Assistant Professor of Sociology
My research and teaching are at the intersection of punishment, social control, critical addiction studies and media culture. My first book, Judging Addicts: Drug Courts and Coercion in the Justice System (New York University Press, 2012), examines the re-emergence of rehabilitation in the criminal justice system focusing on the medicalized theories of addiction advocates of drug courts (where defendants are mandated to drug treatment) use to bolster criminal justice oversight of defendants. Placing drug courts historically, I argue that the disease designation erases considerations of race from discussions of criminal justice processing and reform. By calling these defendants “sick,” drug court advocates obscure the racial bias inherent in a system that arrests, charges, convicts and sentences African American drug users at a much higher rather than their white counterparts. Rather than reforming the failures of the war on drugs, these courts permit increased social control of defendants in the name of healing and punishing them.
My research interests grew out of the public health work I’ve done in the U.S. For several years before getting my PhD, I worked as a researcher and policy analyst in the field of HIV/AIDS and drug policy, in New York, New Orleans and other urban areas, focusing on criminal justice and public health approaches to these issues. I am interested in fostering sociology’s potential “applied” contributions while retaining a critical perspective on the ways in which this research is used by policymakers and advocates.
During my sabbatical (2012-2013), I am working on a new project, Rock Bottom: Celebrity and the Moral Order of Addiction, that focuses on the visual culture of addiction in the U.S. and the media sites where ideas about drug use are communicated. This project links celebrity to addiction discourse, focusing on the places, such as celebrity gossip blogs and reality television shows (e.g. Intervention and Celebrity Rehab), where ideas about addiction are constructed, defined, reinterpreted and, in some instances, contested. I am connecting the knowledge about addiction produced through popular media to the emerging neuro-scientific discourses that articulate addiction as a “brain disease” and the institutional practices used to monitor and control drug users.
I teach the following courses at Middlebury: Society & the Individual, Deviance & Social Control, Sociology of Drugs, Sociology of Punishment, Bad Boys and Wayward Girls: The Social Control of Problem Youth, and Celebrity.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FYSE 1401 / SOAN 0375 / WAGS 0375 - Bad Kids
Young people are a regular source of panic for adults. Families, schools, medicine, and psychology communicate what it means to be a "normal" young person; reformatories, courts, prisons, and other institutions convey the consequences for rule breaking. The social control of young people depends on the categories created to differentiate them from adults. In this course we will: examine the labels of child, juvenile delinquent, at-risk youth, hyper-criminal, adolescent, teenager, and emerging adult to understand the ideas of normalcy embedded in these socially constructed categories; consider how class, race, and gender intersect with the mechanisms of control exerted over young people who deviate from the norm; and explore social movements and youth cultures that attempt to resist adult pressures to be good boys and docile girls and redefine the experiences of young people. 3 hrs. sem.
Spring 2012, Fall 2013
SOAN 0105 - Society and the Individual ▲
Society and the Individual
This course examines the ideas and enduring contributions of the giants of modern social theory, including Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Sigmund Freud. Readings will include selections from original works, as well as contemporary essays. Key issues will include the nature of modernity, the direction of social change, and the role of human agency in constructing the "good society." This course serves as a general introduction to sociology. (Not open to second semester juniors or seniors without approval) 3 hrs. lect. (Sociology)
Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2014
SOAN 0281 - Celebrity
In this course we will explore (1) definitions of fame and celebrity and difference between the two, (2) the history, production, and consumption of celebrity in the U.S., and (3) the structures of power and inequality the celebrity phenomenon and its commodification embody. We will draw from a range of examples including the history of Hollywood, reality television, sports, celebrity deviance, and the role the Internet plays in celebrity culture and surveillance. Overall, we will consider what the pleasures we derive from consuming celebrities reveal about the cultural significance of celebrities in our everyday lives. 3 hrs. sem. (Sociology)
SOAN 0288 - Deviance and Social Control
Deviance and Social Control
This course will introduce students to sociological perspectives on the nature, causes and control of deviant behavior and populations. We will consider, historically and theoretically, the construction of deviance, the social purpose it serves, and the societal response deviance engenders. We will pay special attention to the ways in which the deviant body is constructed and managed through a variety of frameworks – including medical, punitive and therapeutic - and reflect critically on the social and political ramifications of the categorizations “deviant” and “normal”. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Sociology)
