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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Course Descriptions

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Anthropology

42285 • Keating, Elizabeth L.
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SAC 5.102
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Description:

Anthropology is the study of human cultures. Anthropologists describe and analyze different ways that communities define and interpret their experiences and the world around them. This course explores anthropological approaches to researching culture and society, specifically by looking at ways we use language and other symbolic forms in creating our important social relationships. This includes identities, distinctions based on race, ethnicity, and gender, the character of our social institutions, the creation of social inequality, youth culture, language socialization and other key aspects of the rich daily life of individuals and groups. Language is a key way that people create, share, and dispute knowledge about their world and the nature of human experience.

Texts/Readings:

The following books and readings will be included:

Delaney, Carol, Investigating Culture

Anderson, Benedict, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia

Abu-Lughod, Lila, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society

Reading selections from authors such as Goffman, Gumperz, Austin, Bourdieu, Hymes, Foucault, Giddens, Ochs, Tannen, and specific ethnographic studies and examples.

Assignments:

Students will be expected to participate actively in classroom discussions. Students will prepare short initial responses to the week's assigned readings prior to class (these responses and classroom participation are worth 20% of the grade). The class will include three writing assignments (6-8 pages each, worth a total of 40% of the grade) and two exams (worth a total of 40% of the grade).

About the Professor:

Professor Keating teaches courses in Anthropology (Culture and Communication, Visual Anthropology, New Communication Technologies, and Language in Society), and she was Director of the Science, Technology & Society Program at UT Austin from 2003-2007. She is the author of numerous articles on the role of language in constructing social inequalities, language and power, societal impacts of new communication technologies, and visual communication. She has conducted fieldwork in Pohnpei (Micronesia), Romania, India, Brazil, the U.S. Deaf Community, and among scientists and engineers in the U.S. She was the recipient in 2009 of the DIIA Award for Excellence in Teaching.

 

S S 301 • Hon Soc Sci: Psychology

42290 • Domjan, Wendy I
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm NOA 1.126
(also listed as PSY 301)
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Description:

Psychology is a discipline that is broadly concerned with the ways in which people perceive, understand and interact with the world. As such, it addresses questions that range from the micro level of perception within the eye to the macro level of social interactions among people. The SS 301 in psychology is designed to introduce students to a representative range of the topics subsumed within this discipline. We will be taking a levels-of-explanation approach, in which we will simultaneously explore the biological, environmental, and cultural aspects of each of the selected problems. We will also specifically consider the ways in which psychology investigates these problems, in terms of both methodology and epistemology. The hope is that students will leave the SS 301 with an understanding not only of what psychology studies, but also of how and why.

Readings:

Schacter, Gilbert & Weber. Psychology

Marcus. The Norton Psychology Reader

Keith. Cross Cultural Psychology

Requirements:

This class contains a substantial amount of writing and will involve both papers and exams. Students will write a series of four short (3-5 pages) reaction papers. For each paper, students will choose one of about five alternative questions, related to what is currently happening in class, to address. These papers are intended to involve analysis and opinion, not factual recitation. There will also be a midterm and a final exam. Both of these exams will have a short answer/short essay format, and will be take-home exams. Final grades will be computed on the following basis:

Exams:                 50% (25% each)

Papers:                 40% (10% each)

Participation:         10% 

Example paper topics:

An inevitable trade-off exists in research between control and ecological validity. This trade-off can be seen in a wide variety of ways in psychology: a lab versus a natural location for research, a randomly chosen versus a naturally occurring group of subjects, focusing on a limited set of factors at the expense of the diversity of influences on any behavior. In your view, how should psychology deal with this issue? For example, is psychology a science? Should it be? Should it adopt the same constraints (control) as natural sciences? You can make a strong argument for one approach or the other, or present a balanced middle ground.

The argument has been made that, in principle, it would be impossible for human beings to fully understand the nature of their own brain. What is your view of this argument, and why?

The current zeitgeist in psychology is to find the neurological mechanism associated with a given cognition, emotion or behavior. Does finding such a mechanism constitute an explanation for the given cognition/emotion/behavior? Why or why not?

A major issue in psychology, practically since its inception, has concerned the relative influence of genetics and environment. Originally, this was seen as an either-or question, later as a matter of degrees of influence, and most recently in terms of the components of an interaction. Though it is rarely asked, it is worth considering whether this is really an important question, and why? What is your position on this issue?

The research on hemisphere specialization led to the popular conception of people who are right-brained or left-brained. In light of what you have learned about hemisphere specialization, do you find this to be a useful concept? Why or why not? 

About the Professor:

Wendy Domjan has a Ph.D. in psychology from The University of Wisconsin, with specialties in perception and cognition, and currently has a major focus on psychology of religion and positive psychology.

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