What Is the Family? II

WHAT IS THE FAMILY?:  RELIGIOUS AND ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES

HDS 2821

Professor M. Christian Green

Harvard Divinity School

Fall 2006

Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00

Rockefeller Hall, Room 1

COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES

Debates over traditional marriage, gay marriage, and “family values” have prompted new questions about the nature, form, function, and diversity of family structures in contemporary society. After a survey of influential philosophical, theological, and political writings on the family in the West, this seminar will turn its attention to recent discussions of the family in religion, ethics, law, and the social sciences. Readings will examine issues of courtship, cohabitation, and divorce; motherhood, fatherhood, and gender in the heterosexual family; marriages, families, and parenting practices of gays and lesbians; calls for the recognition of polyamorous relationships; distinctive pressures on African-American families; and economic pressures on family life.  While primarily Western, Christian, and American in our emphasis, we will, from time to time, turn our attention to comparative and cross-cultural topics in order to understand the ways in which the family issues are increasingly global concerns.

 SCHEDULE OF CLASSES AND READINGS

Week 1—Introduction (September 20)

Week 2—VIDEO:  “Marriage—Just a Piece of Paper?” (September 27)

Optional Readings:

  • Advisory Council on Social Witness Policy, Presbyterian Church U.S.A. “Transforming Families”
  • McPherson, Miller, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and Matthew Brashears, “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades”

Week 3— Marriage and Family in Western Law and Religion (October 4)

John Witte, Jr.

  • From Sacrament to Contract:  Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (entire)

Rosemary Radford Ruether

  • Christianity and the Making of the Modern Family, Introduction and Chs. 8 and 9 (“Introduction,” “The Many Facets of the Family in the Year 2000,” “Reimagining Families”)

Linda C. McClain

  • The Place of Families: Fostering Capacity, Equality, and Responsibility, Chs. 1 and 6 (“The Place of Families and Government in a Formative Project” and  “Beyond Marriage”)

Robert Wuthnow

  • “The Family as Contested Terrain,” Ch. 4 in Family Transformed: Religion, Values, and Society in Everyday Life

Week 4— Marriage and Family in American History (October 11)

Nancy F. Cott

  • Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (entire)

Judith Stacey

  • Brave New Families, Chs. 1, 4, and 11 (“The Making and Unmaking of Modern Families,”  “Sprouting Some Old Branches: A Divorce-Extended Family,” and “The Postmodern Family, For Better and Worse”)

Judith Stacey

  • “Backward Toward the Postmodern Family,” Ch. 1 in In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age

Week 5—Religion, Culture, and Family: Toward a Practical Theology (October 18)

Don Browning et al.

  • From Culture Wars to Common Ground: The American Family Debate, 2nd. ed (entire, but can omit chs. 1 and 8 )

Stephanie Coontz

  • The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, Introduction, Chs. 1 and 5, Epilogue

Stephanie Coontz

  • Marriage, A History, Chs. 1-3, 16-17

Week 6— Courtship, Cohabitation, and the Case for Marriage (October 25)

Norval Glenn and Elizabeth Marquardt

  • “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right:  College Women on Dating and Mating Today” (online resource)

Jilllian Straus

  • Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We’re Still Single, Chs. 2-3

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

  • “The Changing Pathway to Marriage: Trends in Dating, First Unions, and Marriage Among Young Adults,” Ch. 8 in Family Transformed: Religion, Values, and Society in Everyday Life, pp. 168-84

Popenoe, David, and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

  • “Should We Live Together Before Marriage”

Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher

  • The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, esp. Chs. 1-3, 9-10, 12-14

Week 7—Divorce: A Revolution and Its Implications (November 1)

Elizabeth Marquardt

  • Between Two Worlds:  The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce (entire)

 Constance Ahrons      

  • The Good Divorce, Ch. 1 “What Divorce Is or Is Not”

Stephanie Coontz

  • “Putting Divorce in Perspective,” Ch. 5, The Way We Really Are

Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe

  • The Divorce Culture, Chs. 3 and 5 (“The Divorce Ethic” and “The Children’s Story of Divorce”)

