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History & Society

The Course Catalog includes course descriptions of all courses offered by the Undergraduate School at Babson College. For descriptions of the courses offered in the current or upcoming semesters, please see the Course Listing.

History & Society



AMS 4672 Working in America: Labor in the US since 1892 (Advanced Lib Arts) How has blue, white, and pink collar work changed in the U.S. across the past century? This course focuses on the historical experiences of American workers, beginning with the Massachusetts mills of early industrialization and ending with the global corporations and big box chain stores of the contemporary U.S. We will study workers' unions, and also look at how workplaces have changed with the liberation movements of women, people of color, and gay and lesbian workers. We will use histories, autobiographies, films and paintings to look at the impact of industrialization and globalization, and we will conclude the semester with a unit on college students and their role in shaping the new economies of labor. Prerequisites: 3 Intermediate Liberal Arts Courses (CVA, LVA, HSS) This course is periodically offered in the Spring or Fall semesters.

4.00 credits



AMS4676-01 American Urban Studies 4 Advanced Liberal Arts Credits This course examines how cities emerge, function, and change in the North American context. Utilizing an interdisciplinary framework, this course explores concepts from history, sociology, geography, and urban planning. Substantive topics include urbanization, suburbanization and sprawl, housing and segregation, crime and policing, the production of urban space, urban politics and political economy, gentrification and restructuring, and urban social movements. Throughout the course we will use Boston as an urban laboratory to explore particular urban issues and think through ways to effectively solve urban problems. Prerequisite: Any combination of 3 intermediate liberal arts (HSS, CVA, LVA)

4.00 credits



ANT4602 ~ Hinduism and Buddhism 2 credit advanced liberal arts Hinduism and Buddhism as living religious world views and ways of life are the focus of this 2 credit advanced liberal arts elective. Hinduism and Buddhism respectively are the worlds third and fourth largest religious traditions. Both of South Asian origin and sharing many historical roots, they grew in dramatically different directions. The course will introduce the origins and trajectories of these religious movements in historical context. We will also pursue an empathetic understanding of the key beliefs and practices of both traditions in their own terms, while understanding that each tradition has within it a multitude of variations. An important component of this course will be fieldtrips to local Hindu and Buddhist temples. Among the other resources we will use to explore religious expression within these traditions are sacred texts, artifacts, music, visual arts and architecture. Prerequisites: Any combination of 3 Intermediate Liberal Arts (LVA, CVA, HSS)

2.00 credits



ANT4603: Religion Through the Lens of Food 2 Advanced Liberal Arts Credits All major world religions have some defining food related beliefs, practices, rituals, symbols, laws, specialists and/or identity markers. In this 2 credit advanced liberal arts elective, we will become literate in the key conceptual frameworks that scholars use to explore and understand culturally constructed foodways in different types of social groups. We will use these critical tools to explore the parts that specific foodways play in a range of world religions, with a particular focus on Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Prerequisite: Any combination of 3 intermediate liberal arts (LVA, CVA, HSS)

2.00 credits



ANT4604: Culture and Mental Illness 4 Advance Liberal Arts Credit This course explores both anthropological and psychiatric perspectives on mental health and mental illness, with careful attention to varied constructions of pathology and therapy across human cultures. We begin with comparative questions: are there universal standards of positive mental and emotional functioning? Are there overall commonalities in approaches to psychic and emotional disturbances? After considering the history of madness in the West, we consider early anthropological models of culture and mental illness. We next turn to ritualized therapeutic interventions in small scale indigenous societies and consider a range of case studies from around the world. We conclude with a unit on culture and mental health in the United States and the globalization of American models of the psyche. Prerequisites: 3 intermediate liberal arts (any combination of HSS, LVA, CVA)

4.00 credits



CVA2002 African American History and Foodways (HIS) 4 credit intermediate liberal arts The course covers the major periods, movements, and events that have shaped African American history and foodways. These include: the African slave trade; antebellum period; the civil war and reconstruction; World War I and the great migration; Harlem Renaissance and Garveyism; Great Depression; Spanish Civil War and World War II; Civil Rights and Black Power movements; industrialization, the growth of the prison industrial complex, and the "war on drugs." The course will also include content on African American foodways from the African slave trade to the Black Power movement. Classes discuss the assigned reading with lively student participation. Out-of-class work includes readings, online exams, attending lectures, artistic presentations, and films, as well as independent research. Prerequisites, RHT & AHS

