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All Anthropology Department Course Offerings
- Undergraduate
- Graduate
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Links
- Department of Anthropology
- M.A. Program in Historical Archaeology
- Eastern Pequot Archaeological Field School (forthcoming - but see here)
- The Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research
- University of Massachusetts, Boston

 

Courses That I Teach

Below are course titles that can lead you to basic course descriptions provided further down the page or the to actual course website

Undergraduate Courses

Graduate Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Anthropology 107: Introduction to Archaeology (Course Website)
An introduction to the study of the human past through archaeology. The course is about prehistory and history. It is about the origins of culture and the global dispersal of humans. The course is about the foraging way of life and the development of agriculture and herding. It is about egalitarian societies and complex civilizations and about the domestication of plants and animals. It is about the complex "modern" world and how archaeology can enrich our understanding of it and perhaps help to change it. The course focuses on the role of material culture - cultural objects, or artifacts - in human life. It also covers the influence of environments on human adaptation and the influence of human activity on environments. The course is about gender and identity, status and rank, evolution and adaptation, religion and ritual, cognition and meaning. These are introduced through the basics of archaeological methods, models, and theories and then an outline of patterns in human history.

Anthropology 230: Archaeological Myth and Mystery
This course focuses on critically exploring the myths, mysteries, frauds, and fantasies surrounding archaeology. Topics include sunken continents, aliens, presumed early visits to the Americas, archaeoastronomy, psychic methods, and New Age religion. The goal is to examine diverse claims about the past, good and bad uses of archaeological evidence, and the persistence of popular misconceptions about archaeology and history. The course also explicitly considers the political and personal agendas often behind certain conceptions of the past.

Anthropology 334: Ancient North America (Course Website)
This course is an archaeological survey of ancient North America, from Paleoindian times over 14,000 years ago to contact with Europeans. Topics include subsistence, adaptation, mobility, migration, trade, settlement patterns, material culture, ideology, social inequality, and gender in Native North America using archaeological case studies from several regions such as the Plains, Arctic, California, Northwest Coast, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. The course outline follows this regional categorization, but lectures, assignments, and discussions center on key issues in archaeology more broadly.

Anthropology 341: Archaeological Method and Theory (Course Website)
A combined lecture and laboratory course that introduces the techniques and analytical approaches used in contemporary archaeology. We begin the course with a consideration of archaeology's history, theories, and methods over the 20th century. Following this, the course concentrates on procedures used to collect and process material remains from archaeological sites. Subsequently, our emphasis will shift to interpretive models advanced by archaeologists to understand the nature of past societies and the dynamics of long-term social change. The course emphasizes both quantitative and qualitative data while promoting an analytical perspective on interpreting the past. We also explore current theoretical and ethical debates surrounding the relationship between archaeology and its sociopolitical context.

Anthropology 425: Contemporary Issues in Anthropology (Course Website)
My version of the capstone course in the major is entitled "Producing the Past in the Present." The course focuses on critical anthropological analyses of how the past is produced in the present as history, memory, commemoration, identity, justification, and contestation. The class is not as much about questioning the ability of anthropologists and others to tell "good" and real histories as it is about emphasizing the practices -- cultural and political -- that surround the business of heritage and history. We need to understand the processes of remembering, forgetting, and even fabricating "pasts" as individuals, collectivities, academics, and nation-states make and narrate history. To achieve this, the course focuses on issues such as nationalism, heritage, repatriation, collecting, looting, and preservation through such topics as the Baghdad Museum and Iraq War, the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles, the Holocaust, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, Colonial Williamsburg, and Israeli/Palestinian archaeology.

Anthropology 485: Field Research in ArchaeologySharing Finds
The course is an archaeological field school held in the summer. My version of this course currentlyinvolves collaborating with the EasternPequot Tribal Nation to conduct intensive surveys of tribal lands to identify and document archaeological sites dating from several thousand years ago to the recent colonial period. The primary focus is on archaeological sites dating to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in an effort to study indigenous responses to colonialism. Alongside tribal interns, field school students receive training in archaeological techniques such as map-making, pedestriansurveying, shovel testing, excavation, and material culture identification. The field school offers a unique opportunity for students to work closely withNative Americans on a common goal of understanding indigenous histories on traditional lands.

