Sex, Skulls and Aliens: Controversies in Anthropology

INTD 105-01

MF 11:30-12:45

SUNY College at Geneseo

Spring 2013

Instructor: Kristi J. Krumrine                                           
Office: Fraser 118                                                       
Phone: 245.5043 (office)

                        585.281.3821 (cell)


                                               Office hours: MF 12:45-2:15 pm

                        or by appointment


Course Outline


Description and Objectives

Anthropology is a dynamic social science centering on issues of human culture and biology. Many of these issues evoke controversy and debate within the field and also make their way into mainstream society. This course is organized topically around a selection of controversial topics, most of which are the subjects of current debate. These topics are also representative of the subfields of anthropology, including sociocultural, biological and archaeological anthropology. These topics include: the Mead/Freeman debate concerning the sexual behavior of adolescent Samoans, female circumcision and globalization, the Piltdown fraud and the discovery of early human fossils, the NAGPRA law and the question of ownership of Native American skeletal remains, and the issue of whether extra-terrestrial life-forms were responsible for the cultural achievements of past humans (hence, the title of the course: sex, skulls and aliens). The primary goals of this course are for students to develop critical thinking and reading skills and the ability to clearly express their ideas in writing. Course material will be presented through lectures and films, and processed in class discussions and written analyses.


Required Text

Wysocki and Lynch, The DK Handbook. 2nd ed. ISBN: 978-0-205-73076-6

** Additional readings are on mycourses


Student Learning Outcomes

All sections of INTD 105 Writing Seminar share these learning outcomes. Students who have taken INTD 105 will demonstrate:

1.     The ability to read significant texts carefully and critically, recognizing and responding to argumentative positions.

2.     The ability to write sustained, coherent, and persuasive arguments on significant issues that arise from the content at hand.

3.     The ability to write clearly, following the conventions of Standard English.


Class Requirements

There are five formal paper assignments for this course, which are described later in the syllabus. These papers comprise a total of 75% of the course requirements. Papers should be typed, double-spaced, stapled and include a cover page with a title. Papers should follow conventions for writing according to APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines and include in-text citations and a references section. One letter grade will be deducted for each class period that a paper is late. Due dates are outlined below.


The remaining 25% of the course requirements are broken down as such: writing work, including thesis and outline assignments and paper drafts, is worth a total of 10% of the final grade (please note that in order to get credit for writing work you must come to class with a draft); exercises, which are either completed in or outside of class, are worth a total of 5% of the final grade, and class participation, including preparation of readings and class work, participation in student-instructor meetings, and library assessment, is worth 10% of the final grade.


Notes on Plagiarism and Appropriate Citations

Plagiarism is an unacknowledged borrowing of words and ideas. Use citations when directly quoting or paraphrasing from a source other than your own head.

Direct Quotes  When making a direct quote (using someone else’s words)use quotation marks around the quote, and cite the author, year of publication and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence after the quotation marks, but before the period.

                        Example:  “One of the world’s most lasting images of this failed uprising was the heroic gesture of Wang Weilin, a 19-year-old                                     Chinese student, who stood in front of a column of tanks, delaying for six minutes their arrival into the square” (Bradshaw and Wallace                         1996:1).

            Paraphrases  When paraphrasing (rewording someone else’s idea) cite the author and year of publication in parentheses at the end of the              sentence before the period.

                        Example: One of the remarkable images of the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 was that of the young man who stood alone in                                                 front of a line of army tanks and temporarily blocked their entry into the square (Bradshaw and Wallace 1996).


Other examples of plagiarism: 

            1) Following a source article sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph is plagiarism, even though none of the sentences are exactly like those in the source article or even in the same order. This would be plagiarizing the author’s reasoning style.

            2) Metaphors, which are used either to make an idea clearer or to give the reader an analogy that touches the senses or emotions better than a plain description of the object or process, are a part of the author’s creative style and must also be cited.

            3) Public domain information is any idea or solution about which people in the field accept as general knowledge. However, if an author’s creative idea or solution to a problem is used, the idea or solution must be clearly attributed to the author. If you do not know what is accepted as public domain in a particular field, you should ask a professor in that field.


            (Adapted from Jeff Liles’ “Plagiarism and Style Guide Understanding Form”)


List the bibliographical information of any publications cited in a “References” section at the end of your essay.

Course requirements and important dates:

Formal Papers

Paper #1                        10%                        3/4

Paper #2                        15%                        4/5

Paper #3                        15%                        4/22

Paper #4                        15%                        5/6

Paper #5                        20%                        5/10

Writing Work                              10%                        see weekly schedule

Exercises                                     5%                        see weekly schedule

Class Participation                     10%                       


Weekly Schedule and Reading Assignments

Reading assignments are meant to reinforce and compliment the class lectures, images, and discussions and in no way replace them. Consequently, your regular attendance is essential for understanding class topics.  I will take attendance before class, for my own records, but there isn’t an attendance policy per se; at the end of the course I’ll take attendance into consideration when determining border-line grades. Also, writing work, exercises, and participation components of the course require that students be present for class. Keep current with the reading assignments! Doing so makes class more interesting and makes it easier to write papers on class topics. Readings outside the textbook will be available on mycourses. ** Students are responsible for any changes in the syllabus that are announced in class.


