BIS 490C (Senior Seminar): Care

Winter 2006
Monday and Wednesday 1:15 – 3:20 PM, UW1-391

Colin Danby, University of Washington, Bothell
Room UW1-245    (425) 352-5285
Office Hours Monday and Wednesday 11 AM - noon and 3:30 - 4:30 PM and by appointment.

A seminar is a conversation.  It is a conversation sustained over a period of time by a group of people who are all engaged in scholarly research.  It is intended to be much more egalitarian than a typical class.  This is why this seminar comes at the end of your undergraduate career -- you now know enough, and have enough skills in critical thinking, to participate and add to a  group endeavor.  This is why seminars are relatively small.  Everyone speaks, everyone presents, everyone has responsibility for the success of the overall endeavor.

You may have been taught to regard papers as wholly individual efforts.  But while your paper is still ultimately your responsibility, a seminar makes it, at least in part, a group process.  A seminar is a place to try out ideas, get suggestions, and hear what others are doing.  It is a way to reduce the isolation of writing a paper.  We will discuss our progress on papers throughout the first seven weeks, and present our papers to each other during the last three weeks.

Our seminar's topic: Since the 1982 publication of Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice: Psychological theory and Women’s Development, the concept of “care” has found wide resonance in philosophy and social science, in particular as a way to understand the lived experience of being a woman or a man. Philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, and economists have contributed to a rich transdisciplinary literature that has enlarged our ability to comprehend the world and to think ethically about it. “Care” has also produced controversy, most interestingly in the “care-justice debate” among feminist philosophers. In our reading, therefore, we will be working our way into a conversation that has underway for over two decades among a variety of scholars, a conversation that has also had resonance for a variety of questions of policy. It is unlikely that this class will reveal a single essence, or core concept, of "care." Rather, you should look for it to open up a variety of questions about how we understand society.

I will provide a very broad overview of the care literature during our first class meeting. The best way to get into the subject is to start doing our readings, but there is an online annotated bibliography by Virginia Dudley which is a smart overview of the care literature as of about ten years ago.

You are expected to participate actively in our seminar meetings and in our online discussion, undertake a program of research into a specific topic, communicate the results of that research to the seminar, and write a substantial paper drawing on your research and seminar interactions. Grading:

Final paper: 50%
Completing paper-related tasks on time: 5%
In-class participation: 20%
E-participation and responses: 15%
Article or chapter presentation: 5%
Presenting your own work and commenting on one other paper: 5%

Paper: I will work closely with you to help you produce a strong final paper, including individual meetings and written feedback on outlines and drafts.  In general I am more interested in quality than quantity -- a tightly-argued 15-page paper is better than a rambling piece of writing twice that long.  (While I do not grade on length, think of 15 pages of analytical writing as a working minimum.  If you need additional descriptive writing, or writing that summarizes other work, think of that as additional to the 15 pages of your own analysis -- the paper should not consist mainly of description, or summary of the work of others.  The paper should raise an issue or question related to the seminar's topic and examine it carefully.  It should show a firm grasp of relevant theory, appropriate use of evidence, and a clear logic.  Since you have considerable freedom in your choice of topic, I will leave detailed discussion of the papers to our individual meetings. 

The librarians and I will work with you to help you locate useful readings, and you will see that I have put quite a bit of the existing literature on reserve, in both electronic and non-electronic form.

People often ask if I have any preference about what style of reference you use. I have no preference. Choose a system that you are comfortable with and stick to it. The key thing is to get used to writing down complete references, including page numbers.

Paper-related tasks: You will see on the schedule a series of five paper-related assignments with due dates.  These are intended to improve communication, reduce the possibility for procrastination, and avoid a situation in which you invest time in inappropriate work.

In-class participation: Vital to our success.  I can give you feedback along the way about participation assessments. You should be prepared to discuss readings when you come into class, and you need to pay close attention to presentations made by others, and be ready to join a subsequent discussion.  Be sure and bring copies of readings with you to class; if possible bring previous readings along too, in case we need to refer to them.

Electronic Postings: We will have a threaded discussion of the course readings.  I will ask all participants to post, by 12 noon on the morning of class, a response to the reading for that class.  I will provide some guidelines and sample questions for each reading.   (Instructions on using e-post)  Expectations are:

  • Posted article responses that critically and thoughtfully explore that the authors write.  (In other words they should not be limited to summary, or to very general reflections).
  • Thoughtful responses to postings by others, and/or additional reflective postings of your own.

