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LSJ 491 A: Special Topics in Rights

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 12:00pm - 2:10pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
POL S 401 A
Chelsea L Moore

Syllabus Description:

LSJ 491/POLS 405: Sex, Rights, and Power

OR: What’s Gov Got to Do With It?

University of Washington

Summer B Term 2020

Chelsea Moore

Email (best form of contact):

Office Hours: Mondays & Tuesdays 2:15 - 3:15pm


Course Description 

From sex work to abortion, polygamy to pornography, sexual behavior is a central topic in politics. Given the widespread assumption that government is intended to regulate public affairs, the saturation of private sexual acts in government discourse and policy is puzzling. This course utilizes a sociolegal approach to examine governmental criminalization, regulation, and intervention into one of the most private areas of citizens’ lives—their sexuality. Course readings and discussions will center on the question of government concern for sexual behavior: how and why is the state concerned with the sexual behavior of its citizens? What has state concern for sexual behavior meant for citizenship and rights more broadly? By focusing on these questions, this course introduces students to emergent literatures at the intersection of law, political science, history, and gender studies. Students will explore the relationship between the state and sexual behavior to better understand how sexual discipline has been legally and discursively inscribed into governance. Further, students will interrogate the role law has played in the construction of sexual normalcy and the punishment of sexual deviance. As a whole, the course seeks to illuminate the sociolegal dimensions of erotic life.


Note on course content

Some of the content of this course will be about sexual violence. We will be discussing rape and other forms of sexual abuse in class and you are expected to complete assignments concerning these topics. Some of the readings and films for this course may include narrative, testimony, and descriptions of sexual violence. For some, this class may be both an intellectual and emotional project. If you feel unable to complete an assignment for personal reasons, please me concerning alternative work.


Course Requirements

Take Home Midterm Exam (25%) DUE August 10th 

Reading Questions (20%)

You will sign up for one week where you are responsible for bringing 3 discussion questions to class. The discussion questions should be open ended questions that will spark an interesting discussion in the class. At least one of the questions should engage current events as they relate to the readings. During your week, you will be responsible for running the first part of class discussion around the readings. After class, submit upload your discussion questions to Canvas under the Assignments tab. 

Zine/Public Information Campaign (35%) DUE August 23rd

Your final project will be a public information campaign of your choice. This can take many forms such as a Zine, a presentation, a podcast, a multi-prong social media campaign, a manifesto. Further directions to come. 

Participation (20%)


Week 1


July 23rd

  • Presentation Assignments


Week 2


July 27th

  • Foucault, Selections, A History of Sexuality Volume 1

    • Janessa


July 28th

  • Rubin, "Thinking Sex"

    • Liz


July 29th

  • Murray, “Marriage as Punishment”

    • Rafa


July 30th

  • Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex”
  • Emilio & Freedman, “Race & Sexuality”
    • Aliyah
    • Anusha


Week 3


August 3rd


August 4th

  • Canaday, “Heterosexuality as a Legal Regime”

    • Michael
    • Junaina


August 5th

  • MacKinnon, Only Words (Selections)

    • Kaley


August 6th

  • No Class (Midterm)


Week 4


August 10th

  • Smith v. Doe
  • ***MidtermDUE***
    • Eliska
    • Louis


August 11th

  • Hamilton-Smith, “The Agony & the Ecstasy of #MeToo” (Guest Speaker)

    • Tyler


August 12th

  • Borchert, “The New Iron Closet”

    • Valentina
    • Kate


August 13th

  • Bassichis, Lee, & Spade “Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement”

    • Bao
    • Crystal


Week 5


August 17th   **Guest Speakers from Collective Justice 


August 18th

  • Roe v. Wade

    • Hope
    • Shelley


August 19th

  • Research Meetings


August 20th

  • Research Meetings




Graded work assessment:


Written work in the A (3.5-4.0) range is characterized by a strikingly perceptive, persuasive, and creative analytical claim; comprehensive synthesis and analysis of the course material; straightforward yet sophisticated organization of thoughts and error-free prose. Written work in the B (2.5-3.4) range is characterized by sound, original, and reasonably thoughtful argument/thesis statement; competent analysis of various course material, logical organization; and clear and error-free prose. Written work in the C (1.5-2.4) range is characterized by a relatively underdeveloped, simplistic, or derivative argument/thesis statement; partial, inconsistent, or faulty analysis of course material; convoluted organization; and awkward, imprecise, or otherwise distracting prose. Written work in the D (0.7-2.3) range is characterized by incoherent or extremely confusing argument; superficial or fleeting engagement with the course material; chaotic or irrational organization; and error-riddled prose. Written work that lacks any argument or analysis and is unorganized earns a failing grade.


My aim is to give every student a fair grade that reflects their understanding of, and engagement with, the course material and course participation. If you feel that you have been graded unfairly on a paper, I am happy to meet with you to discuss it. The grade appeals policy is as follows:


  1. Carefully read and re-read comments
  2. After 24 hours, re-read comments
  3. Write a memo that details why you believe there is a grading error. You must initiate this meeting within one week of receiving your grading assignment. At that time and after meeting I may re-grade your paper. Note that your grade may increase or


Late work policy:

We're in the middle of a global pandemic so you will be extended a lot of grace.  Just reach out to me ASAP if something comes up so we can work it out together. 


Academic dishonesty:

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Cases of suspected cheating and plagiarism will be referred to the Arts and Sciences Committee on Academic Conduct, and may result in a grade of 0.0 for the assignment in question. University policies and guidelines regarding cheating and plagiarism can be found at (Links to an external site.)


Student resources:


Disability and accommodations

Students needing academic accommodations for a disability should contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz Hall, V: (206) 543-8924, TTY: (206) 543-8925, If you have a letter from Disability Resources for Students documenting the need for academic accommodations, please present this letter to the instructor so that accommodations can be discussed and arranged.


Academic resources

The LSJ, POLS and Jackson School Writing Center ( (Links to an external site.)) and the Odegaard Writing & Research Center ( (Links to an external site.)) are excellent resources available to you for written work. I encourage you to make appointments with writing center tutors to work on your research paper.


Sexual violence resources on campus and in Seattle

  1. Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA) ( (Links to an external site.))
  2. Health & Wellness Student Advocate (
  3. Student Counseling Center (206-543-1240)
  4. Title IX Compliance Services (Amanda Payne, coordinator, 206-221-7932)
  5. UW Police / UWPD Victim Advocate (206-543-9937)
  6. Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress (206-744-1600)
  7. Sexual Violence Law Center (206-832-3632)
  8. Northwest Network (support for LGBT and queer survivors of abuse) (206-568-7777)


Undocumented students

I support undocumented students. Leadership Without Borders (206-543-4635), which is staffed by undocumented students and staff, and the UW Dream Project (206-616-5791) are excellent resources.


Respect in the classroom

This course involves material and experiences that are deeply personal, political, and emotionally charged. While spirited debate is encouraged and expected, discussion must remain respectful and supportive at all times. In order to learn together we must learn from each other, and thus every voice is important in our conversation. I invite students to approach course material with a sense of openness – that is, to let material, themes, concepts, and questions we raise in class to challenge your sense of reality and, at the same time submit what you read and discuss in class to thoughtful skepticism and critique.

Catalog Description: 
Focused, comparative examination of topics in rights.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Include in front page slideshow: 
Last updated: 
June 8, 2020 - 9:14pm