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Anthropology: Alcohol and Culture

ANTH 195 OL1 (CRN: 60450)

3 Credit Hours—Seats Available!

About ANTH 195 OL1

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Jennifer Dickinson ()


DATES: July 14-August 8, 2014; Prerequisites: ANTH 21; Closed to Registration

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Section Description

Alcohol consumption has long been a common practice in many cultures, with a history that goes back thousands of years. This course takes an anthropological approach to the consumption of alcohol in cross-cultural perspective, considering the diversity in practices surrounding drinking from the point of view of cultural and linguistic anthropology, with some material from the fields of biological anthropology and archaeology. Through anthropological studies of drinking cultures, we will focus on the many cultural meanings that surround alcohol and the places and situations in which it is consumed. Ethnographic analyses will include examples from the US and throughout the world. Some of the topics we will cover include: drinking and social identity; cultural ideas about gender and drinking; cultural understandings of alcohol abuse; "drunk talk" across cultures; and archaeological and biological evidence for drinking cultures in the past and the origins of drinking.

Section Expectation

General learning goals for this course include: 1. Increase awareness of the role that culture plays in the consumption and experience of alcohol, as well as of the diversity of cultural meanings surrounding the consumption of alcohol. 2. Examine the cultural frameworks in which alcohol production and consumption are understood in different cultures. In this course, students will achieve the following specific learning objectives: 1. Practice skills related to ethnographic fieldwork such as observation, text analysis, and ethnographic writing. 2. Contribute observations and analyses to a class ethnography of the role alcohol plays in American culture and subcultures. (Drinking is neither required nor encouraged in the fulfillment of the coursework). 3. Demonstrate understanding of alcohol production and consumption as part of larger theoretical discussions, such as the emergence of social stratification, gendered cultural practices and the development of behaviors over the life course.


This course has several short writing assignments, a longer midterm essay and an essay final exam. Active participation is required and counts towards a significant portion of students' final grade.


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