4.00 credits



CVA2005: Anthropology of Religion 4 intermediate liberal arts Anthropology of religion is a four-credit intermediate History and Society course. From an ethnographic and qualitative perspective, we will explore religious expression around the globe, including the major Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam but also Buddhism, Hinduism, African religions, and lesser-known faiths from small-scale, non-industrialized societies. Emphasis is placed on the analytic categories for understanding religious experiences and the prospects and challenges of cross-cultural comparison. We will adopt the techniques of anthropological inquiry to consider the social forces at work within religious life, including the political, colonial, gendered, and transnational dimensions of worship. Topics of ritual, mythology, witchcraft, magic, and science will guide our exploration of belief and spirituality beyond the formal boundaries of institutional religions. Experiential assignments, including participant observation and interviews with practitioners from unfamiliar spiritual traditions, are combined with in-depth written exercises to strengthen your intercultural and rhetorical competencies. Prerequisites: RHT1000 and RHT1001 and AHS1000

4.00 credits



CVA2008 Cultural Anthropology (Intermediate Liberal Arts) Introduction to Cultural Anthropology is a four credit intermediate History and Society course. The central focus of this course is the phenomenon of culture, that remarkable accomplishment that makes humans unique among all other species. We will use the concept of culture to investigate the question of what it means to be human. A major area of focus will be upon the ways cultural meanings are generated, shared, symbolized, ritualized, contested and altered in the face of different types of challenges. We will also study the relationship of cultural meaning to different economic, kinship and political systems. Throughout the course, as we study a variety of unfamiliar societies, we will continually refer back to our own societies with the goal of looking at our own ways of doing things with a new frame of mind. This frame of mind, or anthropological perspective, searches for the internal logics and constellations of values and beliefs that underpin all societies and subcultures. Central to this course is a succession of small fieldwork projects. This course will particularly strengthen your multicultural and rhetorical competencies Prerequisites: RHT I and RHT II and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Fall

4.00 credits



CVA2009 East Asian Cultures (Intermediate Liberal Arts) Welcome to Cultures and Values 2009, an intermediate level Liberal Arts course which will introduce you to the cultures of East Asia. This course builds on the themes and techniques in the H&S and A&H Foundation courses to analyze our subject using the materials and methodology of history pursued in an interdisciplinary manner. We will focus on the cultures of East Asia, China, Japan, and Korea; with thematic examples from ancient, medieval and modern periods. East Asia is integrated due to location and the influence that China had on the cultures of Japan and Korea. We will begin our study with the major ways of thinking in ancient China-Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, with some consideration of Legalism, and Militarism. The ethical structures, ideas, concepts and vocabulary in part one will inform and be assumed in our study of Japan and Korea. We will next study the uses of Chinese Ethics in Japan and Korea, Shinto in Japan, and Shamanism in Korea. Although these three cultures have elements in common, Japan and Korea developed in unique ways and in no way should be seen as pale imitations of Chinese culture. We begin our study analyzing written (Chinese) classical texts, which became classics throughout East Asia. These are elite cultural documents, but we will also consider their impact on popular culture. The fourth section of the course will consider East Asia as a cultural unit. We will interrogate the cultural constructions of identity and meaning in these cultures and the political and social contexts in which these were found. We will consider the impact of modernization and globalization, and the change and continuity within East Asian cultures. Some attention will be given to the cultural impact from and on the West. We approach this course through readings in philosophy, religion, anthropology, art, literature, film, and music. Prerequisites: RHT and Foundation H&S and A&H This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring or Summer

4.00 credits



CVA2010 Gender Studies (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to gender studies. Designed as an intermediate course, Introduction to Gender Studies aims to identify and critically examine the interactive relationships among gender, cultural/social institutions, and individuals in contemporary American society. This implies two foci of attention. First, through readings and discussion, we will explore gender roles and resulting power inequities in contexts such as families, the music industry, conceptions of both race and sexuality, and novels. Equally important, we will analyze how the behaviors of individuals reflect, sustain and sometimes alter social conceptions of gender. In concert, these two emphases serve to underline the relationships among gender, culture, and individuals. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring, Summer or Fall

