This past semester GSS 337 students interviewed Mary Ziegler, author of After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate (Harvard 2015). The syllabus for Reproductive Politics in the United States and Abroad (GSS 337), introduced students to the histories of ideas and practices governing abortion, adoption, contraception, procreation, and parenting, and emphasized how each shifted over time and underpinned major social struggles in the United States and abroad. Students examined in detail the changing and conflicting ways that the state, medical experts, religious authorities, activists, and everyday people negotiated reproductive issues. In so doing, they developed a rich vocabulary to think about reproductive politics in a number of registers including the histories of race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, colonialism, and technology.
Three classes at the end of the semester were devoted to engaging with Ziegler’s study. Students prepared discussion questions in advance and each class began by identifying the main arguments and interventions of each chapter, connecting Ziegler’s book with broader course themes, and reflecting upon the possibilities and limitations of the book. Through these conversations, students generated questions collectively. They then devoted a significant portion of time to testing out their questions and working through the implications. At the end of each class, they discussed big picture questions, collectively speaking about where Ziegler fit in the syllabus, and thinking about how to frame her interventions. During the final class of the semester, students voted on which questions to send to Professor Ziegler. They then carefully edited their questions for clarity and accuracy. Knowing that Professor Ziegler would respond to them gave students’ reading additional purpose, sharpened their inquiries, and enlivened the discussion.
NOTCHES, an international and peer reviewed blog devoted to the history of sexuality, will publish this interview. With thousands of subscribers and readers, the great work of the students in GSS will be given a wide audience.
Here's the link to the GSS 337 publication: http://notchesblog.com/2016/01/21/after-roe-engaging-the-lost-history-of-the-abortion-debate/.