SOAN 0301 - Soc Research Methods
The Logic of Sociological Inquiry
In this course students will be introduced to the basic tools of sociological research including problem formulation, strategies of design and data collection, and analysis and presentation of results. This class will help students formulate a research question and develop a research strategy to best explore that question. Those strategies may include interviews, structured observation, participant observation, content analysis, and surveys. This class, strongly recommended for juniors, will culminate in the submission of a senior project proposal. (SOAN 0103 or SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. research lab. (Sociology)
SOAN 0318 - Theories of Celebrity ▹
Theories of Celebrity
In this course we will explore the cultural significance of the concept "celebrity" from a variety of theoretical perspectives. We will draw from a range of examples, including the history of Hollywood, the branding of sport stars, the rise of reality television, YouTube fame, and celebrity gossip, to examine the structures of power and inequality the celebrity phenomenon and its commodification embody. We will use theoretical concepts such as hegemony, the spectacle, mechanical reproduction, the panopticon, hyperreality, microcelebrity, postmodernity, and neoliberalism to analyze the extraordinary rise of a visual culture based on the production and consumption of celebrity. (Formerly SOAN 0281) (SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. sem.
SOAN 0319 - Idea of Drugs and Addiction ▹
The Idea of Drugs and Addiction
Drugs cause panic and social hysteria. We spend time talking about them and expend energy distinguishing between good and bad drugs and users. Movies, documentaries, literature, art, and television shows reflect this preoccupation with the use and misuse of drugs. In this course we will investigate the social significance of “drugs” as a cultural, rather than pharmacological, category. We will consider drugs and addiction as ideas that reflect concerns about the “self” in modernity. We will examine the panic surrounding drug use and addiction, our preoccupation with treatment, and our emphasis on sobriety. Overall, we will engage with the larger themes the idea of drugs and addiction raises: harm, exclusion, inequality, pleasure, freedom, desire, perfection, enlightenment, and control. 3hrs. lect./disc. (SOAN 0105 or SOAN 0288) (Sociology)
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Spring 2015
SOAN 0475 - Social Control/Problem Youth
Bad Boys and Wayward Girls: The Social Control of “Problem Youth”
Everyone worries about young people; we scrutinize their clothes, music, friends, grades, drugs, and sports. Families, schools, medicine, and psychology communicate what it means to be a "normal" young person. Reformatories and other disciplinary mechanisms convey the consequences for rule breaking. In this course, we will (1) look at the construction of childhood, the invention of delinquency, the creation of adolescence, and the ideas of normalcy embedded in these categories; (2) consider how class, race, and gender intersect with the mechanisms of social control exerted over those who deviate; and (3) explore how young people resist the social pressures to be good boys and docile girls. (SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. sem. (Sociology)
SOAN 0478 - Sociology of Punishment ▲
Sociology of Punishment
In this course, we will examine the changing ideologies and practices of state-sponsored punishment that have led to the spectacular expansion of imprisonment and other forms of penal supervision in the U.S. Drawing on theoretical accounts of punishment, historical examinations of prison and parole, and contemporary studies of criminal law and sentencing, we will consider social control as it plays out via institutionalized contexts, namely prisons and asylums, as well as alternative sanctions, such as coerced treatment. We will identify the major phases of penal development and consider mass imprisonment as both a reflection and cause of racial and economic inequality. (SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. sem. (Sociology)
Fall 2013, Fall 2014
SOAN 0500 - Advanced Individual Study ▲ ▹
Prior to registering for SOAN 0500, a student must enlist the support of a faculty advisor from the Department of Sociology/Anthropology. (Open to Majors only) (Approval Required) (Sociology or Anthropology)
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
SOAN 0700 - One-Semester Senior Project ▲ ▹
One-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a student will carry out an independent, one-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 25-40 pages, due the last day of classes. (Sociology or Anthropology)
Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
SOAN 0710 - Multi-Semester Senior Project ▲ ▹
Multi-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a senior will carry out an independent multi-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 60-100 pages, due either at the end of the Winter Term or the Friday after spring break. (Sociology or Anthropology)
Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015