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Course Descriptions

Department of Anthropology

100 Brooks Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400120
Charlottesville, VA. 22904-4120
(434) 924-7044 or 924-7033

Degree Requirements

The doctorate requires 72 credits at the graduate level, comprising at least 54 of course work (the remaining 18 may be non-topical research), and the successful completion of a dissertation. Students entering with an M.A. degree can transfer up to 24 graduate credits.

Several additional requirements reflect the department’s commitment to a critical assessment of the history of anthropology, to an integrated approach to anthropology across the sub-disciplines (socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics), and to a program flexibly shaped to the particular needs and goals of each student. The first consists of the "common courses" in the history and theory of anthropology, on anthropological monographs, and in archaeological and linguistic anthropology, which are to be taken in the first four semesters. The second fulfilled in the fourth semester, consists of a presentation before the faculty and other graduate students of a research paper that is developed from an already completed seminar paper or is directed toward dissertation research. A written version of that paper is later submitted to the student’s committee for formal assessment. For those students planning to go on to a Ph.D., the M.A. is awarded upon successful completion of both current course work and the "paper and presentation," as well as demonstrated competency in one foreign language.

Students complete courses and begin work toward a Ph.D. research proposal in the third year of study. Subsequent to their third year, students defend their research proposal, conduct their dissertation research, and complete and defend a dissertation. Competency in a second foreign language is required for the Ph.D. (statistics may be substituted where relevant).

For students taking the M.A. degree only, 24 credits of course work are required. M.A. students are asked to take only the first two "common courses." They must also demonstrate competency in one foreign language and write an M.A. thesis.

A fuller description of the graduate program and the degree requirements is available from the department office or on-line at

Course Descriptions


Department of Anthropology numbering system: An eight in the middle or end of a course number usually indicates a course in archaeology (e.g., 508, 580, 708, 789), a four indicates linguistic anthropology, and a five or six indicates an ethnographic or regional emphasis.

The Common Courses

The sequence of common courses includes 701, 702, and 703, a course in archeological anthropology (708 or 781) and a course in linguistic anthropology, 740. These courses are required of graduate students in Anthropology, and are not normally open to other students.

ANTH 701 - (3) (Y)
The History of Anthropological Theory
Explores the diverse intellectual roots of the discipline, showing how they converged into a unitary program in the late nineteenth century, and how this program was criticized and revised in the first half of this century.

ANTH 702 - (3) (Y)
Current Anthropological Theory
Analyzes the main schools of anthropological thought since World War II, a half century during which separate English, French, and American traditions have influenced each other to produce a broad and subtle international discipline.

ANTH 703 - (3) (Y)
Anthropological Monographs
Critical reading of selected monographs that use the data and methods of each of the three subdisciplines of socio-cultural, archaeological and linguistic anthropology. Explores the relationship between theory and data through readings selected from different historical periods, theoretical perspectives, and geographical areas.

ANTH 708 - (3) (Y)
Advanced Method and Theory in Archaeology
Seminar in current methodological and theoretical issues in archaeology. In some years the common course requirement in archaeological anthropology may be fulfilled by ANTH 781.

Topical Courses

These courses are available for satisfying the course work and distribution requirements.

ANTH 504 - (3) (Y)
Linguistic Field Methods
Investigates the grammatical structure of non-European languages on the basis of data collected in class from a native speaker. A different language is the focus of study each year.

ANTH 507 - (3) (Y)
History of Archaeological Thought
Considers how archaeological thinking reflects, and is related to, more general ethnological theory.

ANTH 508 - (3) (Y)
Method and Theory in Archaeology
Investigates current theory, models, and research methods in anthropological archaeology.

ANTH 509 - (3) (Y)
Historical Ethnography
Prerequisite: At least one 300-level archaeology course or instructor permission.
Combines lectures on the historical ethnography and archaeology with documentary research in primary sources on specific topics.

ANTH 520 - (3) (O)
History of Kinship Studies
Critical assessment of major theoretical approaches to the study of kinship and marriage (from the 19th century to the present) and of the central role of kinship studies in the development of anthropological theory.

ANTH 521 - (3) (E)
Reconfiguring Kinship (Studies)
Prerequisite: ANTH 520 or instructor permission.
Examines the ways in which the forms of kinship have been reconfigured in contemporary societies, and the ways in which traditional kinship studies have been reconfigured by their intersection with culture theory, feminist theory, gender studies, postmodern theory, gay and lesbian studies, and cultural studies of science and medicine.

