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Cornell University    
  Feb 19, 2018
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ANTHR 6402 - [Material Theory II: Assemblage & Object]

(crosslisted) ARKEO 6402  
Spring. Next offered 2018-2019. 4 credits. Letter grades only.

Prerequisite: ANTHR 6401 /ARKEO 6401  or other course in social thought.

A. T. Smith.

This course explores recent efforts to theorize the materiality of human social, political, and cultural life. We will draw broadly from contemporary works in archaeology, socio-cultural anthropology, art, social thought, media studies, and literary theory to piece together a sense of the conceptual possibilities afforded by analytical engagement with the world of things. We will take the historical dynamics of things as our central concern, navigating between classic and contemporary debates over the social location, physical constitution, and agency of object worlds. Along the way we will take in contemporary arguments for objects as constitutive elements of mind, affect, and order. The goal of the course is to juxtapose the experience, perception, and imagination of objects in order to address critical gaps in our understanding of social life past, present, and future. As the second course in a sequence focused on material theory, this seminar is part of a wider effort to train students to be astute analysts of the material world.

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