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Midterm Paper Prompts and Guidelines
Write a critical paper on one of the following three prompts:
1. Using practical examples from within and beyond anthropology, discuss the intersection
of scientific racism and scientific sexism.
2. Explain and evaluate the one-sex theory, the two-sex theory, and the concept of one true
sex to discuss how biological sex operates in a cultural context (i.e. time and place) of
3. Drawing on the work of at least two theorists, explain and discuss the relationship
between discourse, pathology, and eugenics.
Submit to Canvas under Assignments as a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or direct text submission only (do not
submit a .pdf or .pages document, convert this first if needed). Due before 11:59pm on 5/15.
Your paper should be 2,000 words +/- 10%, not counting titles or your Works Cited. You will lose
partial points for writing less than 1,800 words or more than 2,200 words.
An original thesis statement is welcome but not necessary. No original title is necessary (including
the prompt as the title is fine). Formatting is up to you (font size, spacing, etc). 12pt, Times New
Roman, and 1.5 or double spaced is a good go-to.
Papers will be graded based on how well they respond to the chosen prompt, taking clarity,
consistency, the use of evidence, and adherence to these guidelines into account.
Elaboration on the prompts:
To respond to prompt 1, you may want to revisit the Somerville reading in combination with the
reading from Smay and Armelagos from the prior week. The recommended reading by Konigsberg
et al is also useful here. The phrase ‘practical examples’ encourages you to be specific: refer to
particular studies, cases, and/or events. Also consider the term ‘intersection’ – where is there not
just a relation between scientific racism and scientific sexism, but an actual interdependence found
in their overlap?
To respond to prompt 2, you will elaborate on each of these three theories (one-sex, two-sex, and
one true sex) – it’s easiest to do that through Laqueur and Foucault/Kessler, but you can certainly
consult other sources. You will use this foundation to discuss biological sex as a social construct
and medical discourse. The last part of the prompt emphasizes that you need to be specific about
cultural context (when and where you are referring to). Unless you claim that theories of biological
sex are universal, it’s important that you specify, e.g. state your paper refers to biological sex in
Western Europe in the 15th
-17th centuries, or to the US in the mid-20th century, or if you want to
branch out, you could choose another context, see e.g. Bahreini (2011) or Furth (1988).
To respond to prompt 3, you will find the week 5 lecture useful, and consider the required and
recommended readings (Anzaldua/Stern et al and Pylypa/Goodrow) alongside content and
readings from other weeks (e.g. Foucault’s “We Other Victorians” and our discussions about
immune system discourse). Theorists just means scholars/authors here. I suggest you briefly
explain the relationship between discourse, pathology, and eugenics from a theoretical perspective
(e.g. how does A lead to B lead to C for example, and how is C held up by B, and how is A
emerging from the result of C? etc) and then use one or more examples to discuss (e.g. forced
sterilization in a context of your choice).
Things to keep in mind:
A critical paper utilizes your own personal voice and writing style but is not a personal essay or
an opinion piece. The paper should interpret and analyze texts, evaluate the arguments of authors,
and formulate an original response to the topic chosen which is supported by evidence.
You are welcome to bring in whatever examples you see fit but remember that you should show
evidence of having read and understood the course readings that you utilize in your paper, and
your paper should show some engagement with content discussed in lectures. The prompts above
generally relate to weeks 3-5, but you are welcome to bring in readings from other weeks and/or
from outside of the course.
Please reference at least one of the required readings from class in your paper. You should cite at
least 5 sources total, referring to them in the text and including them in your Works Cited. The
recommended readings should also be helpful here. Feel free to cite these as sources along with
others you may find. Please make sure at least 3 of your sources are academic sources (books or
journal articles). You are welcome to also cite news/online articles, including but not limited to
the ones we read in class, but be careful in selecting web articles based on quality.
The style of your citations is up to you (e.g. MLA, Chicago, Harvard), but they should be
consistent, and you should generally use page numbers (or ‘n.p.’ for no page) if you use direct
quotes within the text.
In the Works Cited, you should normally include the author(s), date, title, publication the text can
be found in (e.g. the name of a book the chapter is in, the name and issue of the journal an article
is in, the name and issue of the newspaper an article is in), the total pages of the cited text (if
applicable), and the publisher and location (if a book). Most styles require you to include a link
for web sources, if you use a news article or journal article that can be found online.
Examples of an in-text citation:
• Direct quote included, author is mentioned in the sentence: Matzinger’s (1994) danger
model of the immune system refutes “the belief that the immune systems primary driving
force is the need to discriminate between self and non-self” (p. 91).
• Direct quote included, authors are not mentioned in the sentence: A system of binary
gender categories does not allow for “express[ing] gender identities in diverse ways”
(Christiansen and Fischer 2016, p. 7).
• No direct quote, but a reference to an author/text: Kessler (1990) discusses how norms
about gender influence the medical management of sex.
Example of full citation of a journal article:
Crenshaw, Kimberlé (1989). “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black
Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist
Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1:8. 139–167.
Example of full citation of a chapter in a book:
Christiansen, Lars and Nancy Fischer (2016). “Working in the (Social) Construction
Zone,” in Introducing the New Sexuality Studies. Ed. Steven Seidman, Chet Meeks, and
Nancy Fischer. 3rd Edition. p. 3–11. Routledge: New York.
Rubric from syllabus:
The categories below outline the expectations of papers within the specified grade ranges. Your
adherence to the guidelines set out for the assignments (provided on Canvas) will also be
factored into your grade. You may lose points for issues with citations, length, and scope.
29–30 points (A+): An excellent response which is clear and insightful, showing a deep
understanding of the prompt and evidence introduced, with very few if any noticeable issues.
27–28.5 points (A- to A): A very good response which demonstrates an understanding of the key
concepts invoked in the prompt. This response likely needed to go just a little further to
demonstrate its points, or contains a minor factual error or two, or lapse in clarity.
24–26.5 points (B- to B+): An above-average response which shows an understanding of the topic
and the concepts written about and has significant potential. This response may lack the nuance
required of an A-level response and likely contains a few minor factual errors or unclear
21–23.5 points (C- to C+): A satisfactory response which reflects a general understanding but does
not quite show a true grasp of the concepts at hand. This response may contain two or more
explanatory errors, and/or has some strong analytical moments accompanied by unclear tangents.
18–20.5 points (D- to D+): A response which partly or mostly addresses the topic, but lacks clarity
and/or relies on illogical arguments or opinion. It is either entirely vague or contains several
explanatory errors which affect readability.
15–17.5 points (F): A failing response. This response is extremely minimal, does not address the
topic at hand whatsoever, or attempts to address it but completely misses the mark.
0: Not submitted or plagiarized.
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