ANTH 522 - (3) (E)
Economic Anthropology
Considers Western economic theories and their relevance to non-Western societies and the comparative analysis of different forms of production, consumption, and circulation.

ANTH 523 - (3) (IR)
Political Systems
Comparative study of decision-making processes and authority structures in selected small and larger-scale societies. Focuses on the relationship of political processes to social organization and social change.

ANTH 524 - (3) (IR)
Religious Organization
Analysis and comparison of social organization in selected communities from the perspective of systems of belief, ritual, and ceremonialism.

ANTH 525 - (3) (Y)
The Experience of Illness in American Society
Starting with the basic premise that the experience of illness/disease is at once a biological and cultural condition, the course focuses on narratives of the sick as a lens into the interrelationships between the body and society, medicine and culture. Begins with the individual experience of illness and self in one Western society and builds a theoretical framework with which we can begin to conceptualize cultural institutional responses to and definitions of disease and ill-health.

ANTH 528 - (3) (Y)
Topics in Race Theory
Prerequisite: ANTH 101, 301, or other introductory or middle-level social science or humanities course
This course examines theories and practices of race and otherness, in order to analyze and interpret constructions, deconstructions and reconstructions of race from the late 18th to the 21st centuries. The focus varies from year to year, and may include "race, ‘progress’ and the West," "gender, race and power," and "white supremacy." The consistent theme is that race is neither a biological nor a cultural category, but a method and theory of social organization, an alibi for inequality, and a strategy for resistance. Cross listed as AAS 528.

ANTH 529 - (3) (Y)
Topics in Social Anthropology
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 530 - (3) (Y)
Foundations of Symbolism
Interdisciplinary course on selected topics in the study of symbolism. Emphasizes symbolic anthropology.

ANTH 531 - (3) (E)
Feminist Theory in Anthropology
Critical overview of the historical development of the issues central to feminist theory in anthropology and their relation both to specific ethnographic problems and to other theoretical perspectives within and outside anthropology.

ANTH 532 - (3) (E)
Structural Anthropology
Examines the works of Levi-Strauss and other structuralists, an assessment of critical responses to these works, and the relationship of structuralism to other analytic modes. Emphasizes the students’ mastery of structural methods and their application to ethnographic data.

ANTH 533 - (3) (E)
Folklore and Ethnohistorical Research Methodology
Prerequisite: Graduate student standing or instructor permission.
Introduction to folklore, and to folklore and ethnohistorical research methods and analysis.

ANTH 534 - (3) (E)
Ethnographies of Illness and the Body
Prerequisite: For undergraduates: ANTH 224, ANTH 360, SOC 428; instructor permission for graduate students.
Focuses on illness because it is often at moments of intense ruptures in the normalcy of the body’s functioning that individuals/societies reflect on the taken-for-granted assumptions about self, family community, social and political institutions, the relation between normal and pathological, the roles of healers and patients, life and death. Writing about illness and the body is a form of therapeutic action. Examines such claims and writings done by those facing bodily distress.

ANTH 535 - (3) (E)
Folk and Popular Health Systems
Surveys various medical beliefs and practices, considering the traditional health systems of several American groups, and examining in detail the input into local traditional health systems from various sources.

ANTH 536 - (3) (O)
Topics in Folklore
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 537 - (3) (O)
Psychological Anthropology
Surveys the epistemology and methodology of personality theory as it relates to the study of other cultures.

ANTH 539 - (3) (SI)
Topics in Symbolic Anthropology
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 542 - (3) (IR)
Twentieth-Century Linguistics
Introduces the basic concepts of linguistics and their 20th century development in Europe and the United States. Focuses on American schools (Bloomfieldian and Chomskyan), and their intellectual roots and relationship to the work of de Saussure and the Prague School.

ANTH 543 - (3) (IR)
African Language Structures
Prerequisite: One course in linguistics, or instructor permission.
Introduces the major phonological and grammatical features of the languages of sub-Saharan Africa, with attention to issues in language classification, the use of linguistic evidence for prehistoric reconstruction, and sociolinguistic issues of relevance to Africa.

ANTH 544 - (3) (E)
An overview of morphological theory within the generative paradigm. Covers notions of the morpheme, theories of the phonology-syntax interface (e.g., lexical phonology, prosodic morphology, optimality theory), and approaches to issues arising at the morphology-syntax interface (e.g., inflection, agreement, incorporation, compounding).

