ANTH 266 Spring 2013 Cultural Evolution (W)

The past decade has seen a revival of Big History in the form of studies of large-scale, persistent patterns in human cultural development. This interdisciplinary tutorial draws on the insights of Big History by bringing together evolutionary thought and complexity theory to consider the emergence of recognizably human social behavior in the distant past, the impact of such innovations as language, tool-making, and ritual on human adaptation, and the circumstances that eventually led to the domestication of plants and animals and the rise of ranked societies and social inequality. Readings will include works by the historian David Christian, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, and the physical anthropologist Barbara King, among others. Questions to be considered in the tutorial include: What is the evolutionary significance of religion? Why did human populations shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture even though farming is risky and requires much more work? What can complexity theory tell us about the trajectory of human societies as the global population increases? How plausible is that claim that digital technologies and sophisticated prosthetics are destined to transform us into a posthuman species?
Class Format: tutorial
Requirements/Evaluation: each student will write and present orally an essay of approx. 7 double-spaced pages every other week on a topic assigned by the instructor; students not presenting an essay have the responsibility of critiquing the work of their colleague
Additional Info: not available for the Gaudino option and may not be taken Pass/Fail
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Prerequisites: none, but prior exposure to anthropology and evolutionary theory is desirable
Enrollment Preference: majors in Anthropology or Sociology; open to sophomores
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Divisional Attributes: Division II,Writing Intensive
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Enrollment Limit: 10
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 3288
ANTH266-T1(S) TUT Cultural Evolution (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive Michael F. Brown
TBA 3288
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