Week 1            1/25                        Course Introduction/Research Methods

                                                Film: “A Man Called Bee”


Week 2            1/28                        Research Methods

                                                Read: Sterk, Anderson

 2/1                  Exercise: Critical reading

Read: Benedict; W&L p. 108-123

Film: “Margaret Mead and Samoa”


Week 3            2/4                        Mead, Freeman and Samoa                                               

                                                Read: Mead; Freeman

2/8                        Library demonstration

                        Read: W&L p. 38-69


Week 4            2/11                        Mead, Freeman and Samoa, con’t                       

                                                Read: Orans; W&L p. 96-107

Exercise: Thesis statements

                        2/15                        Paper #1 thesis and outline due- writing work

                                                Read: W&L p. 146-149; 170-183

                        Exercise: Writing paragraphs


Week 5            2/18                        Globalization and Female Circumcision

Film: “Female Circumcision: Human Rites”

                                                Read: Schweder

                        2/22                        Paper #1 draft due- writing work

                                                Read: Hacker p. 18-23; 204-218

                                                Exercise: Peer reviews


Week 6            2/25                        Globalization and Female Circumcision

                                                Read: Lavie, Oboler                       

                        3/1                        Exercise: Avoiding plagiarism

                                                Read: Hacker p. 290-328


Week 7            3/4                        Piltdown

                                                Film: “Piltdown”

                                                Paper #1 final due

                        3/8                   Read: Feder; Gould


Week 8            3/11                        Paper #2 thesis and outline due- writing work

Read: W&L p. 192

Exercise: Reverse outlining (bring copy of Mead paper)

                        3/15                        Who Dunnit exercise at library


Week 9            3/18-22            Spring Break-- have fun!!


Week 10          3/25                        Who Owns the Past?

Read: Public Law 104 (NAGPRA); Preston

3/29                        Paper #2 draft due- writing work           

Read: Hacker p. 408-438

Exercise: Avoiding plagiarism                       


Week 11          4/1                        Who Owns the Past? (con’t)

Read: Thomas, Deloria

4/5                        Paper #2 final due

                                                Film: “Who Owns the Past?”


Week 12         4/8                        Class at library

                        4/12                 Film: “Chariots of the Gods”


Week 13          4/15                        Paper #3 draft due- writing work

                        Read: W&L p. 450-475

Exercise: Editing and proofreading

4/19                        Prehistoric Aliens

                                                Read: Van Daniken, Feder


Week 14         4/22-26            Science and Anthropology

                                                Read: Feder, Kenyon

4/22                        Paper #3 final due


Week 15         4/29                        Paper #4 draft due- writing work

                        5/3                        Meetings


Week 16          5/6                        Paper #4 final due- writing work

                                                (bring copy of paper #4)


Week 17          5/10                        Library Assessment, 12 pm (takes a/b 40 min)                       

Paper #5 due                                               



Writing Assignments

Paper # 1: Explain your understanding of the ethnographic work done in Samoa by Mead, Freeman and others. Your paper should reflect your understanding of the assigned readings and films. You must make a specific argument that you then support with evidence that comes from the assigned class material. You must also select one outside article that supports your view (you will have an opportunity to search for an article during the first library tutorial). Your paper should be about 3 pages in length.


Paper #2: Explain your view concerning whether or not female circumcision and other forms of genital alteration should be banned.  Include in your introduction or conclusion why this issue is so difficult for anthropologists to grapple with and whether or not your own views on the issue have changed as a result of your study. You must select one outside article that supports your view. Your paper should be about 3 pages in length.


Paper #3: Explain your view concerning whether Native American remains should be scientifically studied. Is the scientific perspective on the past more important than the Native American perspective? You should not simply repeat someone else’s claims but must make a specific argument that you then support with evidence that comes from material assigned for class. You must include two additional sources besides those covered in class (you will have an opportunity to search for an article during the second library tutorial). Your paper should be 4 pages in length.


Paper #4: Discuss the issue of science in anthropology from the perspective of three topics covered in class. Each of these topics should support your thesis, although they will do so in different ways. Again, you should use information gathered through class assignments, including readings and films. You must also include three outside sources. Your paper should be 5-6 pages in length. Please turn in both a paper copy and an electronic copy via email attachment. Your file should be saved in the following format: your last name.doc (ex. Krumrine.docx). I will forward the electronic copies to the INTD committee for assessment purposes.


Paper #5: This assignment is a re-write of paper #4. Please turn in both a paper copy and an electronic copy via email attachment (see above).


Writing Work

These assignments are designed to help guide you through the writing process, including developing, writing and revising your papers. You will have help from me as well as from each other through peer reviewing. ** Note: to get full credit for writing work you must BOTH provide a draft and be present to peer review

1)    Thesis and Outline Assignment: For your first two papers, you must first prepare a thesis and outline of your analysis. Your thesis must be an interpretation or argument that you develop and support throughout your paper. In addition to your thesis, which should be one to two sentences in length, you must list three specific arguments which support your thesis. You must include full citations for each, including author and page numbers. It must be prepared and typed so that we can work on it during class.

2)    Paper Drafts: We will work in class on a first draft of each of your four    

      papers. You must bring to class a typed, completed first draft on which    

      you will work and turn in. You will benefit most from this if your draft is

      similar to what you would normally turn in as a completed assignment.