Sociology and Anthropology Courses

Fall 2023

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Anthropology: Investigating Humanity

SOAN 101 - Brown, Christopher

This course is an introduction to the four subfields of anthropology: physical/biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology. The course explores how we humans understand each other, what we do, and how we got to where we are today. Topics include human evolution; cultural remains in prehistorical and historical contexts; connections among language and social categories like gender, class, race, and region; and social organization in past and present contexts. Concepts such as culture, cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, and global and local inequalities are discussed.

Introduction to Sociology: Investigating Society

SOAN 102 - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

An introduction to the field of sociology including both micro and macro perspectives, this course exposes students to key topical areas in the discipline and includes readings that show the range of research methodologies in the field today. The sociological meaning of concepts such as social group, nation, state, class, race, and gender, among others, are discussed. Topics may include social inequalities, group processes, collective action, social networks, and the relationship between social organization and the environment.

FS: First-Year Seminar: The Sociology of Conflict

SOAN 180A - Cataldi, John

This interactive class provides an introduction to social conflict with an emphasis on striving for objectivity while exploring the perspectives of various groups.  Concepts of group culture, collective identity, collective memory, and commemoration are closely interrelated with each other and are used as investigative tools when studying social conflict.  We are surrounded by diverse elements in our community and beyond, each with unique and sometimes opposing sentiments.  We will explore groups that have been on the forefront of controversy such as the police, the military and various ideological groups, with clinical rather than normative intent so as to expand our understanding of the world around us. 

FS: First-Year Seminar in Anthropology: The Story of the Hijab in the West

SOAN 181B -

Why does a piece of clothing on the heads of Muslim women create so many controversies in the U.S. and Europe? This class explores the racialization of Muslim women through the politics of secularism, gender, and laws. Within a growing Islamophobia in the West, Muslim women have increasingly become a systematic target for racist incidents. We will consider the intersection of gender, religion, and race through a number of cases, including the “headscarf affair” suspending Muslim girls from school in France, the attacks on Sikh men wearing turbans in post-9/11 U.S., and the banning of face-covering clothing worn in public in Belgium. Engaging with a comparative and transnational approach to veil-wearing in the Middle East, we will examine ethnographic, literary, and audiovisual works, including those written and made by Muslim women. The learning goal of this seminar is to guide students to critically analyze the gendered racialization of Muslim women in the West through an anthropological study of Islam and gender.

Qualitative Methods

SOAN 208 - Perez, Marcos E.

Qualitative research methods are widely used to provide rich and detailed understandings of people's experiences, interactions, narratives, and practices within wider sociopolitical and economic contexts. Typical methods include oral histories, interviews, participant observation, and analysis of visual and textual culture. Students will engage in research aligned with community interests. Stages of the project will include topic identification, research design, ethical and legal considerations, choosing an appropriate methodology, data collection, analysis and write-up, and presentation and critique.

Race: Anthropological Perspectives

SOAN 229 - Bell, Alison K.

"The fictions of race are a lived reality," explains theorist Katherine McKittrick. Evolutionary, historical, and cross-cultural perspectives show that races - as discrete, internally homogenous biological subdivisions of humanity - don't exist, but persistent beliefs in the reality of race, along with socio-economic and structural forces, impact lived experiences differentially, profoundly, and often devastatingly. Thiscourse surveys dynamics of race from diverse perspectives including prehistoric and modern human variability, classic and contemporary anthropological research, and critical race theory. We draw on intellectual work within and overlapping with anthropological positions - including those of Franz Boas, W.E.B DuBois, Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Nikole Hannah-Jones - and explore ways in which the creation of race/racism happened historically "on the ground," varied cross-culturally, and persists in healthcare, law, immigration, economic opportunity, and education. We conclude with considerations of calls for justice and determination to foster joy through music, faith, and community.

Discovering W&L's Origins Using Historical Archaeology

SOAN 230 - Gaylord, Donald A.