ANTH 545 - (3) (IR)
African Languages and Folklore
Analyzes the expressive use of language in Africa with emphasis on such traditional genres as folktales, epics, proverbs, riddles, etc.

ANTH 547 - (3) (Y)
Language and Identity
Explores the view that language is central in the construction, negotiation, and expression of social identities by juxtaposing and critically appraising social, theoretic, and linguistic treatments of identity.

ANTH 549 - (Credit to be arranged) (IR)
Topics in Theoretical Linguistics and Linguistic Anthropology
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 551 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of North America
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 552 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Latin America
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 553 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Europe
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 554 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Africa
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 555 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of the Middle East
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 556 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of South Asia
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 557 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of East Asia
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 558 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Southeast Asia
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 559 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Melanesia
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 560 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Australia
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 561 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology of Oceania
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 565 - (3) (Y)
Creole Narratives
Prerequisite: ANTH 357 strongly recommended.
Topics include 18th, 19th, and 20th century Caribbean intellectual life; Imperialism; Island nationalism; slavery; colonized values; race; class; and religion.

ANTH 566 - (3) (IR)
Conquest of the Americas
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 569 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Ethnology
Explores power and personhood specifically related to the Americas. Topics include cultural frontiers; cultural contact; society against the state; shamanism and colonialism; violence; and resistance.

ANTH 571 - (3) (IR)
The Interpretation of Ritual
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Overview of anthropology’s approach to ritual during a century of diverse speculation on the nature and origins of religions, with discussion of such figures as James Frazer, A.M. Hocart, Claude Levi-Strauss, Max Gluckman, and Victor Turner. Focuses on topics announced prior to each semester relating those issues to the whole tradition of interpretation of ritual in anthropology. Topics have included the nature of sacrifice, the expression of hierarchy in ritual, and the compatibility of historical approaches with ritual analysis.

ANTH 572 - (3) (Y)
Ritual Experience and Healing
Studies the ritual of different cultures, using not only anthropological terms of analysis but also examining the viewpoint of the cultures themselves. Examines changing attitudes in the study of ritual, along with the problem of the wide variability of religious expression. Explores new directions in the anthropology of experience in the light of recent work healing and spirit possession.

ANTH 575 - (3) (Y)
Buddhism, Politics and Power
Discusses the political culture of Buddhist societies of South and Southeast Asia.

ANTH 577 - (3) (IR)
Critiques of Symbolism
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Studies selected topics in the theories and heuristic bases of cultural meaning or signification, including but not limited to semiotic, psychological, structural or "formal," pragmatic, and religious or "spiritual" approaches.

ANTH 580 - (Credit to be arranged) (SI)
Archaeology Laboratory
Field and laboratory training in the collection, processing, and analysis of archaeological material. Because subject matter varies from semester to semester, course may be repeated.

ANTH 581 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of the Eastern United States
Studies the prehistory of the eastern woodlands region, emphasizing cultural development and change. Discussions of archaeological field techniques and methods, and examination of sites in the vicinity of the University.

ANTH 582 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of the Southwestern United States
Studies the prehistory of the American southwest, emphasizing cultural development, field techniques, and particular sites.

ANTH 583 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
Reviews and analyzes archaeological data used in the reconstruction of ancient Near Eastern societies.

ANTH 584 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of Complex Societies
Examines archaeological approaches to the study of complex societies using case studies from both the Old and New Worlds.

ANTH 585 - (3) (SI)
Archaeological Approaches to Economy and Exchange
A review of archaeological approaches to systems of production, exchange, and consumption. Discusses data from both the Old and New Worlds.

ANTH 586 - (3) (SI)
Ceramics, Style and Society
Critical review of the theoretical and methodological issues involved in the archaeological study of ceramics. Includes ceramic production and exchange, and the uses of ceramics in the study of social interactions.

ANTH 587 - (3) (SI)
Laboratory training in techniques and methods used in analyzing animal bone recovered from archaeological sites. Includes field collection, data analysis, and the use of zooarchaeological material in reconstructing economic and social systems.

ANTH 588 - (3) (SI)
Analytical Methods in Archaeology
Prerequisite: Introductory statistics.
Examines the quantitative analytical techniques used in archaeology. Includes seriation, regression analysis, measures of diversity, and classification.

