Freshman Seminars, Fall 2018

ANTH 026-401 Behind the Iron Curtain

Instructor: Kristen Ghodsee

Tuesday/Thursday 1:30PM-3:00PM

This first-year seminar provides an introduction to the histories, cultures, and societies of Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the successor states of Yugoslavia. Through a selection of articles and essays written by anthropologists and sociologists and based on their extended fieldwork in the region, students will explore both the ethnographic method and the experience of everyday life during and after the communist era. Topics will include: popular music under socialism, food and wine, environmental concerns, the status of Muslim minorities, socialist aesthetics, public memory and cultures of commemoration, privatization, advertising, women's rights, gender and sexuality, emergent nationalisms, and the rise of income inequality and homelessness. All readings and assignments in English.


ANTH 058-401 Doing Research: Qualitative Methods and Research

Instructor: Lisa Mitchell

Tuesday/Thursday 10:30AM-12:00PM 

This interdisciplinary course introduces students to qualitative research methods and frameworks in the social sciences and humanities. The goals of the semester will be for each student to develop their own research proposal for a specific project that they could imagine pursuing over the summer or later in their undergraduate career,and to develop a web-based exhibit of one Penn-based research collection of interest. Students will be introduced to a range of textual, archival and media collections and databases available at Penn, with particular attention to South Asia and other specific regions of interest to course participants. The class will visit the Penn Musuem object collections and archives, the Art library, the Kislak Center for Rare Books and Manuscripts, Film Archives, and other special collections on campus, and meet with a representative from the Center for Undergraduate Research Funding (CURF). Students will learn how to frame an effective research question, situate it in relation to existing research, select the most appropriate methods for addressing the question, and develop an effective research plan. Each week students will be introduced to a new set of frameworks for analysis, see specific examples of their application drawn from anthropological, historical, and related scholarship and have opportunities to practice applying and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of specific methodological tools. Students will also have the opportunity to identify sources of funding for summer research projects and prepare applications for these opportunities as part of the course. The course is ideal as an introduction to both the excellent libraries and research collections housed at Penn, and to a wide range of intellectual frameworks for engaging with these collections - a great way to kick off your undergraduate experience at Penn! 


ANTH 060-301 Cultures of Science and Technology

Instructor: Adriana Petryna

Monday 2:00PM-5:00PM 

Science and technology figure centrally in the economic, political, and socio-cultural changes that impact our worlds. Happenings in the life sciences, including the discovery of new genes, pathways, and processes, are redrawing concepts of the body and human nature and refiguring social and political relations. The seminar starts from the premise that scientific facts are made, not things existing a priori in the world and that are merely picked up by researchers and consumed by lay audiences. Likewise, technologies are created through a process of intense negotiation between producers and their sophisticated users. Focusing on the biosciences, we explore the production of science and technology and how they 1)affect individuals, self-identities, subjectivity, kinship, and social relationships; 2)have interacted with or reinforced political programs, racial classifications, unequal access to knowledge, and patterns of social injustice; 3)inform contemporary institutional structures, strategies of governance, and practices of citizenship. We will combine methods and perspectives from social and cultural anthropology, and the social studies of science and technology, and will draw from historical case studies, documentary films and media reports. 


ANTH 086-301 Desire and Demand

Instructor: Marilynne Diggs-Thompson

Monday 2:00PM-5:00PM 

Does consumption shape culture or does culture shape consumption? As even the most mundane purchase becomes socially symbolic and culturally meaningful we can persuasively argue that the concept of "need" has been transformed. Analyzing a variety of physical and virtual consumer venues, the goal of this seminar is to understand and to analyze historical and contemporary issues related to a culture of consumption. We investigate social and political-economic factors that impact when and how people purchase goods and argue that behavior attached to consumption includes a nexus of influences that may change periodically in response to external factors. Readings and research assignments are interdisciplinary and require a critical analysis of global/local linkages. The city of Philadelphia becomes the seminar's laboratory as we ask: how have issues of culture, consumption, and global capitalism become intertwined around the world? 

Fulfills Cultural Diversity in US Requirement


ANTH 155-301 Globalization: Causes and Effects

Instructor: Brian Spooner

Tuesday 1:30PM-4:30PM 

Class sessions will be devoted to discussion of the dynamics of globalization with the objective of illuminating the world-historical context of the changes that are happening around us unevenly in different parts of the world today, and developing critical approaches to the available research methodologies and explanatory theories. Weekly readings will be selected from the major researchers in the field, and students will test their ideas in short research projects of their own on questions arising from the discussions. The overall approach will be historical and comparative. Apart from weekly assigned readings and participation in class discussions, requirements for the course include three short research papers.