Same as HIST 230. This course introduces students to the practice of historical archaeology using W&L's Liberty Hall campus and ongoing excavations there as a case study. With archaeological excavation and documentary research as our primary sources of data. we use the methods of these two disciplines to analyze our data using tools from the digital humanities to present our findings. Critically, we explore the range of questions and answers that these data and methods of analysis make possible. Hands-on experience with data collection and analysis is the focus of this course, with students working together in groups deciding how to interpret their findings to a public audience about the university's early history. The final project varies by term but might include a short video documentary. a museum display, or a web page.

Anthropology of Death

SOAN 235 - Bell, Alison K.

Death is of course universal - it is appointed for all once to "die" - but cultural understandings of death vary enormously. This course provides an overview of death practices from prehistory to the present. Discussion covers diverse beliefs in the afterlife, the nature of the soul, and proper dispositions of the body. Readings include archaeological studies of funerary practices in European prehistory, ethnographic accounts of belief and behavior in diverse cultures throughout the world, classic anthropological theories of how funerary ceremonies articulate with social relations, and journalistic representations of contemporary American practices - including the rise in cremation, green burials, celebratory funerals, idiosyncratic gravestones, and online memorials.

Poverty and Marginality in the Americas

SOAN 263 - Perez, Marcos E.

In recent decades, some global transformations have increased inequality and marginality in various regions of the world. Neoliberalism has generated both opportunities and challenges to human development In different countries. This course focuses on how the undermining of safety nets, the decline of models of economic growth centered on state intervention, and the internationalization of labor markets have affected societies in Latin America and the United States. Students analyze the structural causes of marginality and how the experience of poverty varies for people in both regions. We rely on anthropological and sociological studies to address key questions. How do disadvantaged individuals and families in the Americas deal with the challenges brought about by deindustrialization, violence, and environmental degradation? How do their communities struggle to sustain public life? What are the processes causing many people to migrate from one region to the other?

Exploring Social Networks

SOAN 265 - Eastwood, Jonathan R. (Jon)

This course is an introduction to network analysis. Students learn some of the major network analysis literature in sociology and related fields and develop their skills as network analysts in laboratory sessions. Social science, humanities, business, and public health applications are emphasized.

Health and Inequality: An Introduction to Medical Sociology

SOAN 278 - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

This course introduces sociological perspectives of health and illness. Students examine topics such as social organization of medicine; the social construction of illness; class, race and gender inequalities in health; and health care reform. Some of the questions we address: How is the medical profession changing? What are the pros and cons of market-driven medicine? Does class have an enduring impact on health outcomes? Is it true that we are what our friends' eat? Can unconscious racial bias affect the quality of care for people of different ethnicities? What pitfalls have affected the way evidence-based medicine has been carried out?

Special Topics in Sociology: Producing Culture from the Margins

SOAN 290C - Sutton, Alexander

How does our cultural-historical understanding of artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Ludwig von Beethoven inform how we categorize and evaluate artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kendrick Lamar? This course will examine the creation of cultural objects (music, visual art, literature, film/television), with particular attention to representations of race, class, gender, sexuality, and the various intersections of marginality in the contemporary world. Drawing from the relevant literature in sociology, philosophical aesthetics, and cultural studies, we will look at how the production of contemporary culture perpetuates and challenges social inequality. 

Theorizing Social Life: Classical Social and Cultural Theory

SOAN 370 - Eastwood, Jonathan R. (Jon)

Sociologists and anthropologists have traditionally approached their role as students of social and cultural phenomena from two different paradigmatic starting points: a so-called "Galilean" model and an "Aristotelian" model. Practitioners were thought that they could eventually arrive at covering laws as powerful as those of physics or, falling short of this ideal, arrive at significant generalizations about human phenomenon. This class explores the trajectory of this paradigmatic split among some of the founders of sociology and anthropology and how these theorists utilized their chosen paradigms to make sense of social and cultural life. We also explore the assumptions about human nature, society, and culture that informed each of these theorists approaches and the wider historical contexts influenced their thought.

Directed Individual Study: Tracing Descendants of African American Employees at W&L

SOAN 401F - Rainville, Lynn

In this independent study, students will use genealogical methods to trace a dozen families who once worked at W&L. This work will include a study of federal census data, Bureau of Vital statistics documents (such as birth, marriage, and death certificates), courthouse documents, and materials in W&L’s Special Collections. This information will be used to understand kinship connections among Black Families in Rockbridge and Lexington, c. 1800-WWII. This data will be used analyze the social networks among and between W&L and community members. As we identify descendants of these former residents we will partner with interested family members to understand their family history and legacies.

