John Dewey once suggested that the words "common," "community," and "communication" each illuminated different aspects of one process: the process by which human beings organize themselves to act together in particular historical situations, and thereby to produce (accomplish?) what anthropologists most technically, and now many other disciplines in various ways, know as "(a?) culture."

In this course, I explore, critique, and develop in different directions some of the implications of this general insight into the human condition. What can we say about the place of "culture" in the transformation of humanity? I address this question from the point of view of a cultural anthropologist who has worked extensively with culture theories to understand everyday life in families, in schools and classrooms, at home and abroad. The course is organized as a critical discussion of the major traditions of work as these have conversed with each other:

The focus will remain on interpersonal processes (rather than the effect of these processes on the constitution of the personality). Of primary interest will be the structuring of face to face interaction, and the organization of larger groupings through symbolic means. In all cases the emphasis will remain on what is done with what is available, rather than on what is meant, on exchange (of messages, things, and people) rather than on transmission of information.

There are no disciplinary prerequisites for taking this class, though a strong undergraduate background in the humanities and/or the social sciences will help.


Some quotes from students' comments after taking the course