Paper Prompts for Cluster Two: Kinship, Marriage, Sex, Reproduction

Please respond to one of the following prompts:

1. Many of the works we have read during this cluster accord the conjugal bond a privileged status (think of Genesis, for instance, in which the married couple forms one flesh). Consider one or more of these works in order to discuss some of the following questions: how does the text in question define (implicitly or explicitly) what counts as an appropriate or functional conjugal relationship? Provide an account of the dynamic each text proposes or assumes between the emotional, sexual, economic, and legal dimensions of conjugal bonds. How does the author assess the relative importance or causal priority of the emotional and the economic in his or her description? Does the work in question put the primacy of the conjugal bond into question, whether by exposing its limitations or false premises, or by providing alternative means to imagine the self, intimacy, or the organization of the family?

2. What is the relationship of sexuality (understood as a practice of pleasure and eroticism and/or a potential source of identity) to sex as a technology or mechanism of reproduction and transmission? In your paper you might consider some of the following questions: does the work in question imagine a role for or assign meaning to non-reproductive sex and, if so, how is it valued? Are reproductive and non-reproductive sex oppositional or complementary? Are sex and sexuality compatible with familial life, or are they the means to a reproductive end? What is the place of sexuality in social organization?

3. Consider one of the works we have read this cluster and provide an account of how you think kinship is organized and imagined in this work. What types of bonds does the text depict between and across generations, and what kinds of responsibilities and intimacies are assumed to flow from and along these lines of transmission and connection? Consider too the rules or norms (implicit or explicit) that shape how these relations are defined, recorded, and communicated. Finally, assess the significance of biological relations within this system. Does your text depict kinship as largely determined by biological connections, as overlapping with them, or as describing relationships that exceed the biological?


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