Thursday, May 17, 2007

Monster Hunters etc. Class Going Well, Syllabus

I've been busy, and also distracted in the run up to finishing grad school. Hence my lack of posting. Then there has been the water running into my apartment, the internet outages, and stuff I can't even talk about.

Anyway, CSAN 291 Monster Hunters, Ufologists, and Vampire Slayers has begun and is going very well. I have about a dozen students, and we' ve gone through some of the basics of anthropology, and in particular concepts of society, subcultures, and how ideas (memes, doxa, what have you) compete and conflict in societies. This last bit is pretty important for a course on alternative methods of knowledge production. Today we also took a look at the paleontology and prehistory of some of the candidates suggested for mystery wild men (and in particular Bigfoot), including various species in the genus Homo, robust Australopithecines, and Gigantopithecus, as well as recent ideas about how humans populated the Americas (since this comes up in discussions of how Bigfoot might have walked across Beringia to the Americas).

The students are very engaged and I have more interaction and a better rapport than I have had in any other class I've taught in archaeology or anthropology.

Here's some of the basics of the syllabus.

Course Overview:
Cultural examination of the beliefs, practices, identity, and history of “alternative scientific” fields of study concerning the paranormal, UFOs, and hidden animals. These subcultures are interesting anthropologically in their own right, but also provide a mirror for understanding mainstream knowledge production, and especially the relationship between science, the media, and the public. Are they science, or could they be in the future? Why or why not? Who decides?

Required Texts:
Brown, Alan
2006 Ghost Hunters of the South. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson.

Daegling, David J.
2004 Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America’s Enduring Legend. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek

Denzler, Brenda
2001 The Lure of the Edge: Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs, and the Pursuit of UFOs. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Mclelland, Bruce
2006 Slayers and their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.

Monaghan, John and Peter Just
2000 Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, USA.

Class Schedule:





What is Anthropology?

Monaghan and Just 1 – 5


The Four Fields and the Physical Anthropology of Bigfoot

Monaghan and Just 6 – Afterword

Daegling 1 – 3


Cryptozoology Research and Researchers

Daegling 4 – 8


What is Sasquatch?


Daegling 9 – 11

McClelland 1 – 2


Memorial Day


Traditional Vampires and Vampire Seers

McClelland 3 – 7


The Rise of Vampire Slayers

McClelland 8 – 10



UFOs: Introduction

Denzler 1, 2 (not for midterm)


Ufologists and Science

Denzler 3, Appendix

Brown Introduction


Aliens and Angels


Denzler 4

Start Reading Brown


Space Religion

Denzler 5, Afterword


Parapsychology and Spiritualism

Continue Reading Brown


Modern Ghost Hunters

Finish Reading Brown



1 comment:

R. Lee said...

Sounds wonderful! Wish those were offered when I was in grad school! Denzler's book is great; the only one I've read on your list. I'd be interested to know how the students responded to the course, etc.