James K. Wellman
Cultural interaction among societies and civilizations, particularly Western and non-Western. Intellectual, cultural, social, and artistic aspects; historical factors. Offered: Sp.
This course takes seriously the cultural factors that create the preferences, biases, behaviors, moral forms that shape and guide everyday thinking and behaving. The course will introduce students to the ways scientific knowledge (whether humanistic, social or scientific) always assumes a personal basis. We first understand our own cultural constructions that shape our perspectives and then expand and make a more sophisticated analysis of global cultures using reflexive sociology and anthropology. We tackle social and cultural interactions on a comparative basis on the topic of culture and violence. We focus on violence as it relates to race, gender, class, war and everyday life; ending with a section on violence and religion. Violence is the theme of the course in the sense that violence or forms of coercion are one of the fundamental ways culture is created, maintained and destroyed—whether in developed or less developed societies. It is also helps to show us how to deconstruct our cultural and social worlds in order to understand, explain and even to change them. In this sense, cultural analysis is a moral enterprise in that we recognize our own moral suppositions—reconstruct and develop new ones, and then use them to judge culture and if necessary, to change it based on a sense of what is needed and wanted.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
The teaching method will include lectures and interactive discussions, as well as a series of movies related to violence and culture. The teaching goals will be to create an environment where questions and dialogue are expected; to logically unfold how theoretical approaches are constructed; to be a resource for critical and creative thinking, and responsible action.
One or two of the SIS core courses.
Class assignments and grading
Student participation; short critiical papers on reading assignments; one group project and a take home written exam that calls for critical and creative reflection on readings, lectures and the movies assigned for the course.