Honors 290: Dirty Histories, Popular Pasts, and Present Politics (Course Website)
Histories are always dirty – lying below ground and stored in dusty archives, but also messy in interpretation and subject to manipulation behind closed doors and in public view. Whether sought by anthropologists and historians in academic pursuits, referred to by judges and presidents for justification, consumed as entertainment, summoned in religion and politics, traced as genealogy, or protected in its material and mythical form by nation-states, the past – both real or imagined – plays a critical role in the present. Using archaeology, cultural anthropology, history, Native American studies, and museum studies, this multidisciplinary Honors course considers the politics of forgetting and remembering and the struggle to control the past. We will consider themes such as historical commemoration, repatriation, nationalism, social justice, restitution, re-enactments, war and conflict, antiquities trade, looting, and legislation. No anthropology or archaeology background is required.

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Graduate Courses

Anthropology 630: Seminar in the Prehistory of the Americas (Course Website)
Anthropology 630 is a two-part course that couples the undergraduate offering of Anthropology 334 with an additional one-hour discussion period attended only by graduate students. The course is an archaeological survey of ancient North America, from Paleoindian times over 12,000 years ago to contact with Europeans. Topics include subsistence, adaptation, mobility, migration, trade, settlement patterns, material culture, ideology, social inequality, and gender in Native North America using archaeological case studies from several regions such as the Plains, Arctic, California, Northwest Coast, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. The course outline follows this regional categorization, but lectures, assignments, and discussions center on key issues in archaeology more broadly. Graduate students attend the lecture, participate in ways that enrich both undergraduate and graduate student experiences, do extra readings for seminar discussion, and actively discuss issues for the seminar hour.

Anthropology 625: Seminar in Historical Archaeology (Course Website)
This course explores the dimensions of historical archaeology in the 21st century with two objectives. First, the course provides an overview of the field of historical archaeology as the core of our graduate program and as the rapidly expanding subfield of archaeology and historical anthropology that it has become in the last 20 years. This expansion has resulted in a truly global scope of historical archaeological research, covering as it does a variety of issues with salience in the modern and contemporary world: colonialism, capitalism, disapora, urbanization, modernity, environmental change, and heritage.  Second, the course will use this intensive look at historical archaeological research to help you think about your own future contributions to the field, which will come first (most likely) in the form of your master’s thesis. Therefore, the seminar is designed to help guide you toward formulating a research idea, identifying a dataset, thinking through the necessary methods and analyses, and producing a final set of interpretations..

Anthropology 665: Graduate Seminar in Archaeology (Course Website)
The course introduces students to the history of archaeology and the diverse theoretical forms that the discipline takes today. Beginning with an overview of the origins of archaeology, the course leads students through the three schools of archaeological thought known as culture historical, processual, and post-processual archaeology. In this context, the face of contemporary archaeology is a diverse one that includes many approaches focused on social agency, evolution, ecology, critical theory, gender, narrative, and cognition. We will pay particular attention to the epistemology - the how we know what we know - behind these approaches. At the same time, the course will focus on the theoretical debates that have structured the growth and focus of archaeology. Historical archaeology is a relatively new addition to archaeology's history, and we will discuss its various roles in the broader discipline.

Anthropology 672: Culture Contact and Colonialism in the Americas
(Course Website)

This course explores the multifaceted nature of colonial encounters between Europeans and indigenous people. Using the Americas as the geographical focus, the course devotes special attention to the analytical and theoretical discourse shaping anthropological approaches to colonialism through the topics of material culture, gender, ideology, ethnicity, race, identity, labor, class, and resistance. Readings and discussions will draw on data and perspectives from ethnohistory, historical archaeology, and cultural anthropology to tackle the simultaneously global and local nature of colonialism.


Anthropology 685: Summer Field School in Historical Archaeology

Summer field survey or excavation in historical archeology for 5-6 weeks, typically offered in the Northeast. My version of this course currently involves collaborating with the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation to conduct intensive surveys of tribal lands to identify and document archaeological sites dating from several thousand years ago to the recent colonial period. The primary focus is on archaeological sites dating to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in an effort to study indigenous responses to colonialism. Alongside tribal interns, field school students receive training in archaeological techniques such as map-making, pedestrian surveying, shovel testing, excavation, and material culture identification. The field school offers a unique opportunity for students to work closely with Native Americans on a common goal of understanding indigenous histories on traditional lands.

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Department of Anthropology
University of Massachusetts, Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125-3393

Office: 617-287-6854
Fax: 617-287-6857

Stephen.Silliman@umb.edu

Last Updated January 2, 2017