Course Meeting Times 

Lectures: 2 sessions / week; 1.5 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

Black feminist health science studies is a critical intervention into a number of intersecting arenas of scholarship and activism, including feminist health studies, contemporary medical curriculum reform conversations, and feminist technoscience studies. We argue towards a theory of Black feminist health science studies that builds on social justice science, which has as its focus the health and well-being of marginalized groups. Students will engage feminist science theories such as the linguistic metaphors of the immune system, the medicalization of race, and critiques of the sexual binary. We will use contemporary as well as historical moments to investigate the evolution of “scientific truth” and its impact on the U.S. cultural landscape.

About the Instructor

Moya Bailey was an MLK Visiting Professor at MIT for 2020–2021. Dr. Bailey is a scholar of critical race, feminist, and disability studies. Her work focuses on marginalized groups’ use of digital media to promote social justice as acts of self-affirmation and health promotion. She is interested in how race, gender, and sexuality are represented in media and medicine. She currently curates the #transformDH Tumblr initiative in Digital Humanities. She is also the digital alchemist for the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network.

Goals and Objectives

Students will:

  • Determine the validity of scientific claims based on evidence, not opinion
  • Recognize societal and cultural influence on “biological” behavior
  • Grasp basic Black feminist concepts such as intersectionality and standpoint theory
  • Explore race, class, and gender’s impact on medicine

Required Texts

Petry, Ann. The Street. Mariner Books, 1998. ISBN: ‎9780395901496. [Preview with Google Books]

Roberts, Dorothy. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century. The New Press, 2012. ISBN: ‎9781595588340. [Preview with Google Books]

For additional readings, see the Readings section.

Grading Policy

Week 1 reading response 10 points
1-page reading response 10 points
2-page reading response 20 points
Class participation 1 point for each class attended, 4 points for the symposium
Podcast 40 points

For additional information, see the Assignments section.

To complete this course with an A, you will need to gain a total of 93 to 100 points. You will have the opportunity to choose the assignments and readings that you will complete to allow you to arrive at the points that are needed. As you choose how to proceed through this course, do think carefully about your research interests, projects, future academic and/or professional goals, and skills you would like to acquire. See the Readings section for articles and books that will be linked to the different assignments.

Extra Points

Students may attend virtual events detailed by the professor and write a one-page reflection on the event. Each write-up must include a reference to at least one class reading that connects to the event. Other extra credit opportunities will be announced in class. Each of these write-ups is worth an additional point added to your cumulative grade.