Anthropology Course Descriptions

Anthropology classes explore where we come from and where we are going; how people are both similar and different around the world and right here in our own city.

In addition to the classes offered for the core of our major, we offer a wide array of interesting upper level electives in Anthropology that you can use not only to complete a major or minor in anthropology, but just to broaden your perspectives on the world you live in.  Check out the full listing of regular anthropology courses here, and see below for some examples of exciting highlights and variable special topics classes we offer below:

Special Topics Courses Taught in Recent Semesters

The Anthropology of Death
Holistic perspective on death across human cultures. Taught by Dr. Kathryn King.

Language and Gender

Language and gender are two key elements of any given society. By studying the complex relations of the two, we can enrich our understanding of each.  The claim that men and women use language differently is simultaneously overblown and poorly understood. Is men’s language powerful and women’s weak? Is men’s language oriented to facts and women’s to relationships? Can we even differentiate gender based on language? How can we test such questions and why are they so enduring? To avoid essentialisms, the course is rigorously cross-cultural and draws from wide range of sources from popular, ethnographic, and theoretical sources. Taught by Dr. Simon Hawkins.

Caravans, Suqs, and Ports:  Archaeology of Trade in the Ancient Near East

This class looks at the development of complex international trade, global economy and multicultural interactions through archaeological sites and data from the ancient and pre-modern Middle East, Indian Ocean, eastern Mediterranean, and Red Sea areas. Taught by Dr. Krista Lewis

Islam and Gender

How does Islam view the role of women and men? What are Islamic stances on sex and sexuality? Who wears head coverings and why? What is the status of tradition and modernity in Islam? How does dating work in Saudi Arabia? The popular media provides some answers to these questions, but reality is far more complex. This course will tackle the multiple perspectives and debates about gender across the Islamic world. We will avoid simplistic stereotypes to look at the diversity of real people’s thoughts and experiences. We explore the lives of men and women and the complicated choices they must make. Islam and Gender is taught by Dr. Simon Hawkins

Dental Anthropology
Teeth are among the best sources of evidence for both identification purposes and studies of demography, biological relationships, and health in modern and ancient human communities. This course is intended to give students a detailed introduction to the methodology used in the study of teeth and jaws in physical anthropology and archaeology, and the main current issues in research. It provides an anatomical background to the dentition, as well as the histology of dental tissues, morphological variation, changes with age and development, and dental pathology.  Topics will include: dental development; tooth identification and orientation; variation in tooth size and shape; common dental pathologies and what they tell us about lifeways; dental modification; and how anthropologists from different sub-fields use teeth from living and ancient populations to inform our understanding of health, diet, migration patterns, ancestry, etc.  Students interested in paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology, forensics, and archaeology would benefit from the class. However, there will also a cultural component focused on studies of dental modification, as well as health studies of modern populations using the dentition, so I think there will be something for everyone. Dental Anthropology is taught by Dr. Jessica Scott.

Teaching the Future? The Anthropology of Education
What do we really learn in school? What is an educated person? Do schools change society or perpetuate it? Taught by Dr. Simon Hawkins

Experimental Archaeology
Have you ever wondered how people lived in the past and made the tools, homes, food and other materials they needed everyday? In this course we will use the archaeological evidence for ancient lifeways in Arkansas to construct a replica prehistoric Native American house as accurately as possible using authentic technologies, tools and materials. This will be a hands-on project in cooperation with the Toltec Mounds State Park.  We will often meet off campus at Toltec or other locations for collecting or processing raw materials Taught by Dr. Elizabeth Horton and Dr. Krista Lewis