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No Laughing Matter! (Honors)

With the goal of deepening the exploration of the question of what makes a "good society," begun in Pacific Seminar I, this course examines links between language and culture from an anthropological perspective, with special attention to cross-cultural analysis of humor.  Students will learn basic tools of linguistic anthropology as we examine the multiple ways in which language is interconnected with culture, thought, action, power, and identity.  As we continue to explore the themes of Pacific Seminar I, a core component of this course is the use of cross-cultural comparison to make beliefs and values of people from other cultural groups, which might initially seem strange, more familiar, and to make those of one's own society, which might initially seem familiar, more strange-in short, to provide alternative ways of looking at the world.  The class culminates in a research project that analyzes real-life instances of humorous communication, providing an opportunity for students to apply what they've learned to an analysis of their own society, deepening their social awareness and illuminating forms of political engagement that can be unintentional and unnoticed in their day-to-day lives.