S 2017


This course asks the question: how did we come to be who we are?  To answer that question, we will aim throughout to think like anthropologists, examining the most important moments in the modern understanding of the human in the Western world, with an eye always to the changes happening today because of the digital revolution.  Each moment of transition is accompanied by a shift in technologies of communication: the move from orality to literacy (ancient Greece); the introduction of print (Renaissance Italy and England); the industrial revolution (19th- and 20th-century England and America); the digital revolution (our postmodern present).  All aspects of the human will be explored: visuality, space, time, psychology, knowledge, faith, government, art, architecture, music, science, urban space, discipline and punishment.

One large focus of the course is the Renaissance, which will occupy our attention until March Break, when a section of this class will go to Venice, Italy to see and hear firsthand the art, architecture, music, and scientific artifacts that we will discuss in Making the Human.  These students, enrolled in the companion 2-credit course, HONR 299—Inventing Venice, will be keeping a blog that engages with what we discuss and see during our visit to Italy.  Anyone in Making the Human who is not going to Venice can, if they wish, follow those students going to Venice by responding to their blogs over March Break. 

The course finishes by catching up to our postmodern present, when we will apply our anthropological techniques to the world we live in now and ask ourselves: how did we come to be who we are?

Grade Breakdown

  1. 1.Timeline: 30%

  2. 2.Final Paper: 30%

  3. 3.Participation: 40%

Course Description