Course: ANT360
Instructor: Lederman
F 2014

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

This course encourages students to explore connections in their own lives to the academic/intellectual themes. It encourages a fundamental anthropological skill: discovering the value and complexity of our present experience. Ideally, students learn not just how to identify the rich and complicated dynamics expressed in interactions they can take for granted, but how to express these dynamics in concise and comprehensible language. Second, the syllabus design and Professor Lederman both encourage, if not require, broad intertextual reading. Thematically, the course asks students to expand their ethical thinking from what practices are “right and wrong” to how the same practices are understood in different ways, and with different judgements, depending on their contexts. For the “hidden” curriculum: Professor Lederman continually asks students to read their journal (see "Learning: Assignments & Assessments) verbatim during the journal sharing portion, yet the vast majority continues to paraphrase. I encourage you to read your journal as it is written. It is easier for most people to talk open-endedly about their experiences than it is to write succinctly about them, so sharing the journal verbatim—ideally with as little off the cuff commentary as possible—will help develop your writing skills, which Professor Lederman emphasizes

Learning From Classroom Instruction

Class is used as an opportunity to develop comparisons and connections, with only a small slice of structured time focusing on the week’s readings in themselves.

Learning For and From Assignments

What can be challenging about the course’s broad syllabus is keeping track of the readings. In each week’s discussion, the professor frequently mentions and compares the week’s topic to past weeks’, and students quickly learn to do so as well. (On the flip side, this encourages you not to stress about understanding every bit of the author’s arguments, since the broad strokes are most important. The strategy of synthesizing class and reading notes into a central document will be extremely helpful. By spending just a few minutes after the second class each week jotting down notable themes and vocabulary terms, you can painlessly compile an easy reference guide which is useful for class discussion, the final paper, and the class’s most distinct feature: the weekly journal. The journal serves as a nexus of course values and curriculum structure. Students unfamiliar to anthropology may at first feel out of field with the journaling assignment, which asks them to talk about anecdotes from their own lives and elucidate their connections to the readings. So the “skill” of recognizing the value in one’s own occasionally mundane experience—not something we are all trained in—is foundational to the journal writing process. If you feel uncomfortable with the personal element, one suggestion is to volunteer to share your journal the first week of class. (Not everyone gets to each week.) This is to receive feedback about the relevance of your experience, and the opportunity to briefly ad lib about why you wrote it will further develop the skill of culling relevance from your personal anecdotes. Also, although turning in the first week’s journal is mandatory, it is subsequently optional until week 6, when you submit all of them as a midterm assessment, and then again until week 12, when you submit all 12 together. For this reason, some students make it to Week 6 or Week 12 and find themselves writing six weeks of journal entries the night before they are due. To avert this, I recommend finding a “journal buddy” with whom you can exchange entries and give feedback before class. Not only will this sharpen your writing, it will hold you accountable. Professor Lederman mentions that the journal entries provide a chance to evolve: if a student focuses mainly on reading themes, they can learn to focus equally on their anecdote; if a student’s strength is analyzing their anecdote, they can learn to more explicitly engage each distinct reading. Taking advantage of the Professor’s optional feedback will help you find this line while simultaneously helping her to see it.

External Resources

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Ethics in Context: Uses and Abuses of Deception and Disclosure

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