I will assess a grade for the totality of your e-postings and responses at the end of the class.  This does not mean that you have to post as much as the most-prolific person in the class, or that everything you post has to be tightly argued and essay-quality.  And you are welcome, as a group, to use the e-discussion for whatever purposes you want.   My interest as an instructor is simply that your postings include active, thoughtful, engagement with the readings.

Article or chapter presentation:  You will choose a reading on which you will lead discussion.  There are three guidelines for these presentations:

  1. The purpose of these presentations is not to summarize the reading. This is because (a) few things are more boring than sitting through 15 minutes of summary (b) if you summarize at great length, you're assuming that other participants have not done the reading, which is a little bit insulting to them. At most, pull out two or three main points, or say a few words about how the overall argument of the reading is structured.
  2. What, then, is the purpose of a presentation if it's not summary? Essentially the purpose is to start a discussion. There are several ways in which you might do this (what you choose to do is up to you): (a) you can link the reading to other readings in the course (similarities, differences, agreements, disagreements) (b) you can link the reading to some actual example or problem or real-world application (c) you can make a critique of the reading (d) you can try reframing the reading: ask what happens if we shift the author's question a little, or change the author's priorities or question some of her assumptions. I am happy to meet or talk with you beforehand if you have difficulty doing this, but I stress that doing a good presentation requires that you really think hard about what the reading does. It may be useful if a presentation concludes with some questions for the seminar group as a whole.
  3. Think in terms of 10-15 minutes total. You may find it useful to make a little handout or put up a picture on the board, but please don't feel pressure to do anything flashy or elaborate. The best kind of presentation does not dazzle people, it gets people thinking in new ways and asking new questions.

Presenting your own work and commenting on one other paper:  In addition to presenting their own work (for about 10 minutes), each participant will be assigned to be a "discussant" on one other person's paper, responsible for about 5 minutes of comment and reflection on it, and the encouragement of subsequent discussion.  I will say more about how to do that later in the course.

The minimum passing grade in senior seminars is 2.5.

The five paper-related tasks should be turned in on time.  They will receive no credit if they are turned in late, though they will be read.  E-responses to readings, to be satisfactory, need to be on time.   Late submissions of the final paper are not a good idea!  If I have time to read them, they will be subject to my normal late-paper policy, which is that late submissions will be penalized 15% (of the total possible grade) up to the first week they are late; 30% thereafter, but I make no commitment to reading late final essays.  It's your responsibility to organize your life so work gets done on time.  Please do not tell me about malfunctioning disks, printers, and so forth.  There are no exceptions to the late-work policy -- there simply is no way that I can fairly assess the  personal emergencies, job pressures, and other factors that impinge on different people's lives, and adjust their assignments accordingly.

All assignments are due in class.  The normal and most secure means of submitting work is on paper, delivered into my hands in the class when the assignment is due.  I am also willing to accept work in e-mailed messages or as e-mailed attachments, but you send things this way at your own risk: I cannot take responsibility for server errors or for any of the other things that might go wrong between your effort to send a file and my ability to print the thing out.  If you are going to e-mail me assignments please consult these additional notes on sending things electronically.  Assignments will be considered late if they are turned in on paper, or arrive electronically, after the end of the class period in which they are due.

There is no reason to tell me if you are going to miss class.  However if a serious illness or personal emergency is going to affect course work over a week or more, please tell me so we can plan  how to get you back on track as quickly as possible.  For a few other points see Occasionally-Asked Questions Here are some notes on formats for written work and a few notes on how I assess writing.

Our scheduled classes are times for work.  Focusing on the task at hand is important for your own learning; it also makes you a better participant in small-group discussions and other activities that will help others learn.  It is therefore expected that you will use class time for class work, and that you will not distract others from class work.  It is my responsibility, and prerogative, to determine what is appropriate classroom behavior.

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services in the Counseling Center, Room 145, (425) 352-5307, (425) 352-5303 (TDD).  If you have a documented disability on file with the DSS office, please have your DSS counselor contact me.

