Oct 30, 2020  
Catalogue 2019-2020 
    
Catalogue 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)

ANTH 170 - Topics in Anthropology

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)


Introduction to anthropology through a focus on a particular issue or aspect of human experience. Topics vary, but may include Anthropology through Film, American Popular Culture, Extinctions, Peoples of the World.

Topic for 2019/20a: Written in Bone: Using Human Skeletons to Understand the Ancient Past. Since the earliest days of archaeology, scholars and the general public have been fascinated by skeletons recovered from ancient sites. However, human remains are more than a physical bridge between the present and a romanticized past—they also encode valuable information about the identities and daily lives of past peoples. Bioarchaeology is the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites. This course draws upon bioarchaeological case studies from multiple regions and time periods to explore the ways in which researchers use skeletal data to deepen our understanding of ancient lives, while also critically evaluating how such discoveries are portrayed in the popular media. In class discussions and written assignments, students engage with debates about how past peoples treated their dead, conceived of personhood, experienced violence and disease, and organized their communities. Over the course of the seminar, students learn how to formulate clear arguments, draw upon scientific evidence, and develop strategies for writing and revising research papers. Class time also is devoted to developing key writing and research skills, such as structuring academic papers, identifying appropriate sources, interpreting and responding to feedback. Overall, this course introduces students to the ways in which bioarchaeologists collect evidence from human skeletons to better understand the lived experiences of past individuals and communities. Jess Beck.

Open only to first-year students; satisfies the college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

Topic for 2019/20a: Anthropology in the Anthropocene​. The ‘Anthropocene’ is a widely used term to denote the present geological epoch when the Earth has been profoundly altered by human activity.  Such human activity has intensified significantly since the onset of industrialization and has become a geological force by itself.  This course explores the nature of this human activity through readings a from an anthropological angle.  Anthropology is the discipline that has explored human “relatedness” in the greatest empirical and theoretical detail.  How does that archive help us to grasp the depth of the “human” problem in relating to the world?  What kind of alternate “futures” and “reconnections” can we imagine with the help of this knowledge?  Students read a range of authors, genres and sources, including ethnographies, scientific reports, environmental/ activist scholarship, indigenous narratives, poetry, critical essays and philosophy.  Topics and questions include: What are the modes in which industrial society brings about the devastating changes to the Earth System?  How is that different from non-modern ways of being a human in the world?  What does the history of race, colonialism, and conquest of other “humans” and that of “Nature” tell us about the phenomenon of the Anthropocene?  How do we wrench ecology away from the domain of “experts” and start moving towards a democratic form of ecological life?  Since this is a writing course, it  focuses on nurturing the writer in each of us.  Students ”use” the crisis of the “Anthropocene” to develop a portfolio of “ecological” writings. The aim is to help each other develop one’s own style as a writer and intellectually prepare to explore contemporary lives under the sign of environmental devastation or “climate change.” Kaushik Ghosh.

Open only to first-year students; satisfies the college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

Topic for 2019/20a and b:  Language Facts, Language Fictions. True or false: women talk too much and men refuse to listen; Italian sounds beautiful, while German sounds harsh; double negatives are illogical; television and texting are ruining the English language; there are primitive languages that have no grammar; southerners speak more slowly than northerners; everybody has an accent except where I grew up; language is used primarily to communicate factual information about the world; Eskimos have 17 words for ‘snow’; men interrupt more than women; girls imitate how their mothers talk, while boys imitate how their fathers talk; everyone in Boston says, ‘cah’ instead of ‘car’; if you grow up speaking two languages, you’ll never speak either one perfectly. These statements represent the kinds of judgments many people make about languages and everyday speech. Even as the course provides a solid grounding in linguistic analysis, it explores and explodes such judgments by asking students to assess critically their own ideas and ideologies about language. Thomas Porcello.

Open only to first-year students; satisfies the college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

Topic for 2019/20b:  From Artifacts to Arguments: Introduction to the Archaeology of Prehistoric Europe.  How did humans survive during the last Ice Age? Who is responsible for the cave paintings of Lascaux? What exactly is a henge? In this course, we explore the answers to these questions and more, covering topics ranging from ancient subsistence systems to exchange networks, mortuary practices, and technology. The class is divided into four units: (1) Introduction to Archaeological Principles and Theory; (2) The Paleolithic; (3) The Neolithic; (4) The Copper Age–Bronze Age. Students learn to evaluate archaeological evidence, assess the importance of theory in reconstructing prehistoric lifeways, and identify key sites, archaeologists and artifacts in European prehistory. In addition to painting a portrait of the economies, exchange networks, social organization and ritual practices of early European communities, this course also emphasizes the utility of different archaeological lines of evidence, describing the complementary information that can be recovered from lithics, ceramics, animal bones, human bones and ancient plant remains. Over the course of the seminar, students learn how to formulate clear arguments, draw upon scientific evidence, and develop strategies for writing and revising research papers. Class time is devoted to developing key writing and research skills, such as structuring academic papers, identifying appropriate sources, interpreting and responding to feedback.  Jess Beck.

Open only to first-year students; satisfies the college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

Course Format: CLS



Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)