Directed Individual Study

SOAN 403 - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

A course for selected students, typically with junior or senior standing, who are preparing papers for presentation to professional meetings or for publication.

Spring 2023

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Field Methods in Archaeology

SOAN 210 - Gaylord, Donald A.

This course introduces students to archaeological field methods through hands-on experience, readings, and fieldtrips. Students study the cultural and natural processes that lead to the patterns we see in the archaeological record. Using the scientific method and current theoretical motivations in anthropological archaeology, students learn how to develop a research design and to implement it with actual field excavation. We visit several field excavation sites in order to experience, first hand, the range of archaeological field methods and research interests currently undertaken by leading archaeologists. Students use the archaeological data to test hypotheses about the sites under consideration and produce a report of their research, which may take the form of a standard archaeological report, an academic poster, or a conference-style presented paper.

Laboratory Methods in Archaeology

SOAN 211 - McCarty, Sue A. (Sue Ann)

This course introduces students to archaeological lab methods through hands-on experience, readings, and fieldtrips. Students process and catalogue archaeological finds ensuring they maintain the archaeological provenience of these materials. Using the scientific method and current theoretical motivations in anthropological archaeology, students learn how to develop and test hypotheses about the site under consideration by analyzing the artifacts they themselves have processed. We visit several archaeology labs in order to experience, first hand, the range of projects and methods currently undertaken by leading archaeologists. Students then use the archaeological data to test their hypotheses and produce a report of their research, which may take the form of a standard archaeological report, an academic poster, or a conference-style presented paper.

Belonging in College

SOAN 216 - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

All college students face the problem of becoming part of their campus community. College is a transformative, but nerve-wracking transition for most students. At many colleges, the traditional student experience involves leaving home and entering a new environment without the comfort and protection of their former social ties. On the one hand, severing old ties provides students freedom to explore new identities and perhaps even reinvent themselves. On the other hand, this state of detachment is stressful as students may compare themselves to their new peers and frequently ask themselves: "How do I measure up?", "Do I fit in?", and "Do I belong"? This seminar explores the questions of what does it mean to "belong" in college and how academic institutional structures shape inequalities in who gets to "fit in" and who "belongs". Students will also be asked to examine the additional barriers for inclusion and belonging for "nontraditional" students (e.g. first-generation and low-income students, students of color, non-heterosexual students, religious minorities, international students, students with disabilities, older students, etc.). Although "belonging" and "inclusion" are current buzzwords on American college campuses, these issues are not new and it is clear that diversification has not led directly to integration, especially as colleges try to diversify their student body.

Peoples of Central Europe Through Literature and Film

SOAN 225 - Jasiewicz, Krzysztof

This course provides basic information about the citizens of Central European nations of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Beliefs, attitudes, and value systems of the people of Central Europe are examined against the backdrop of major historical events of the 20th century. Core textbook readings are supplemented by feature films, video materials, novels, short stories, plays, and poetry. Class discussions focus on interpreting these works of art in the context of comparative historical-sociological analysis of the Polish, Czech, and Hungarian cultures and societies.

Food, Culture, and Society in Ireland

SOAN 241 - Goluboff, Sascha

This four-week course provides students with an immersive experience into Irish cuisine, culture, and society. The opening sessions focus on representations of food and drink in Irish literature and culture, and then we segue into socioeconomic issues that have impacted food practices in Ireland. These include the Great Famine, emigration, the Slow Food movement, and sustainability initiatives. Classroom sessions are supplemented with fieldtrips within Dublin, a day trip to Causey Farm, and a three-day trip to Cork and Cloughjordan Ecovillage.

