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Anthropology of Life in the United States


Fall Semester Seminar, GenEd area 4


With all of its apparent diversity, what, exactly, constitutes “American Life” in 2014? What does it possibly mean to be American? This course uses anthropological methods of inquiry and ethnographic writing to consider these and many other questions. If the life in the United States is represented by Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, Cliff the butcher, and you and me, can we possibly articulate anything that we all have in common? The course will include four loosely connected segments: Higher Education; Environment, Energy, and Food; Underground Economies; and something I’m calling, “Haven’t we gotten over the 80s?”. Each section will include readings, discussions, field excursions, and films. Throughout the course, we will include our own experiences as valid information about what it means to live in the United States. Of course, it would be silly to ignore the fact that this course will take place against the backdrop of a Presidential election. While no one section is devoted to electoral politics, we will include on-going political debates throughout.

From the Professor

How does your University College section of this course differ from a non-University College section?

The University College section is very involved in real-world examples in Washington D.C. through the Wednesday labs. This section also has a greater incorporation of current events.

How do your Wednesday labs tie into the academic content of your course?

Our Wednesday labs are essential! We go to different parts of D.C. that most people never see and incorporate those trips and experiences into class as content.

Meet the Professor!

Bryan McNeil

Learn more about Professor McNeil's teaching style and goals for the course

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