Most people grow up in families, but few people know much about them. While today we take for granted that marriages should be based on love, heterosexuality is an obvious identity, and mothers want to care for their children, all of these ideas are recent inventions. Moreover, gender, class, and race inequalities exist within and across families. Families feel these inequalities deeply, but they are not only innocent victims – they create inequalities too. This course will focus on changes over time in family structures and roles, then turn to how families experience and generate inequality. Along the way, we’ll also address common questions about families: Does living with a partner before marriage increase the likelihood of a later divorce? Is teenage pregnancy actually bad for mothers and their children? Why do so many men not care for the children they helped create? Through readings, writings, and discussions we will explore these issues together, working to understand what they mean for American families today.