Special Topics in Sociology: Introduction to Criminology: Crime Holistically Viewed as a Social Event of Interactions

SOAN 290B - Cataldi, John

This mutually engaging class introduces the fundamentals of criminology via a holistic perspective. As a social event of interactions, every crime has a unique set of causes, consequences, and participants. However, patterns emerge allowing for potential generalized themes for us to analyze, scrutinize and learn.  Crime affects all of us directly and indirectly.  It has a significant impact on those who are direct participants in the immediate social event itself such as offenders, victims, police officers, and witnesses.  Yet, crime also has a powerful but indirect effect on society as a whole. We will laterally study crime from the varied perspectives of direct and indirect participants in an attempt to derive productive holistic understandings.

Special Topics in Sociology: Social Inequality in American Cinema

SOAN 290F - Sutton, Alexander

This course will examine how entertainment media shapes the American cultural imagination by closely analyzing a curated selection of feature films. The class will work together as a kind of “research team,” decoding and contextualizing aspects of each film to develop a working theory concerning media messaging and propaganda from a sociological view. Specifically, we will interrogate how American cinema constructs and represents social inequality in a variety of contexts. Drawing from social theory, public policy, and scholarly approaches to reading culture as texts, students will observe how cinema depicts myths and realities of social inequality, how those representations have changed over time, and how critical evaluation of entertainment media affects its cultural impact and efficacy from a social, economic, and political perspective. Through informed analysis via group discussion and debate, and individual reading and writing assignments, students will develop a critical understanding of how narrative, cinematic style, cultural symbols, and critical evaluation influence public perception, policy, and aesthetic discourse related to social inequality.

Winter 2023

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Anthropology: Investigating Humanity

SOAN 101 - Brown, Christopher

This course is an introduction to the four subfields of anthropology: physical/biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology. The course explores how we humans understand each other, what we do, and how we got to where we are today. Topics include human evolution; cultural remains in prehistorical and historical contexts; connections among language and social categories like gender, class, race, and region; and social organization in past and present contexts. Concepts such as culture, cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, and global and local inequalities are discussed.

Introduction to Sociology: Investigating Society

SOAN 102 - Perez, Marcos E.

An introduction to the field of sociology including both micro and macro perspectives, this course exposes students to key topical areas in the discipline and includes readings that show the range of research methodologies in the field today. The sociological meaning of concepts such as social group, nation, state, class, race, and gender, among others, are discussed. Topics may include social inequalities, group processes, collective action, social networks, and the relationship between social organization and the environment.

FS: First-Year Seminar: The Sociology of Conflict

SOAN 180A - Cataldi, John

This interactive class provides an introduction to social conflict with an emphasis on striving for objectivity while exploring the perspectives of various groups.  Concepts of group culture, collective identity, collective memory, and commemoration are closely interrelated with each other and are used as investigative tools when studying social conflict.  We are surrounded by diverse elements in our community and beyond, each with unique and sometimes opposing sentiments.  We will explore groups that have been on the forefront of controversy such as the police, the military and various ideological groups, with clinical rather than normative intent so as to expand our understanding of the world around us. 

FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology: Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

SOAN 180C - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

Basic Statistics in the Social Sciences

SOAN 218 - Lasisi, Abibat

Introductory statistics course designed to help students become good consumers of statistics, but especially geared for students interested in sociology, archeology, and anthropology. Topics include descriptive and inferential statistics, sampling, and regression analysis. Students also get practical experience with cleaning and analyzing real world secondary data.

Data Science Tools for Social Policy

SOAN 222 - Eastwood, Jonathan R. (Jon)

Students learn about how we think about and estimate causal effects, and practice important contemporary techniques with real data, culminating in reports analyzing the effects of a policy intervention of their choice. All work will be done in R. No previous experience with R is required, but some basic previous exposure to linear regression will be helpful.

European Politics and Society

SOAN 245 - Jasiewicz, Krzysztof

Same as POL 245. A comparative analysis of European political systems and social institutions. The course covers the established democracies of western and northern Europe, the new democracies of southern and east-central Europe, and the post-Communist regimes in eastern and southeastern Europe. Mechanisms of European integration are also discussed with attention focused on institutions such as European Union, NATO, OSCE, and Council of Europe.

