Fall 2017 Special Topics Courses in Sociology

Seminars in Sociology (01:920:421)

Race, Gender, Decolonial Sociology – 920:421 sec 01 

What is the relationship between decolonial theory, storytelling and everyday forms of domination? This course engages the complexities of postcolonial theory through conversations with, and engagements around, race, gender, storytelling and sociology. Over the semester, we will carry out a “slow reading” of a classic novel. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, will ground us throughout the course as we discuss some of its main themes –of colonialism and decoloniality, war, race, gender and the plantation system, capitalism and dictatorship, neoliberalism and storytelling. In parallel, we will read and consider the ways in which historical and social accounts produce foreclosures and openings for decoloniality and new futures. In the end, we will not perform an exhaustive survey of the sociological literature on race, gender and decoloniality, but will choose key “engagements” with these themes, as a way of opening up new stories and new possibilities for the future of social practice and sociology, specifically though alternate genealogies, threads of meaning, and understandings of the stories that we tell and are told of social life. – Ethel Brooks


Language, Thought, and Identity  – 920:421 sec 02

This course brings together the sociology of language and the sociology of thinking (cognitive sociology) to gain a better understanding of the way we construct and maintain social identities (“male,” “Muslim,” “adult,” “American,” “conservative,” “Asian,” “gay,” “scientist,” “vegetarian,” “good student,” “Southerner,” “feminist”), and of the role played by the act of “othering” in that process. Drawing on the concepts “markedness” and “unmarkedness,” we will examine how we come to (a) define what is “normal,” (b) set our mental defaults, and (c) establish what we can take for granted. We will draw on various theoretical traditions (symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, social phenomenology, semiotics, structural linguistics, ethnomethodology) to examine the way we construct our everyday reality. In so doing, we will be able to better understand why the terms homoerotic, working mom, and non-whites are used much more widely than their nominally equivalent counterparts heteroerotic, working dad, and non-blacks, as well as the cultural nuances underlying concepts like white-collar crime and marital rape.

Eviatar Zerubavel is Board of Governors and Distinguished Professor of Sociology. He teaches courses in cognitive sociology, sociology of time, social memory, and sociological theory. His latest three books explored the sociomental shape of the past, the social organization of silence and denial, and the social construction of genealogical relatedness. He has a forthcoming book on the sociology of taken-for-grantedness.


Sexualities, Economy, and Global Inequalities  – 920:421 sec 03

This course will be an exciting world travel to examine the cultural, economic, and gender/sexual inequalities between and beyond the Global North and South. In Part One, we will use the perspective of global flows to track how people’s bodies, objects, information, and social institutions move across borders and diffuse around the globe. Together we will forge analytic tools to critique the regimes of global domination (e.g., imperialism, colonialism, development, Westernization and Easternization), and their linkages with neoliberalist capitalism. 

In Part Two, we will focus on gender and economic inequalities in the institutions of global sex work and sex education, addressing transnational circuits of sex-negative discourses. Especially, this course will discuss how politics, economy, and religion work together to shape cultural and sexual inequalities. We will also learn from sex workers in Asia and global activists the ways to use the body, love, and agency to intervene the changing world and resist unequal structures.

* This course welcomes students with diverse backgrounds. For any questions, welcome to contact the instructor: Ying-Chao Kao (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).