The required books for this seminar are:

Frances, Allen. 2014. Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-V, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0062229267.

Huxley, Aldous. 1932. Brave New World. [Any edition will do. ]

Other required readings for this semester will include academic articles available on the “calendar” page of this class website.

Further, students will be expected to keep abreast of news stories relevant to our study of drugs.


weekly critical summaries (11 @ 10 pts. each) 110
paper 100
final exam 100
leading one night’s discussion   40
participation   30
oral presentation   20

The weekly critical summaries will cover the readings assigned for a given week. Each critical summary should discuss major ideas in the week’s readings in enough detail that I can see you’ve read and thought about all of the readings for the week. There are 11 weeks with reading assignments, thus each student will generate 11 critical summaries, worth ten points each. Each should be about two pages long, typed double spaced.

The big paper is described here.

The final exam will be an essay test covering the lectures, discussions, and readings for the course.

The oral presentation will be a 10 minute talk on the topic of your paper, given near the end of the semester.

On the week you lead the class discussion of readings, you will be expected to be especially well prepared so that you can keep things moving along with appropriate questions and responses to your colleagues’ contributions. This is ten percent of your grade for the course. Be smart and useful. So for instance, do NOT ask yes-or-no questions. Those are uninteresting. You risk losing half of the 40 points immediately upon the asking of a single yes-or-no question. Also do not ask the class, “What did you think was interesting about this article?” That’s really boring and makes you look kind of simple. Yes, you do have to turn in a two page critical summary on the week that you lead discussion.

Your participation grade will reflect the quality of your contributions to our discussions in seminar. Come to seminar with something smart to say. Any absence will negatively affect your participation grade, but just showing up every week and declining to contribute meaningfully will result in a low participation grade, too.

Course Objectives and Instructional Methodologies

By the end of the semester, you will be stronger in a number of areas.
With respect to written communication skills, the extensive writing demands of this seminar will have provided much useful practice. With respect to professional communication skills, your interaction in seminar discussions will likewise have provided ample opportunity for improvement. With respect to multicultural knowledge, our explicit emphasis of differential drug use/abuse by racial and ethnic groups will have shed new light on longstaning questions. With respect to critical thinking skills, graduate seminars are essentially nothing more than small groups of scholars coming together to offer critical analysis of recent scholarship, so you’re pretty well set there. With respect to theoretical knowledge, your repertoire of sociological theories will be augmented by the addition of theories of drug use and abuse. With respect to applications of sociology, you will recognize the practical and policy implications of various types of drug use and abuse and will be better informed to make decisions with respect to your own use of pharmaceuticals within the context of the current sociotechnical regime.
In terms of instructional methodologies, I may lecture for a few minutes each week, but the bulk of our time together will be spent in class discussions of readings.  Most of the time you spend each week on this seminar will be dedicated to reading and mastering the material, writing your analyses of those readings, and researching and writing your term paper.

Make ups, Late Papers

A make up for a missed exam or oral presentation will be allowed only with a compelling note from a hospital or funeral home. Critical summaries will not be accepted late; if you have to miss class, e-mail the summary to me by class time that day. Late term papers will lose 10 points per day late.

Students with Disabilities

Per the Office of Disability Services: “If you are a student with a disability who will require an accommodation(s) to participate in this course, please contact me as soon as possible. You will be asked to provide documentation from the Office of Disability Services. Failure to contact me in a timely manner may delay your accommodations. ”

Electronic Devices

Departmental statement: “The Department of Sociology reserves the right to limit or deny the use of any and all electronic devices in the classroom. ” Do not secretly video the lectures and post them on YouTube. Also, students using laptops in class must sit in the front half of the occupied rows.

Department Statement about Academic Dishonesty
(and I quote:)
“As members of the university community, students are expected to be aware of and abide by university policies regarding academic honesty. By the same token, members of the faculty within the university community are expected to enforce those policies. Members of the Department of Sociology operate on the assumption that each student has thoroughly reviewed the university policies regarding academic honesty and that the policies will be followed. Accordingly, members of the Department of Sociology will enforce all policies related to academic honesty. The specific policy statements in this regard are to be found at the following websites: (Texas State Student Handbook) (Academic Honesty, UPPS No. 07.10.01)

The following is not a substitute for the statement of policies found in the above referenced material. Rather, it serves to call each student’s attention to the breadth and depth of academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty includes the following: Cheating, plagiarism, collusion and/or abuse of resource materials. Each term or phrase is defined in some detail in the above referenced material. Because the offense of plagiarism can be confusing to students, the following information is provided as essential reading by all students.

“Plagiarism means the appropriation of another’s work and the unacknowledged incorporation of that work in one’s own written work offered for credit.” (Texas State University Handbook, UPPS No. 07-10-01)
Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • downloading or buying a research paper
  • cutting and pasting information from several sources to create a paper
  • leaving out quotation marks around quoted material, placing quotation marks around some but not all copied information
  • leaving out quotation marks around copied information but adding a citation implying that the information is the student’s summary of the source
  • leaving out quotation marks for more than three consecutive words taken directly from a source
  • providing a reference/bibliograghy page but leaving out the reference citation in the body of the paper
  • faking a citation
  • unintentionally using words or ideas or quotes without citing them in the body of the paper and on the reference/bibliograghy page


Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism or having plagiarized in the past without having been penalized does not excuse such acts in the Department of Sociology. Any student charged with plagiarism may appeal in writing in accordance with Texas State University policy.
The phrase, academic dishonesty, includes a variety of transgressions. It refers to acts such as cheating on a test to committing plagiarism when writing a paper. The Sociology Department assumes that it is the responsibility of each student to know what constitutes academic dishonesty. A lack of understanding of the phrase is no excuse when academic dishonesty is at issue. Similarly, a student may not be excused from a current transgression because he/she committed a similar act in the past and was not charged with a violation of university policy. Any student who is accused with academic dishonesty has the right to challenge the accusation, but the challenge must be submitted in writing and in accordance with university policy.


A complete statement on the policy of the Department of Sociology regarding academic dishonesty (including plagiarism) is available on the departmental website Remember: ignorance of what constitutes academic dishonesty or having participated in academic dishonesty in the past without being penalized does not excuse such acts in the Department of Sociology. “