Freshman Seminars

Fall 2017 - FRS 111 Trumpland (SA)
This course will examine the areas of the United States that went heavily for Donald Trump, and the factors behind the election of 2016. We will examine the decline of the working class, the Rust Belt, conspiracy theory, the “post-fact” world, and the social construction of whiteness. Andrew A. Johnson

Fall 2015 - FRS 125  Culture and the Soul (EM) 
The American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of its “bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, in May 2013 – the result of fourteen years of planning, research, and debate concerning new developments in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Many psychiatric professionals take the new DSM, which will be used in clinical settings worldwide, as a definitive shift away from a traditional psychological approach to mental illness, and toward a neurobiological approach invested in pharmaceutical treatment. What exactly does this manual tell us about mental illness today – and what doesn’t it tell us? How universal are its categories of symptoms and syndromes? How effective are its diagnostic procedures at comprehending the varieties and causes of mental suffering? This seminar addresses mental illness as a medical problem, a spiritual problem, and a social problem that has taken on radically different forms and implications in different cultural contexts. Elizabeth Davis

Fall 2015 - FRS 165  Self to Selfies (EC)
In 2013 the Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” the Word of the Year. It grows out of new forms of technologically enabled communication, which includes new games such as chat roulette, and new forms of public exposure such as sexting. What is this about? How have we arrived here? This course explores transformations in understandings of the self in science and popular culture. In many cultural traditions, from Buddhism in Asia to psychoanalysis in the West, the “self” is an important object of speculation, analysis, and power. From anthropological and psychoanalytic perspectives, it examines three questions: How is the self formed? Under what conditions can the self change? What is the self’s relationship to culture, society, politics, and economy? It will explore these questions with literature from ethnography, literature, television serials, and film. Most of the focus will be on American culture, but the course will also include material from other culture areas. John Borneman

Fall 2014 - FRS 165  Self to Selfies (EC)
In 2013 the Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” the Word of the Year. It grows out of new forms of technologically enabled communication, which includes new games such as chat roulette, and new forms of public exposure such as sexting. What is this about? How have we arrived here? This course explores transformations in understandings of the self in science and popular culture. In many cultural traditions, from Buddhism in Asia to psychoanalysis in the West, the “self” is an important object of speculation, analysis, and power. From anthropological and psychoanalytic perspectives, it examines three questions: How is the self formed? Under what conditions can the self change? What is the self’s relationship to culture, society, politics, and economy? It will explore these questions with literature from ethnography, literature, television serials, and film. Most of the focus will be on American culture, but the course will also include material from other culture areas. John Borneman