Neuroanthropology

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Archive for May 13th, 2010

Sin & Sex: Student Posts on Compulsion Spring 2010

Posted by dlende on May 13, 2010

My freshmen students in ANTH 13181 “Compulsion” have now wrapped up their nine posts that range over sin and sex. Here’s the full list of what they wrote. Down below I talk more about the class itself.

Augustine’s Original Sin

Be Afraid, America. Be Very Afraid: The Effect of Negative Media

Stealing Pears: We All Want To, But Why?

The Pitfalls and Pratfalls of Criminals

Psychopathy: Is It In You?

Nature vs. Nurture and Sex: Why the Fight?

Inside the Mind of a Pedophile

Love Is A Process

Attraction

There are all nine. For those of you interested in how to integrate blogging into a class, please see my detailed explanation of how I approach this sort of assignment in last year’s post Culture and Compulsion: Student Posts 2009.

All right, onto ANTH 13181 “Compulsion.” This class was one of Notre Dame’s University Seminars. The university seminars are small classes, capped at 18, for freshmen to gain broad exposure to a certain field through focusing on a specific topic of interest (compulsion, in my case). These classes aim to ground freshmen in university-level writing, critical reading, and discussion. I also had two basic goals for the class, to show how anthropology uses a holistic approach to examine human behavior and to read some great works of literature as anthropologists.

The first half of the class focused on sin. We read Alan Jacobs’ Original Sin: A Cultural History, followed by Saint Augustine’s Confessions and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. During the second half we switched to sexuality. We opened with sections from Edward Shorter’s Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire and Anna Clark’s Desire: A History of European Sexuality. Then we read two novels, Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I have attached the Lende Seminar Syllabus 2010 for anyone who is interested.

I had eighteen great students, all freshmen, from a wide variety of backgrounds and intellectual interests. Besides everything they learned, I am proud that we created a space of open discussion together. Believe me, it’s not necessarily easy for 18 and 19 year olds to discuss crime and sex in a classroom setting! But we did it, and did so in an honest and intellectually sophisticated manner. Well, most of the time. Sometimes we just had to laugh at the foibles of human nature, including our own.

I really enjoyed this class, and want to finish up by thanking the students. It was a great class!

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