Normality and Abnormality
01:920:240 (4 credits)
Professor Allan V. Horwitz, Sociology
Professor Deborah Carr, Sociology
Am I normal? Human conceptions of normality and abnormality pervade social life, shaping expectations about physical appearance, eating habits, sexuality, gender, mental illness, and happiness, among other things. Individuals use ideas about what is normal and abnormal to judge and modify their own behavior. And, so does society. But, what is normal? How do we know? And, is normal something worth being? Do definitions of normality stem from people’s own experiences, from science, from social definitions, or from universal standards of morality or human nature? What does normal mean in different cultures and historical eras? To what extent is it possible to change deviations from normal and is it desirable to do so? Who decides?
This course is particularly recommended for students who intend to pursue majors or minors in anthropology, various area studies, business, criminal justice, history, life sciences or premedicine, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, women’s and gender studies, and studies of race and ethnicity. This course carries credit toward the major and minor in sociology. Normality and Abnormality can be used to meet the SAS Core Curriculum goals in 21st Century Challenges [21C], Social Analysis [SCL], and Writing and Communication [WCd]. For students entering before fall 2011, it can be used to fulfill the SAS interdisciplinary and diversity requirements.