You are reading a web document.  It can also be located by putting "danby" into the faculty directory accessible via the main uwb page, or by putting "colin danby" into a search engine like google.  Changes in readings or assignments will be made on the web version, as well as being announced in class.  If you miss classes you  need to check for any modifications to assignments.

I find contact with students outside of class extremely useful in improving what I do in the classroom, and I encourage you to see the regular class time as only part of the service provided to you in this course. Please feel no hesitation about contacting me outside of class, about using the scheduled office hours, and about setting up meetings at other times. Aside from visiting during the scheduled office hours or chatting after class, the best way to get in touch is e-mail.  I don't use voice mail.

This course includes writing, and it is assumed that written work is your own, and that when another person’s ideas or words are used they are fully acknowledged. This is what the UWB catalog says:

"Plagiarism is the use of the creations, ideas or words of someone else without formally acknowledging the author or source through the use of quotation marks, references, and the like. Plagiarizing is stealing someone’s work and presenting it as one’s own work or thought. Student work in which plagiarism occurs will ordinarily not be accepted as satisfactory by the instructor, and may lead to disciplinary action against the student submitting it. Any student who is uncertain whether his or her use of the work of others constitutes plagiarism should consult the course instructor for guidance before formally submitting the course work involved."


You must use quotation marks and references whenever you use someone else's writing.  Mere paraphrase does not exempt you from this requirement.  Here are some additional notes on plagiarism.

Texts: readings on Electronic Reserve.

E-reserve cautions: The direct links to e-reserve readings in the schedule below worked at the beginning of this quarter, but I cannot promise that they will always work: the normal way to get at e-reserves is via the library’s course reserve page.  The library commits to making e-reserves available in a format that will print out well on the library’s computers.  You’re welcome to print them out elsewhere, but neither I nor the library can provide technical support for other computers and printers.  In general, it’s a good idea not to wait until the last possible moment to print readings.  The e-reserve collection for this  class contains more readings than we will actually use.

Schedule of Topics and Readings (subject to adjustment)

All readings should be finished before the class for which they are assigned.

Wednesday, January 4



Monday, January 9

Carol Gilligan, Chapter 2, "Images of  Relationship"

Respond to reading (via the "e-post" message board)

Wednesday, January 11

Carol Gilligan, Chapter  3, "concepts of Self and Morality"


Notes to chapters 2 and 3

e-post response

(Monday January 16 is a holiday)

Wednesday, January 18

Nel Noddings, "Chapter 1 Why care about caring?"


Nel Noddings, "Chapter 2 The one-caring"

e-post response

Monday, January 23

Joan Tronto, " Chapter 4 Care"


Short bibliography and topic paragraph due

e-post response

Wednesday, January 25

Joan Tronto, "Chapter 5: An ethic of care"
(Tronto, Chapter notes)

e-post response

Monday, January 30

Claudia Card, "Chapter 5: Gender and moral luck"

Sarah Hoagland, "Some thoughts about caring"

Annotated bibliography due

e-post response

Wednesday, February 1

Vrinda  Dalmiya, “Dogged  Loyalties”

e-post response

Monday, February 6

Patricia Hill Collins, "Black women and motherhood"

Outline and topic paragraph due 

e-post response

Wednesday, February 8

Eve Feder Kittay, “Relations of Dependency and Equality”

Eve Feder Kittay, “Not my way, Sesha.  Your Way. Slowly.  A personal narrative.”

Kittay Chapter notes

e-post response

Monday, February 13

Marjorie DeVault, "Introduction" to Feeding the Family

Introductory section due

e-post response

Wednesday, February 15

Marjorie DeVault. "Doing Housework"  (Pp. 178-191 in Naomi Gerstel and Harriet Engel Gross, eds., Families and work. Temple University Press, 1987)

Marjorie DeVault, "Chapter 5: Never done" & Chapter notes

e-post response

(Monday February 20 is a holiday)

Wednesday, February 22

Mary Romero, "Chapter 4: Domestic service and women of color in the United States"

Mary Romero, "Chapter 5: Bonds of sisterhood - bonds of oppression"

(Romero chapter notes)

e-post response

Monday, February 27

No class

First draft due

Wednesday, March 1

No class


Monday, March 6

Paper presentations


Wednesday, March 8

Paper presentations


Wednesday March 15

(no class)

Final paper due at my office by 6 PM