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ANTH 480: Senior Thesis

Class times: Tuesdays 2-4pm in Monroe 115

Office Hours: Thursdays 1:00-4:30pm and by appointment (Monroe 410)

The main objective of ANTH 480 is to prepare you- both intellectually and in terms of your
research and speaking skills- to write a senior thesis in the spring. The thesis will be an article-
length essay (approximately 10,000 words) based on literary research or, when approved, a
combination of literary and ethnographic research. The thesis is meant to be the capstone of all
your coursework in the anthropology program. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability
to carry out creative, independent research on a specific social phenomenon, question or problem
and effectively wield anthropological theory to analyze your research findings in a compelling
manner. After you graduate, your thesis will be your best example of the level of writing,
research and analysis you are capable of doing, and should serve you well as a writing sample
when you apply for jobs and/or graduate school.
This semester is all about laying out your intellectual and technical foundations so that the spring
semester can be fully devoted to the writing process itself. This process will be broken down into
the following graded components:
(1) Reviewing key anthropological theories and argumentative genres and techniques. Each
of you will present overviews of several of the assigned readings to your peers. On days
when you are not presenting, your task will be to complete the reading, formulate
questions for class, and encourage the presenter to explain their understanding of the
reading as fully as possible. Informal debates in class are STRONGLY encouraged!
(2) Short essay: what is anthropology? 1500 words (10%)
(3) 4 minute presentation: Current thoughts on thesis topic and the central problematic you
are hoping to address (7%)
(4) Draft thesis proposal: 1500 words (10%)
(5) 6 minute presentation: mini-lecture that provides an engaging overview of a key
concept likely to be of relevance to your thesis project (8%)
(6) Extended Annotated Bibliography: as your thesis topic gets firmed up throughout the
semester, you will compile an annotated bibliographya list of references you plan to
use in your thesis. An extended annotated bibliography goes beyond listing the
references. It also includes brief, general summaries of each reference, and more specific
summaries of key sections of the texts that you would like to use in more detail when
writing your thesis in the spring (10%)
(7) Thesis proposal: an outline of your project topic, how you plan to organize/structure the
thesis, and a summary of the line of reasoning/theoretical argument you intend to pursue
through your analysis (35%)

*We will meet on TUESDAYS ONLY from 2-4pm.
August 26:
Introductions. Syllabus. Review of discussion points for next class.
September 2nd:
Erikson and Murphy, Part One
Discussion points:
How would you explain anthropology to curious family members? What do you think is the
source of their skepticism or naivety? How would you explain the value of anthropology to a
prospective employer? What is the most influential reading you have done in all of your
anthropology courses, and why? (please bring notes with you to class so that youre well
prepared for discussion)

September 9:
Erikson and Murphy, Part Two
September 16:
Erikson and Murphy, Part Two (continued)
September 23:
Erikson and Murphy, Part Three
September 30:
Erikson and Murphy, Part Three (continued)
October 7:
Erikson and Murphy, Part Four
*October 14:
No Class (Fall Break!)
Submit short essay: What is anthropology, broadly speaking? How would you describe your
anthropology (that is, the specific areas or sub-disciplines where you have greatest interests, or
perhaps the philosophical leanings/arguments you find most compelling and interesting?) What
theoretical genres or positions would you say have the greatest influence over your anthropology
(or, which genres/positions will likely have the greatest influence over your thesis)? (1500
October 21:
Ingold: Key Debates in Anthropology
General Introduction + 1988 debate: Social Anthropology is a generalizing science or it is
October 28:
1989 debate: The concept of society is theoretically obsolete
*Everyone presents a 4 minute summary of what they are thinking for their thesis topic, and
gives feedback to others
November 4:
1990 debate: Human worlds are culturally constructed
*November 6
(Thursday): Individual meetings during office hours to discuss your thesis
proposal and review your draft of your annotated bibliography (due Nov. 16
November 11:
1991 debate: Language is the essence of culture
*November 16
(Sunday): Due Date for draft thesis proposal (by email): What will your
thesis be about? What is the central problematic you intend to address? What literature are you
likely to engage in your thesis? (1500-2000 words)
November 18:
Group discussion about writing and research strategies; how to structure an article-like vs
book-like thesis; content vs. structure
November 25:
*Everyone presents for 6 minutes on an anthropological/philosophical concept of your choice,
preferably one that is likely to figure into your senior thesis
December 2:
Submit annotated bibliography
Brainstorming/Troubleshooting session; Time management; What works well for you, and what
doesnt? Getting ready to write in the spring; How to make best use of your time over Winter

*Wednesday, December 10
: Thesis proposals due by 5pm (electronic submission)