Neighborhoods and Inequality

SOAN 266 - Eastwood, Jonathan R. (Jon)

This course examines the ways in which residential context relates to social and economic inequalities. Drawing on empirical literature from sociology and related fields, we consider both (a) how residential contexts may shape individuals' opportunities and (b) the factors that may shape the persistence or change of concentrated advantage and disadvantage across those residential settings. Half of the course is a traditional seminar and half is a data analysis lab in which we learn tools of spatial data analysis and then apply them in individual student projects on contemporary cities.

Art & Science of Survey Research

SOAN 276 - Jasiewicz, Krzysztof

This course is designed as a group research project in questionnaire construction and survey data analysis. Students prepare a list of hypotheses, select indicators, construct a questionnaire, collect and analyze data, and write research reports. When appropriate, the course may include service-learning components (community-based research projects).

Special Topics in Sociology: What is Power?

SOAN 290D - Perez, Marcos E.

Special Topics in Sociology: (de)Constructing Disability in the U.S.

SOAN 290E - Sutton, Alexander

Special Topics in Anthropology: Anthropology of Human-Animal Relationships

SOAN 291F - McCarty, Sue A. (Sue Ann)

Special Topics in Anthropology: Collective Memory: Anthropology of Memorization

SOAN 291G - Gaylord, Donald A.

Why do some places, events, objects, symbols, or individuals become central to understandings of heritage, while others seem ignored or forgotten? When canonical, written history takes a back seat, how do people use material objects – including landscapes, monuments, and museums – to negotiate memory and history, or identity and belonging. How do debates about morality enter into this discourse? This course examines cultural, social, political, and economic processes of memorialization through case studies from regional, national, and global contexts. Additionally, this exploration of collective, if contested, memory making covers a variety of topics including heritage tourism and the ethics of remembrance.

Senior Seminar in Social Analysis

SOAN 395 - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

This course is designed as a capstone experience for majors with the sociology emphasis. Students, utilizing their knowledge of sociological theory and research methods, design and execute independent research projects, typically involving secondary analysis of survey data. Working on a subject of their choice, students learn how to present research questions and arguments, formulate research hypotheses, test hypotheses through univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses (utilizing appropriate statistical packages such as SPSS), and write research reports.

Senior Seminar in Anthropological Analysis

SOAN 396 - McCarty, Sue A. (Sue Ann)

In this course, senior SOAN majors with an emphasis in anthropology review, augment, and synthesize their understandings of anthropological theory, methods, substantive findings, and ethical issues. To do so, we share common readings on research methods and the integration of anthropological method and theory, and we sustain a term-long workshop focused on students' research projects and papers. Each student identifies a topic of interest. Consulting with peers and the instructor, each student considers analytical methods and theoretical orientations, identifies appropriate sources, and proposes a course of research and writing. Once the proposal is vetted, students pursue their research designs and circulate partial drafts for peer and instructor review. They produce a final paper and present their findings orally with visual accompaniment to the class.

Directed Individual Study: Studying African American Families in Rockbridge County

SOAN 401D - Rainville, Lynn

In this independent study, students will explore and deploy genealogical methods to establish kinship connections among Black Families in Rockbridge and Lexington, c. 1800-WWII. This research involves searching archival repositories, analyzing genealogical materials, and compiling biographical information about local residents and uncovering their occupational, economic, and social connections to Washington and Lee University over the past two centuries. This data will be used analyze the social networks among and between W&L and community members. As we identify descendants of these former residents we will partner with interested family members to understand their family history and legacies.

Directed Individual Study: Gender and Polarization

SOAN 401E - Eastwood, Jonathan R. (Jon)

A course for selected students, typically with junior or senior standing, who are preparing papers for presentation to professional meetings or for publication.

Directed Individual Study

SOAN 403 - Jasiewicz, Krzysztof

A course for selected students, typically with junior or senior standing, who are preparing papers for presentation to professional meetings or for publication.

Directed Individual Study

SOAN 403 - Bell, Alison K.

A course for selected students, typically with junior or senior standing, who are preparing papers for presentation to professional meetings or for publication.

Directed Individual Study

SOAN 403 - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

A course for selected students, typically with junior or senior standing, who are preparing papers for presentation to professional meetings or for publication.

Honors Thesis

SOAN 493 - Eastwood, Jonathan R. (Jon)

Honors Thesis.