Just for You
This course is a general introduction to the field of physical anthropology, with an emphasis on the causes and evolution of human biological similarities and differences. The course introduces the main perspectives and methods of physical anthropology, paleoanthropology, and primatology in order to help students trace and explain human evolution from the first primates and hominids to the development of bipedalism and the emergence of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens).
This course provides students with an introduction to the cultural and social systems that humans have devised over time and space, using a comparative anthropological perspective. The course will also focus on using the methods, theories, and concepts of cultural anthropology to understand and explain the cultural diversity seen around the world.
This introductory course discusses the basic philosophy and methods of archaeology, and provides an introductory survey of archaeological excavations and discoveries in the Near East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with an emphasis on understanding how societies changed and developed during the unwritten periods of human history. Beginning with the evolution of the first human ancestors nearly seven million years ago, topics will include the evolution of the earliest human societies, the development of lifeways based on domesticated plants and animals, and the emergence of complex societies. Along the way, students will also have a chance to use archaeological methods to make sense of material remains in their own society.
This is an introductory course in anthropological linguistics and charts how human languages are formed, evolve, and disappear. The main topics will include the nature of human language as distinct from other communication systems; how we organize sound to make a language, i.e. how we identify sound patterns (phonology), create words (morphology), group words into sentences (syntax), and attribute meaning to these sounds (semantics and semiotics); the relationships between language, culture, and human thought; changes in language use in different socio-cultural contexts; and the historical development of languages and writing systems.
This course provides students with a comparative survey of the indigenous peoples and cultures of the modern world, from the late 1800s to the present. Course readings will focus on the ethnographic study of peoples from all major culture areas of the world outside of Europe: Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia, North America, and South America. Through this class, students will gain a general understanding of world cultures and the utility of ethnography as a means for exploring specific cultures and ethnology as a basis for cross-cultural comparison and comprehension.
This course examines marriage, kinship, and family systems in various cultures from around the world using a comparative anthropological approach. Students will gain an understanding of the cultural logics underlying diverse marriage customs, descent patterns, notions of relatedness, and forms of family life found in different parts of the world and within present-day American society.
Why does archaeology inspire endless theories about ancient aliens, lost civilizations, apocalyptic predictions, and mysterious technologies? This course seeks to answer this question and introduce students to the realities of archaeology by exploring the weird world of "cult archaeology," also known as pseudoarchaeology. We will investigate the origins of so-called alternative archaeological theories; look at the types of "evidence" used to create them; and examine the reasons and rationales that lead people to invent, disseminate, and believe them. From the lost city of Atlantis and ancient alien astronauts to Bigfoot and pre-Columbian voyagers to the Americas, we will explore the many different forms of pseudoarchaeology and their impact on modern societies.
This course examines the nature and evolution of religious beliefs and practices across cultures. Many different cosmologies, mythologies, rituals, and magical systems of thought - such as animism, totemism, witchcraft, sorcery, and shamanism - will be explored from an anthropological perspective. Emphasis will be placed on the religions of indigenous societies and their unique cultural contexts. Students will also consider the role that religion plays in promoting cultural stability and in expressing patterns of cultural change due to colonialism and globalization.