Week 8—The African-American Family (November 8 )

James Q. Wilson

  • “African Americans and Slavery,” Ch. 5 in The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families

Orlando Patterson

  • “Broken Bloodlines: Gender Relations and the Crisis of Marriages and Families Among African Americans,” Ch. 1 in Rituals of Blood:Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries

Michael Eric Dyson    

  • “Family Values,” Ch. 4 in Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind

Elijah Anderson

  • “The Code of the Streets”

Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas

  • Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage, Chs. 4 and 6 (“What Marriage Means” and “How Motherhood Changed My Life

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  • “Preface,” The Future of the Family

Week 9— Gender, Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Work/Family Balance (November 15)

Martha A. Fineman

  • “Feminist Critiques of the Family,” Pt. III in The Autonomy Myth, Ch5. 6-7

Lisa Belkin

  • “The Opt-Out Revolution,” New York Times

Judith Warner

  • “Wonderful Husbands,” Ch. 10 in Perfect Madness: Motherhood in an Age of Anxiety

Steven L. Nock

  • Marriage in Men’s Lives, Chs. 3-5 (“Marriage and Masculinity,” “Adult Achievement,” “Personal Communities”)

Kathleen Gerson

  • “A Few Good Men,” The American Prospect

W. Bradford Wilcox

  • “Feminism and Marital Happiness”

NO CLASSES NOVEMBER 20 & 22—AAR MEETING AND THANKSGIVING BREAK

Week 10— Same-Sex Marriage, Same-Sex Families (November 29)

Evan Wolfson

  • Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry (entire)

Michael Warner

  • The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life (chapters to be announced)

Judith Stacey

  • “Gay and Lesbian Families Are Here; All Our Families Are Queer; Let’s Get Used to It,” Ch. 5 in In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age

Weston, Kath

  • Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, Chs. 2, 5, and 8 (“Exiles from Kinship,” “Families We Choose,” and “The Politics of Gay Families”

Week 11—Friendship, Polyamory, and the Slippery Slope (December 6)

Ruth K. Khalsa

  • “Polygamy as a Red Herring in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate,” Duke Law Journal  (NOTE:  Law review articles appear very long in some cases, but, on average, half of each page is taken up with footnotes)

Michael G. Meyers

  • “Polygamist Eye for the Monogamist Guy: Homosexual Sodomy: Gay Marriage, Is Polygamy Next?” Houston Law Review

Maura Strassberg

  • “The Challenge of Post-Modern Polygamy: Considering Polyamory,” Capital University Law Review

Stanley Kurtz

  • “Polygamy Versus Democracy,” Weekly Standard

Law Commission of Canada

  • Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Adult Relationships, Chs. 1 and 2 (“The Diversity of Personal Adult Relationships” and “Fundamental Values and Principles”)

Ethan Watters

  • “Understanding the Urban Tribe” and “On Friendship and Risk” Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment, Chs. 2-3.

E. Kay Trimberger

  • The New Single Woman, Chs. 9 and 10 (“Friendship Networks as a Source of Community and Care” and “Challenging the Soul-Mate Ideal”)

Week 12—Toward and Ethic of Marriage and Family (December 13)

Margaret Farley

  • Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics

Judith Stacey

  • “The Family Is Dead, Long Live our Families,” Ch. 2 in In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age

Don S. Browning

  • “The World Situation of Families: Marriage Reformation as Cultural Work,” Ch. 13, in Family Transformed: Religion, Values, and Society in Everyday Life

TEXTS AND RESOURCES

Books Available at the Bookstore for Purchase

John Witte, Jr. From Sacrament to Contract:  Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition (Louisville, KY: Westminster/ John Knox, 1997)

Don S. Browning et al. From Culture Wars to Common Ground: The American Family Debate, 2nd. Ed (Louisville, KY: Westminster/ John Knox, 2000)

Nancy F. Cott. Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002)

Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (New York: Broadway Books, 2001)

Elizabeth Marquardt. Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006)

Evan Wolfson. Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004)

Margaret Farley.  Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (New York: Continuum, 2006).

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