Semiotic Anthropology

MoWe 3:00PM - 4:15PM / 253 Cathedral of Learning / CRN 23857

Semiotic anthropology examines the social life of meaning. It extends questions of representation and interpretation beyond the study of language to examine how culture orders, and is ordered by, the objects that surround us. Drawing on recent work in anthropology, philosophy, and industrial design this course investigates four interrelated questions: How are value and meaning assigned to objects? How does culture shape sensory perception? How are styles defined, interpreted and changed over time? How do landscapes, infrastructure, and architecture shape possibilities for thought and action? As well as reading a range of classic and contemporary scholarly works, students in the course will experiment with methods through which ethnographers and designers seek to document and interpret the social life of material things. Assignments for the course include short reading responses, a photo essay, and a short paper. No prior knowledge of anthropology or semiotics is expected. This course is open to graduate and undergraduate students from any field.

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Laura Brown

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Category A: Text and Theory

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