On the production of "new normals"

This is a seminar reviewing theoretical developments in culture theory particularly as it takes seriously "education" as the fundamental human process that transforms experience into the 'arbitrary' patterns generally known as "culture" and thus triggers new educations into these patterns as people face the consequences of their arbitrariness, whether the goal is to reconstruct them, or to transform them.

This Spring 2015, I will explore a way to doing this that emphasizes two possibly contradictory aspects of this production:

  1. the production of the "new" (innovation, design, the never quite done this way before).
  2. the production of the "normal" that will mostly disappear in the conduct of everyday life.


While the class gestalt will be anthropological. Anthropology, as I understand it, as always been essentially a multi-disciplinary disciplined to the study of humanity that builds on all other disciplines that have something say about humanity, whether labelled "sociology," "linguistics," or "philosophy" (to mention those other disciplines from which this seminar most directly springs).

Thus I expect students in linguistics, sociology, history, political science, philosophy, communication, pedagogy, etc., to be interested in the seminar, as well as students in anthropology.

There are no specific pre-requisites. It will help if students have taken (or are familiar with the authors and topics addressed in) either of my courses Communication and Culture or Ethnography of Education. I also hope that students to have some relatively well-formed research interest about which they want to think theoretically. I will easily give permission to register to students who have taken these courses, or who have at least one year of graduate anthropology. To the others I will ask questions such as:

One does not have to answer "yes" to all these questions to get permission.

This seminar stands on its own but students would be well served by reading those authors who are not in the schedule this semester but which were discussed in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007.  One might also look at another year's general introduction to the seminar.