Eugene S Hunn
Surveys anthropological theories and research on the relationship between language, thought, and behavior. Examines the influence of cultural inheritance on perception, classification, inference, and choice. Describes relevant cross-cultural research methods and evaluates theoretical models used by cognitive anthropologists. Prerequisite: either ANTH 203, LING 203, or PSYCH 355.
This course will introduce students to the contributions of cultural anthropology to our understanding of how humans of varied cultures understand the world we live in. Cognitive anthropology is the study of culture and mind. Culture is concerned with the knowledge, beliefs, and assumptions held by members of a society, while cognition is concerned with how individuals construct an image of themselves and of their world in thought. Accounts of exotic customs described from distant corners of the globe, first by travelers, missionaries, and colonial officials, later by professional anthropologists, have fueled speculation in Western intellectual circles concerning the evolution of human intelligence. These accounts have also been cited as evidence for the psychic unity of mankind. Cognitive anthropologists pursue these issues systematically, testing the theories of philosophers and psychologists in the "laboratory" of global cultural variation. This course will examine recent research findings concerning cultural influences on perception, classification, memory, semantics, logical inference, decision-making, and metaphor, issues of concern not only to cultural anthropology, but also for psychology, linguistics, and philosophy. A graduate seminar, ANTH 542 is offer at the same time for graduate students interested in the topic.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
A mix of lectures, class projects, class presentations, and class discussion of readings.
Interest in and appreciation of cultural variation within the context of our common human nature. An appreciation of empirical data as a check on formal theories. A willingness to engage your colleagues in discussion and debate.
Class assignments and grading
Three required texts and a reading packet. Daily preparation to engage the required material. For more formal work assignments see below.
Requirements include a short take-home, micro-essay style midterm worth 25% of the course grade, an in-class short-answer/multiple-choice style final exam worth 30% of the grade, and a short (8-12 page) research paper, worth 40%. Research papers are to be written in response to a set of questions I will pose during the first week of class.