courses > 2015 fall

Elective Courses


ANTH 231
401 | LEC | | TR 12-1:30pm | MUSE B17

This course will introduce students to a different way to watch, analyze, and understand movies. Rather than seeing movies as an art form, as mindless entertainment, or as political or cultural propaganda, we will consider movies as a form of speculative worldmaking. Using the tools and techniques that anthropology has traditionally applied to the analysis of cultures, we will be looking at how the imaginary worlds seen in the movies are constructed and how they work. Popular American movies, including Avatar, The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Zombieland, Galaxy Quest, Divergent, While You Were Sleeping, and Starman, will be used to illustrate techniques of worldmaking including categorization, taboos and rules, language, rituals, myth and narrative, power, engagement with the environment, definitions of truth and reality, and claims about the Other. Since making and being immersed in fictional virtual worlds (including games, books, television, and theme parks) is a universal human activity, understanding why and how humans create these worlds can lead to a better understanding of all human cultures.