University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

First-Year Experience 2015-2016


ANTH 028A ~ D2: Linguistic Anthropology

Instructor: Jennifer Dickinson Associate Professor of Anthropology More . . .

This course offers students an introduction to the field of linguistic anthropology, which examines the close relationship between language and culture. Focusing on work that has been influential in anthropology, we will consider several key questions: How is language distinctly human, and how does it relate to other forms of communication? What is the relationship between the language we speak and the way we see, understand, and act in the world? Beyond communicating "facts" to one another, what role does language play in the way we live our lives as cultural beings? How do conversations, language choice, and language learning contribute to the way people recognize and act in accordance with larger cultural patterns and values in society? Throughout the course, language as people actual use it, imagine it, or talk about it, will be our primary topic for reading and discussion as we draw on examples from languages and cultures throughout the world. Among the topics we will consider from the perspective of language and culture are linguistic structure and cultural expression, language and gender, language and power, bilingualism, and language as a means of social action.

Requirements Satisfied: one Social Sciences course and a D2 non-European Cultures course

ANTH 095A ~ Ruins

Instructor: Scott Van Keuren Associate Professor of Anthropology More . . .

Ruins of the past mesmerize the human imagination. From ancient sites to present-day abandoned buildings, we are fascinated by the vestiges of societal collapse and decay. What fuels this fixation, and what does it say about our sense of ourselves and the world around us? Is this schadenfreude, the pleasure taken in experiencing others' misfortunes? Are we gearing up for our own dystopic futures? And most important, how and why do we feed this fixation through "ruin-porn," urban-exploration, artifact collecting, and other means? The class tackles these questions through readings, discussion, and site visitations, with special attention to the portrayal of ruins in film, photography, and other media. Case-studies will range broadly from archaeological sites in the past to modern warzones and urban ruins. The course will expand your critical awareness of an important dimension of the human experience.

Requirements Satisfied: one Social Sciences course

ANTH 095B ~ Street Children

Instructor: Jonah Steinberg Associate Professor of Anthropology More . . .

The study of the most acute human experiences of suffering forms a worthwhile endeavor. In this course, students will have a chance to delve deeply into the lives of people living under some of the most difficult conditions anywhere. Populations of street children can be found in cities across the planet. With numbers in the tens or perhaps hundreds of millions, they are among the least powerful and the least privileged in our contemporary global system. Their existence and situation, and the question of whether they embody a single phenomenon, present us with a powerful lens for studying the ways that large-scale processes affect individual people and places. Through an inspection of the ethnography of street children, we can better understand the ways that historical forces like globalization, colonialism, and industrial capitalism shape people's daily lives and experiences. Observations point to important questions about social life, history, and subjective personal experience. Students will explore those questions with a variety of tools and will examine in detail questions that might help us explain how and why populations of street children come into existence. Our focus will be on the impact of social change and upheaval upon homes, families, and lives. Hands-on research, with opportunities for videoconferences and in-depth research on real life, provides this course with an unusual practical focus.

Requirements Satisfied: one Social Sciences course