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ANTH 390

Topics in Anthropology

An exploration of selected topics in anthropology, culture and society (see Anthropology of the U.S. and topics listed under ANTH 290.) Prerequisite: sophomore standing. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Sophomore standing 1/2-1 course

Fall Semester information

Rebecca Schindler

390A: Tps:The Archaeology of Cult

Through investigation of the material remains of cult practice, this course seeks to understand how past human cultures interacted with the divine world. We will begin with a critical review of the major anthropological and archaeological theories on the interpretation of religion and ritual activity. Over the course of the semester we will apply these theories to the evidence from the ancient Mediterranean, from prehistoric settlements in Anatolia, to the Panhellenic sanctuaries of ancient Greece, to the temple complexes of the Roman world and the advent of Christianity. Cult sites in the ancient world not only served as loci for ritual performance, but also as places of political and economic power. Different categories of evidence -- from marble sculptures to the remains of animal sacrifices -- reflect the worship practices of diverse members of the community, challenging us to understand how ancient religion permeated all levels of society. The methodological problems inherent in the interpretation of the archaeological evidence for cult practices also present an opportunity for us to examine our own assumptions and biases about religion in non-monotheistic cultures.

Spring Semester information

Angela Castaneda

390A: Tps:Ethnographic Perspectives on Reproduction and Childbirth

Clark Sage

390B: Tps:Native North American Cultures

This course will introduce students to the diversity of Indigenous cultures of North America from the American anthropological tradition, which is founded on a four sub-field approach (sociocultural, archaeology, biophysical, and linguistic). Lectures will draw from these sub-fields to provide historical and cultural context to ground the readings and discussions in our exploration of the unique and specific cultural traditions around North America. Fundamental concepts of sociocultural anthropology are presented throughout the course to serve as a means for understanding Indigenous cultures. The immense amount of geographic space and number of societies will be managed using the culture area concept. While this device is somewhat arbitrary in its division of space and societies, it is useful for both relativistic and comparative study as we consider how different societies developed in relation to social organization, culture, and ecology.