ANTH 589 - (3) (Y)
Selected Topics in Archaeology
Seminar topics announced prior to semester.

ANTH 590 - (3) (E)
Issues in Archaeological Analysis
Prerequisite: ANTH 588 or a basic statistics course.
Archaeological databases often violate many of the assumptions made in application of parametric statistics. Reviews the unique characteristics of those databases and explores alternative analytical methods. Emphasizes case studies.

ANTH 591 - (3) (IR)
Gender in Archaeology
Explores the range of case studies and theoretical literature associated with the emergence of gender as a framework for research in archaeology.

ANTH 592 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of Colonial Expansions
Exploration of the archaeology of frontiers, expansions and colonization, focusing on European expansion into Africa and the Americas while using other archaeologically-known examples (e.g. Roman, Bantu) as comparative studies.

ANTH 593 - (3) (SI)
Archaeology of Symbolism
Examines the ways in which archaeologists have studied symbolism in ancient societies. Some key topics include the analyses of cultural concepts of space and time, symbolism of material culture, and the construction of social identity.

ANTH 704 - (3) (Y)
Ethnographic Research Design and Methods
Prerequisite: Second year graduate in anthropology or instructor permission.
Seminar on ethnographic methods and research design in the qualitative tradition. Surveys the literature on ethnographic methods and explores relations among theory, research design, and appropriate methodologies. Students participate in methodological exercises and design a summer pilot research project.

ANTH 705 - (3) (Y)
Ethnographic Data Analysis and Writing
Prerequisite: ANTH 704 or instructor permission.
A seminar and writing workshop exploring methods of qualitative data analysis, styles of ethnographic description, and problems of research design. Students apply these techniques to the results of field research.

ANTH 706 - (3) (Y)
Workshop in Project Design
Prerequisite: ANTH 705 or instructor permission.
A workshop for graduates preparing dissertation proposals and writing grant applications. Each student prepares several drafts of a proposal, revising it at each stage in response to the criticisms of classmates and the instructor.

ANTH 711 - (3) (Y)
Paper and Presentation
Available for graduate students in their fourth semester, as they prepare to fulfill their paper and presentation requirement.

ANTH 715 - (3) (E)
Boasian Anthropology
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Studies the works of Franz Boas and his students (Kroeber, Lowie, Sapir, Benedict, Mead, Radin, Whorf) in historical perspective; considers their relevance to contemporary culture theory.

ANTH 716 - (3) (IR)
Culture Theory in American Anthropology
A critical assessment of the development of culture theory in American anthropology over the last half of the 20th century.

ANTH 717 - (3) (Y)
Visual Anthropology
The study of visual means of representation in Anthropology. Topics include ethnographic film and the documentary tradition of still photography.

ANTH 719 - (3) (Y)
Marriage, Mortality, Fertility
Explores the ways that culturally formed systems of values and family organization affect population processes in a variety of cultures. Readings are drawn from comparative anthropology and historical demography. Cross-listed as ANTH 329.

ANTH 720 - (3) (Y)
Marriage, Gender, Political Economy
Cross-cultural comparison of marriage and domestic groups, analyzed as a point of intersection between cultural conceptions of gender and a larger political economy.

ANTH 725 - (3) (Y)
Anthropology of the Third World
Analyzes the situation of peoples in the Third World in the circumstances of the contemporary world economy.

ANTH 727 - (3) (O)
Political Anthropology
Surveys major theoretical approaches in political anthropology including evolutionism, structural functionalism, transactionalism, and ideological approaches.

ANTH 729 - (3) (SI)
Nationalism and the Politics of Culture
Analyzes the ways in which a spirit of national or ethic solidarity is mobilized and utilized.

ANTH 732 - (3) (SI)
American Folklore
Topics include problems of definition, origin, collection, and analysis of the main genres of folklore in America, both narratives and songs. Cross-listed as ENAM 885.

ANTH 733 - (3) (E)
Ethnohistory: Research and Methods
Introduces ethnohistory, considering various sources and methods for conducting ethnohistorical research, and requiring a practical application of these to a historical case study in Albemarle County. Discusses concepts of group identity and culture, or "ethnos," and the nexus between history and anthropology.

ANTH 735 - (3) (O)
Life History and Oral History
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Topics include the politics of cultural representation in history, anthropology and fine arts museums; and the museum as a bureaucratic organization, educational institution, and nonprofit corporation.

