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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

William R Seaburg
BIS 366
Bothell Campus

Exploring American Culture: Americans at the Margins

Examines a range of American folklore and folklife, including folk speech, worldview, and folk medicine and religion. Focuses on the relationship between the ideologies of official/institutional cultures and folk cultures. Stresses diverse interpretive approaches within American Studies.

Class description

This course will examine a range of interrelated topics within the disciplines of American folklore and folklife, Anthropology, and American Studies. We will begin with a general overview of American folklore and folklife, with a brief foray into material culture. Then we will examine the study of American folk speech, especially as a tool for accessing ideas of worldview and folk beliefs. Next we will consider the topic of folk beliefs and health, including bodylore, folk medicine, and folk healers, emphasizing folk beliefs and practices as unofficial alternatives to the dominant ideology of biomedicine. Then we will study several examples of American folk or vernacular religion, where folk speech, worldview, folk beliefs, bodylore, and notions of sickness and healing can coalesce as a set of more-or-less shared ideologies and practices. We will also consider selected aspects of the history of biomedicine and of alternative medicines in the United States. Finally, we consider what happens when American emigrant Hmong beliefs about illness and healing clash with those of the biomedical community.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures and class discussion, with a strong emphasis on class participation.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Graded exercises and a final take-home exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Pamela A. De Priest
Date: 04/13/2006