4.00 credits



CVA2011 Introduction to Western Culture (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course uses the concept of the real to explore the cultural history of Europe and the United States. We will look at how different intellectual and artistic traditions have understood or related to "reality, as well as how these ideas shaped their social and political contexts: from ancient Greece to Napoleonic France, the Industrial Revolution and World Wars to the Civil Rights era. We will read selections from Homer, Joyce, Kafka, Le Guin, and Baldwin, while short essays from philosophers and critics like Plato and Lacan will help to frame our discussions. Prerequisites: RHT1000 and RHT1001 and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring or Fall

4.00 credits



CVA2015 Political Thought (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course addresses the meaning and practice of politics through close readings of a range of political theory approaches, such as anarchist political theory, classic liberalism, civic republicanism, Black Nationalism, queer theory, settler colonial/Indigenous studies, conservatism, and feminist theory. The course will pursue such topics as the politics of confrontation, transformation and change, the role and meaning of citizenship, political community, government, inequality, political resistance, violence, and any other pertinent issues we discern from the work assigned. This is a reading intensive course, and it will also explore political themes that can be drawn out of popular culture, such as films and television shows. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring

4.00 credits



CVA2426 Immigrants, Race and the American Promise (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This intermediate course will consider the nature of American culture and identity through the experiences of the nation's immigrants and its ethnic citizens. What sacrifices have immigrants and ethnic Americans made in order to become members of the national community? How have they contributed to the development of modern America? How have they re-shaped the culture, politics, and economy of the U.S.? How have immigrants and citizens of color adapted the mythology of the American Dream to achieve success? What does the larger narrative of immigration, race, and ethnicity tell us about our nation's values and our own identity as citizens? Throughout the semester, students will use historical texts, novels, and selected works of film and music to consider these questions. Selected themes for the course include the "Melting Pot" and multiculturalism, race and ethnicity, anti-immigrant agitation and legislation, the nature of the American Dream, and the development of ethnic communities and businesses. The class will cover the time period from the late nineteenth century to the present. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS

4.00 credits



CVA2031 AFRICAN DIASPORA STUDIES 4 credit (Intermediate Liberal Arts) Using a template borrowed from Jewish studies, this course covers the historic spread, flow, and mixture of people of African descent in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Europe. Food, which is an indicator of ones social status and group identity, is the primary lens used to study African Diasporas in the course. Class discussions are based on secondary and primary sources including assigned chapters, novels, travel accounts, oral histories, archival materials, documentary films on YouTube, and blog posts. Questions covered in the assigned material for the class discussion include among others: what events, forces, and movements have shaped the development of African diasporas?; what has been the African contribution to global food systems?; what have been the cultural commonalities and differences between African diaspora societies? Prerequisites: (RHT1000 and RHT1001) and AHS1000

4.00 credits



CVA2033: Radical Politics: Thought, Action, and Culture This Intermediate Liberal Arts course examines the theory, actions, claims, and artistic and cultural representations of radical political movements historically and in our time. Radical political movements seek major transformations in the way we live together. Radical movements tend to work outside and even at odds with the mainstream political process that involves political parties and elections. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this course will look at the history and contemporary forms of radical politics, read theoretical and historical works that help us understand different ways to conceptualize a radical approach, and assess the radical potential of artistic work. In past courses, we have examined the Alt-Right and Antifa, the Movement for Black Lives, and such Indigenous political struggles as the Standing Rock/#NoDAPL movement in the US context and the #IdleNoMore movement in the Canadian context. These movements will likely be part of the course in Fall 2019, but I also adjust course materials to allow us to analyze forms of radical politics that may well be emerging just prior to and during our semester. Other possible movements we might examine include those concerning the environment/climate change, queer struggles, radical feminism, those for and against human migration, and neo-nazi formations. Students will be encouraged to work on projects that examine historical or contemporary radical movements that are in their interest, and in the forms through which they best communicate (written, visual, audio etc). The course will focus on the North American context, but student projects and our discussions do not need to be limited to that context. The materials for this class will include historical and political scholarly analyses, journalism, documentaries, film, literature, music, podcasts, public commentary, and the narratives of activists themselves. Prerequsites: AHS1000 AND RHT1000 AND RHT1001

4.00 credits