James A. Quitslund
Cultural interaction among societies and civilizations, particularly Western and non-Western. Intellectual, cultural, social, and artistic aspects; historical factors. Offered: Sp.
Students will gain an understanding of the cultural background and impact of many of the forces that have shaped world affairs since the middle of the 15th century, when European and non-European civilizations began to interact in distinctly 'modern' ways, gradually becoming what we now call 'interdependent.' We will devote some attention early in the quarter to the characteristics of selected forms of traditional culture, contrasting these characteristics with those of modern forms of social organization, economic affairs and culture. We will pay attention to the cultural impact of modern capitalism and to the arguments of its critics. After studying the interaction of tradition and modernity in selected regions of the world (the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, Latin America) we will study the impact of cultural diversity on local, regional and global environmental practices and policies. Finally, we will examine several models for a 'world order' that have been put forward in the late 1990s. We will ask how well each of them accounts for the power of the West while acknowledging the existence of cultures and groups whose needs may not be satisfied by the seemingly irresistible trend towards the globalization of Western political beliefs and economic and cultural practices.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
There are four meetings of the entire course and one section each week. On at least five Fridays, the lecture will be replaced by an open session devoted to the discussion of required readings and contemporary events.
No advance preparation is required, and there are no rigid prerequisites. Throughout the quarter, it will be important to attend lectures and discussions, participate in sections and keep up with required readings and writing assignments.
Class assignments and grading
The course requires substantial amounts of reading. The TAs prepare study questions to assist students in their effort to identify and debate the most important issues and to interact with each other in sections and study groups.
Four brief papers (2-6 pages), participation in open discussions and sections, final examination.