Sep 29, 2023  
Catalogue 2021-2022 
Catalogue 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ANTH 170 - Topics in Anthropology

Semester Offered: Spring
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. The Department.

Topic for 2021/22a: The Time(s) of Our Lives: Temporality as an Element of Experience and Community Accomplishment. What is time? What roles does it play in our lives? Can we shape it? What is the relationship between time and the making of our “selves” within the communities to which we belong? What might we learn from engaging empathetically with other’s times and other times? In this course, we consider the variety of ways that time is analyzed, experienced, and crafted in and for different contexts and purposes. Drawing on multiple media, archived materials, material culture, community works, scholarly productions (e.g., symbolic anthropology), and our own experience, we consider contrasts in temporal formations from a variety of sociological worlds, and include an exploration of rituals, historical narratives, dreamtime, and clocks and calendars, and how they can influence our social lives and experience. As students amble through their personal journeys at Vassar, we also explore how practices of time intersect with, and shape our experience of this liberal arts learning community. The course supports well-being through embodied and relational practices, including meditation, story-telling, circle practice, and by encouraging a more informed and intentional relationship with time. Assignments include short essays, journaling, and the design of a timeline of students’ personal and collective encounters with time in their liberal arts community. Carollynn Costella and Candice Lowe Swift.

Topic for 2021/22b: The Dead Teach the Living:  This first-year writing seminar considers various ethical dilemmas of using human remains as tools for research, teaching, and public engagement. Through a discussion of scholarly readings, film, art, and archaeology, we examine a complex set of questions and ethical debates, engaging with the ideas of others and articulating various ethical positions. In developing our writing skills, we explore topics such as human crash-test dummies; the “insta-dead” (or the human remains trade on social media); autopsies, cadavers, and The Body Farm; “grotesque” and “exquisite” museum exhibits; the immortalized human cell line of Henrietta Lacks; and repatriation of indigenous archaeological remains. Aviva Cormier.


Two 75-minute periods.

Course Format: CLS

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