan was the result not merely of bureaucratic inattention, but also of affective aversion to the ethnically- and racially-marked humanity of its residents.
Disaster narratives of invasion by contagious bodies (and antibodies) inflect immigration policy, educational access, employment opportunity, rights to movement, and public accommodation. They draw lines, they reinforce circles of identity, they monster-ize and idealize, they underwrite superstitions as well as forge truths. We will read histories of a variety of epidemiological and ecological crises, including outbreaks of syphilis, hanta virus, tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, poisonings from toxic spills, putative invasions of “Africanized bees,” and leprosy. We will study how the imagination of disaster may or may not prepare a society for actual disaster; and how ideologies of calamity, contamination and cleanliness operate at the intersection of law, politics and the regulation of public health.
The course will be graded on class participation (30 percent) and a final paper (70 percent). Class participation includes attendance and participation; in addition you will be required to submit weekly reflections of no more than 2 pages, summarizing your thoughts about the reading and posing at least one question for group discussion. The final paper may be on a topic of your choosing, subject to my approval; and should be of approximately 20-25 pages.
R 4:20-6:10 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Disclaimer: This is the textbook information that has been entered as of today.