Selected Course Descriptions
This course has three main objectives: (1) to provide an overview of theoretical and topical issues in cultural anthropology; (2) to encourage critical, informed readings of key anthropological debates, past and present; and (3) to analyze explanations for, and causes of cross-cultural similarities and differences. We will attempt to understand both the universal process through which human beings constitute themselves through culture, and the great diversity of cultural forms that result. We will examine how the preoccupation with "exotic others" affected the development of anthropological ideas and institutions. We will also look at this "we/they" dichotomy in the context of today's increasingly interconnected world and explore what happens when anthropological tools are used in the analysis of our own society.
Introduction to Archaeology
This course presents an overview of our current understanding [or lack thereof] of major cultural developments over the last 2.5 million years from cultural origins in Africa to the independent emergence of complex societies in Mesopotamia and Meso- america. Emphasis is placed on the reflexive relationship of anthropological theory and the great spatial and temporal variation uniquely available in the archaeological record. Course requirements include midterm and final examinations, and a term project in data analysis and interpretation.
Human Fossil Record
The early states of human evolutionary history will be detailed from a biological perspective. The course begins with a discussion of the principles of evolution, phylogenetic reconstruction and geological principles. We will consider the acquisition of bipedal posture and locomotion by the first hominids of some 6 to 8 million years ago. Paleoecology, animal biogeography, and early hominid speciations are examined as consequences of global climatic change. We will characterize dental development pattern, rates and trends, masticatory adaptations and diets and facial architecture of early hominids. The evolution of the brain will be considered in the context of the origins and evolution of the genus Homo. The course will end with a grand scenario of human evolution. Requirements include lectures, readings, a research report and a final examination.
Linguistics, the science of language, is a multi-faceted field. In this course, an overview of the formal linguistic sub-fields (phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics) will be given to ground our discussion of language acquisition, sociolinguistics, and linguistic anthropology. We will be primarily concerned with learning how language works such that it translates into potential research questions in the study of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology that are both feasible, reasonable in scope, and well-informed by linguistic theory and not language myths that perpetuate popular linguistic ideologies. To aid in this goal, we will discuss a number of linguistic studies approach language and linguistic questions from different angles and perspectives, with an emphasis on those that focus on issues of society, culture, and local practice.