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Course Catalog

Courses Primarily for Graduate Students

ANTHRO 485 – Mind, Body, and Health

This course will provide a graduate level introduction to the anthropology of mind, body, and health. We will address broadly the question of how Anthropologists understand and investigate the social and cultural contexts of health and illness and the diverse ways in which humans use cultural resources to cope with pain, illness, suffering and healing. In addition, we will analyze medical practices as cultural systems, as well as the ways in which health, body, and mind are socially and politically constructed and manipulated, bodies are controlled and policed, and definitions of mind and mental processes influence and are influenced by social context. There will be a particular focus on the concepts of embodiment and trauma and their various uses and meanings in specific contexts. We will combine an examination of current theoretical paradigms with ethnographic case material from a number of societies, including Brazil, Japan, the US, and Canada. The goal of this comparative endeavor will be to analyze similarities and differences across understandings of mind and body and systems of healing, and to examine American perspectives, behaviors, and practices critically in order to illuminate the ways in which they are socially embedded and culturally specific.

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HISTORY 485 – Literature of the History of Science

Recent scholarship in the history of science, technology and medicine has sought to open for examination the processes by which certain features of the world—including our social life—have come to be marked out as "natural," even as they have paradoxically been made more subject to control. But how was the boundary between the natural and the artificial drawn in the first place? And how has the character of this knowledge been shaped by its social and political context? In this class we read historical works alongside articles from the field of science studies. The course moves temporally from the early modern era to the twenty-first century, covering topics ranging from the role of wonder, artisanal labor, and global exchange in the rise of scientific knowledge… to science's more recent roles in state-building, marker of racial and sexual difference, and predictor of our climate's future. Throughout we will treat knowledge-making as a social process that involves the labor of many different kinds of people, working in ways that simultaneously reflect and reshape the broader culture.

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MTS 525 – Environment and Climate Issues in Media, Technology, and Society

This Ph. D. seminar investigates environmental and climatological issues in relation to the field of Media, Technology, and Society. The seminar is organized into five themes, with a book and additional readings ( additional readings provided via Canvas) for each theme: Land (Schwoch, Wired Into Nature); Sea (Starosielksi, The Undersea Network); Sky (Jones-Imhotep, The Unreliable Nation); Animals (Benson, Wired Wilderness); and Humans (Latour, Down To Earth.) In addition to readings, discussions, screenings, and in-class presentations, students will conduct research relevant to the themes of the class and their own Ph. D. research trajectories.

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SOCIOL 406 – Contemporary Theory

Modernity has become a contested term. This class investigates how various thinkers have conceived of what it means to be “modern" or "post-modern," critiques of modernity that have profoundly shaped our images of it, and skeptics who challenge the idea of modernity. It also includes sections that investigate in detail what I call "mechanisms" of modernity: procedures, devices, approaches or strategies that people adopt or promulgate in their efforts to be rational, manage uncertainty and conflict, or attain efficiency in various institutional arenas.

SOCIOL 476 – Sociology of Health, Illness, and Biomedicine

This course will provide an introduction to central topics in the sociology of health, illness, and biomedicine. At the same time, it will show how that field has been redefined and reinvigorated by science and technology studies. We will seek to understand health, health care, and biomedicine by exploring multiple domains: the work sites in which health professionals interact with one another, with their tools, and with their clients; the research settings where medical knowledge and technologies are generated; the cultural arenas within which ideas of health and disease circulate; the market relations that produce health care as a commodity; the institutions and practices that transform social inequalities into health disparities; the social movements that challenge the authority of experts; and the bodies and selves that experience and are remade by illness.

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