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ANTH 021: Human Cultures **NOTE, this is a tentative syllabus and subject to revision**

UVM Summer 2012 (July 2-27 th ) M-TH 9-12:45


Teresa Mares, Ph.D. Office: Williams Hall Room 501

Email: Office Hours: TBD

Course Description:

Through this course, students will be introduced to the history, scope, theory, and relevance of cultural anthropology in today’s world. Cultural anthropology has a long and controversial past, yet has produced fascinating knowledge about our own society and societies that are unfamiliar to us. As a social science, anthropology allows us to better understand cultural diversity through the use of ethnographic methods. Ethnography can be described as both the process and product of cultural anthropology, and is characterized by field research methods that are holistic, mostly qualitative, and longitudinal (meaning that in-depth ethnographic research often takes a long time!) The two ethnographies that we will read class focus on child nutrition and the relationships between children and food. Dancing Skeletons by Katherine Dettwyler draws upon fieldwork in Mali, while The Pull of the Earth by Laurie Thorp draws upon fieldwork closer to home, in the Midwestern United States.

Together, we will learn how an anthropological perspective is useful in every profession and course of study. We will cover a broad range of topics, including how people make a living, reproduce and develop, get sick and get well, form family bonds, organize themselves socially and politically, communicate, worship and pray, express their creativity, and move around the world. Through in-class lectures and activities, reading ethnographic articles and books, and viewing ethnographic films, students will be encouraged to question their assumptions of what it means to be human.

Learning Objectives:

Identify main anthropological concepts and definitions and understand their relevance in everyday life.

Understand how cultural anthropology has changed over time and what these changes mean in terms of methodology, scope, and application.

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of ethnographic methods in diverse cultural contexts.

Analyze and compare, using examples and case studies, how human practices are both similar and dissimilar across cultural boundaries.

Consider how anthropology provides a “tool-kit” for addressing pressing social concerns and challenges.

Expectations of Students:

Arrive on time for class, attendance is expected!

Students must familiarize themselves with how to access and utilize the course Blackboard site. Grades and additional readings will be posted on the site.

Please turn off your cell phones at the beginning of class. Texting is not permitted.

Students should arrive each day prepared to engage with the readings and are expected to bring textbooks to class.

Laptops are to be used for notetaking only…no Facebook, no Twitter, no TMZ.

Questions, questions, questions! Although this is a large lecture class, questions are not only encouraged, but expected!

Textbooks/ Readings/ Films:

There are 3 textbooks available for purchase at the UVM Bookstore and on 2-hour reserve at Bailey Howe Library. Additional readings will be posted on the course Blackboard site.

Miller, Barbara

2011 [6 th Edition] Cultural Anthropology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Dettwyler, Katherine

1994 Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa. Long Grove, IL: Waveland.

Thorp, Laurie

2006 The Pull of the Earth: Participatory Ethnography in the School Garden. New York:


All films screened in class are considered part of the required course materials. If you miss a screening, it is expected that you view the film outside of class. All films will be on reserve at Bailey Howe Library and a list of films screened will be on the Blackboard site.

Assignments and Grading


There will be 5 quizzes during the semester. Each quiz will be taken in class and will have a combination of multiple-choice, true/false, and short answer questions. Each quiz is worth 10 points and will cover readings, lectures, films, and other material presented in class. There are no make-up dates for these quizzes, but your lowest quiz score will be dropped.

(4 quizzes x 10 pts. each)

40 points total

Book Reviews

For each ethnography, students will write a 3-page book review that offers an original critique of the author’s work. These reviews should go beyond summarizing the main points of the book and follow the AQCS format described below. Book reviews must be typed, double-spaced, using 12pt font. Papers turned in late will be deducted 10% per day.

(2 reviews x 10 pts. each)

20 points total

Argument, Question, Connection, Significance (AQCS)

1. Argument. What is the author arguing for and what is s/he arguing against? In stating the

argument, you should pull passages directly from the text and make sure to properly cite the author’s name, publication year, and page number using the following form (Green 2002:25).

2. Question. What questions remain for you after reading for the text? What does the author

not address?

3. Connection. How does this text connect to other concepts and ideas from the class? Does it

reinforce or challenge what you have learned? How or why?

4. Significance. What are the main findings of the author’s research? How does the text help

us better understand human culture or society?

In-Class Exercises

I will not be taking attendance, but beginning in week 2, there will be in-class exercises that

will include brief pop quizzes, in-class writing, film responses, or group discussions. There will be at least 10 in-class exercises during the semester. There are no make-ups for missed exercises.

20 points total

Final Exam

The final exam will be comprehensive, which means that it will cover all materials and readings from the semester. The final exam will have a combination of multiple-choice, true/false, and short answer questions. We will have a exam review during the last day of class. There will be no-make up final exams except in the case of a documented medical or family emergency.

20 points total

Other Policies:

Academic Honesty:

All students and faculty are expected to abide by the University of Vermont’s Code of Academic Integrity. I encourage students to come to office hours or schedule a meeting for extra help with writing assignments. More information about the UVM Code of Academic Integrity is available online:

Disability Accommodations:

ACCESS provides Accommodations, Consultation, Collaboration, and Educational Support Services to students with documented disabilities. Among our programs and services, ACCESS offers: exam accommodations, meetings with disability specialists to receive advisement and advocacy around disability-related matters, ebooks, deaf and hard of hearing services, notetaking and adaptive technology. ACCESS students should contact me within the first two weeks of the semester to discuss necessary accommodations.

Missed Class and Religious Holidays:

University policy states that if you plan to miss a class during the semester because of a religious holiday, you must submit to me in writing a religious holiday schedule for the semester by the end of the second full week of classes. Students who miss work for the purpose of religious observance are permitted to make up this work.

Weekly Schedule: TBD