ANTH 736 - (3) (O)
The Museum in Modern Culture
An in-depth study of the life history and its use as a sociocultural document, and of oral history methodology. Students read and critique various works, both historical and contemporary, that use oral history or present what various scholars have termed personal narrative, personal experience story, life story, life history, conversational narrative, or negotiated biography. Practical experience is gained in conducting interviews and writing life histories.

ANTH 737 - (3) (Y)
Power and the Body
Study of the cultural representations and interpretations of the body in society.

ANTH 740 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Reviews the many ways in which language is central to the theoretical issues and research of anthropology.

ANTH 741 - (3) (SI)
Topics in Sociolinguistics
Analyzes particular aspects of the social use of language. Topics vary from year to year.

ANTH 745 - (3) (O)
Native American Languages
Surveys the classification and typological characteristics of Native American languages and the history of their study, with intensive work on one language by each student. Some linguistics background is helpful.

ANTH 751 - (3) (E)
Native American Women
Prerequisite: Background in anthropology.
Explores the lives of Native American women through reading and discussing biographies, autobiographies, ethnographies, and articles addressing specific questions of the roles and status of women in Native American societies before and after contact with Europeans.

ANTH 753 - (3) (Y)
Anthropology of Eastern Europe
Prerequisite: one course in anthropology or permission of the instructor.
This course explores Eastern European societies through an examination of the practices of everyday social life. Topics include the changing cultural meanings of work and consumption, the nature of property rights and relations, family and gender, ethnicity and nationalism, religion and ritual.

ANTH 756 - (3) (O)
Critiques of Representation
Examines post-modern critiques of traditional modes of representation in anthropology, particularly by symbolic anthropologists, and critically assesses their impact on the conduct of ethnographic research and on modes of ethnographic writing.

ANTH 761 - (3) (SI)
Hindu World-view
Explores the indigenous philosophies of Hindu South Asia, as revealed in ritual, myth and text.

ANTH 763 - (3) (Y)
Social Structure of China
Analyzes various features of traditional Chinese social organization as it existed in the late imperial period. Includes the late imperial state; Chinese family and marriage; lineages; ancestor worship; popular religion; village social structure; regional systems; and rebellion.

ANTH 781 - (3) (E)
Archaeology I
Analyzes the transformation of societies based on a mobile, hunting-gathering adaptation to an agricultural economy with permanent villages and emerging political complexity. Models of the origin of agriculture and sedentism are reviewed and evaluated.

ANTH 782 - (3) (E)
Archaeology II
Examines the development of social ranking, operation of complex societies, and formation of the state. Case-studies from Old and New Worlds provide basis for evaluating classic and recent constructs proposed by anthropologists for the organization and collapse of chiefly society, theories on state formation, urbanism, and early empires.

ANTH 783 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in North American Archaeology
Discusses current topics in the evolution of prehistoric cultures in North America. Emphasizes patterns in the development of organization, exchange, and subsistence.

ANTH 788 - (3) (Y)
African Archaeology
Surveys transformations in Africa from four million years ago to the present, known chiefly through archeology, and focusing on Stone and Iron Age societies in the last 150,000 years.

ANTH 789 - (3) (SI)
Current Issues in Archaeology
Advanced seminar dealing with issues of current interest in archaeology. Topics are announced prior to each semester.

ANTH 790 - (3) (E)
Anthropology and Colonialism
Addresses three broad issues: how colonial encounters shaped anthropology; how they continue to influence the discipline; and how an awareness of them should recast current fieldwork and theory. Draws on and critiques the burgeoning literature in post-colonial theory as it concerns the agenda of anthropology.

Independent Study and Research

ANTH 841 - (3) (SI)
Seminar in the Teaching of Anthropology
Available for graduate students who are currently engaged as teaching assistants, this seminar aims to foster the effective design and conduct of classes, particularly sections.

ANTH 897 - (3-12) (SI)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
For master’s research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.

ANTH 898 - (3-12) (SI)
Non-Topical Research
For master’s thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

ANTH 901, 902 - (Credit to be arranged) (SI)
Directed Readings

ANTH 905, 906 - (Credit to be arranged) (SI)
Research Practicum

ANTH 997 - (3-12) (SI)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

ANTH 999 - (3-12) (SI)
Non-Topical Research
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

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