Instructor: Joanne Woiak
Email: jwoiak@u.washington.edu

Courses at UW Seattle, Comparative History of Ideas

Autumn 2009 CHID 270B Special Topics: History of Eugenics
M & W 3:30-5:20, MGH 082A

Description: The American eugenics movement of the early 20th century proposed and implemented a variety of policies for "improving the biological quality of the human race." These ranged from educational efforts such as "fitter family" contests to oppressive measures such as immigration restriction and compulsory sterilization of those deemed genetically unfit. The history of eugenics serves as an important case study of the interactions between social values and scientific research, as well as the social construction of human differences defined by race, gender, class, and disability. The course will focus on exploring local variations in eugenics ideas and practices in the US, including Washington State which implemented one of the world's first sterilization laws in 1909. We will examine the science and scientists behind eugenics, legislation and other proposed policies, public support and opposition, connections between American and Nazi eugenics, and intersections between categories of people deemed "socially undesirable." We will address the persistence of eugenic ideas and activities after WWII, including the continuities and discontinuities between eugenics and modern-day genomics and genetic testing. This course has no prerequisites and is suitable for students in humanities and sciences.

Courses at UW Seattle, Disability Studies

Spring 2009, LSJ/CHID 332 Disability and Society: Introduction to Disability Studies (course website).

Fall 2008, HIST 290 / CHID 270 History of Eugenics (course website).

Winter 2007, HIST 490B/C Topics in History: Biology, Society, and Human Diversity (course website). Explores episodes in the history of the biological and social sciences focusing on nature vs. nurture debates. Science makes authoritative claims about social issues such as gender roles, sexuality, racial differences, and disabilities. The prevalent theories and practices include intelligence testing, eugenics, pre-natal genetic testing, evolutionary psychology, and research on sex hormones, behavior, and cognitive differences. We will study these historical and contemporary examples of biological determinism, critiquing the evidence on which they are based and their political and ethical implications for social justice and diversity issues.

Spring 2006, LSJ/CHID 332 Disability and Society: Introduction to Disability Studies, co-instructor with Dennis Lang (course website) (syllabus in Word)

Courses at UW Department of History

Fall 2008, HIST 290 / CHID 270 History of Eugenics (course website)

Winter 2007, HIST 490B/C Topics in History: Biology, Society, and Human Diversity (course website)

Fall 2005, HIST 311 Science in Civilization: Antiquity to the 1600s (course website)

Winter 2004, HIST 310 Science and Religion in Historical Perspective (syllabus in Word)

Winter 2003, HIST 498 Colloquium in History: History of Eugenics in American Society (syllabus in Word)

Courses at UW Bothell Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

Fall 2007, BIS 384 Literary and Popular Genres: The Social Functions of Science Fiction (course website)

Summer 2006, BIS 393 Scientific Revolutions (syllabus in Word)

Winter 2006, BIS 393C Redesigning Humanity: Science Fiction and the Future of the Body (course webpage)

Spring 2005, BIS 393 Socio-Politics of Science (syllabus in Word)

Winter 2005, BIS 393 Biology and Society (course webpage)

Fall 2004, BIS 482 Problems in Interdisciplinary Science: Sexual Science: Historical and Critical Perspectives (course webpage)
Send mail to: jwoiak at u.washington.edu
Last modified: 5/29/2009 3:30 PM