Bilinda Straight; Moore Hall 1001; Tel: 387-0409                              


Web Page:

Office Hours: Mon/Wed 1-2 PM and by appointment


ANTH 6040: Integrating Anthropology—From Human to Post-Human


This course is an introduction to your graduate experience here at WMU meant to offer you a thematically integrated perspective of anthropology’s four fields. This year’s theme, From Human to Post-Human, demands a critically reflexive reading of anthropology’s approach to its own subject/object—the human—and the ways technology has challenged understandings of being human. We will read about and consider what anthropology and other disciplines have meant by ‘personhood’. Then we will read scholarship that pushes the boundaries of human experience and definitions of the human. Active participation and challenging of ideas will be expected in both in-person and electronic formats. Additionally, students will be challenged to explore connections between course readings and their thesis projects. A draft MA thesis proposal will be the course’s end product.


Required Books


Į Lynn M. Morgan. 2009. Icons of Life: A Cultural History of Human Embryos. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Į Catherine Waldby. 2000. The Visible Human Project: Informatic Bodies and Posthuman Medicine. London and New York: Routledge.


Selected Articles—On e-reserve (password ‘integrating’) and through JSTOR, etc.

Grading (See Grading Key for complete instructions)


            Attendance/Participation        15%

            Discussion Board                    20%

            Annotated Bibliography         30%

            MA Thesis Proposal Draft    35%


Attendance/Participation (15% of grade)


In a class of this kind and size, your presence and participation are essential to the quality of the experience for others as well as yourself. Your attendance grade will be based on the number of days you are absent, calculated as points missed on a one-hundred percent scale. Participation will weigh in here but no one will be penalized for shyness.


Electronic Discussion Board (20% of grade)


Each week, you will write a 100 word abstract on each reading, which you will post to the elearning Discussion Board no later than 8 AM Monday morning (you can post any time up until then, including the weekend, the middle of the night, etc. Then, between Monday at 8AM and Tuesday at NOON, you will post a comment that engages with at least one fellow student’s abstracts. Your abstracts should summarize main points and raise at least one question for consideration.


Annotated Bibliography (30% of grade):


This will be an annotated bibliography of sources you feel are pertinent to your own interests as a scholar. Write a 250 word abstract for each of 10 sources. Preface the annotated bib with a summary statement of why these sources are useful to the project you are contemplating. Include full bibliographic information for each of these sources. NOTE: Course readings do not count towards the 10 sources for this assignment unless you did not do/are not doing an abstract for them as part of your required weekly abstracts. Web sites are not acceptable.


MA Thesis Proposal Draft (35% of grade): 


So, you want a Masters degree. You will have to write a thesis proposal as one of the preliminary steps. We will be talking about these proposals throughout the semester, including some ideas concerning length and form. Do note for now something about citing references: When you cite, quote, or paraphrase in text, put an in-text citation in parentheses (author’s last name, date, page number if a direct quote).  It looks like this:  (Straight 1997) or (Straight 1997: 37). The bibliography can take any variation of Chicago Style but must be consistent throughout. Look at articles in American Anthropologist or other anthropology journals for samples.

Bilinda Straight’s

Grading Key


All letter grades are converted into a quantitative grade (see key below).  All quantitative semester grades are multiplied by the percentage of the spread they represent.  Thus, if attendance is worth 20% of the grade, it would be calculated as follows:  If you were absent 3 times out of 30 total class days, 3 out of 30 is 10 percent absence, or 90% presence. So you have a 90 on attendance, multiplied by 20% of the spread, gives you 18. All grades thus calculated are added together to equal the total percentage out of one hundred.  Your semester grade is then calculated as per the key below.


                                    Grade Scale for Final Grades


97-100                 A+


94-96                   A


87-93                   BA


84-86                   B


77-83                   CB


74-76                   C


67-73                   DC


60-66                   D


below 60              E


Reading Schedule


Week 1 (1/12/10) Introduction


Week 2 (1/19): Theorizing Human Experience; Experience Through the Body


Rosemary Joyce. 2005. The Archaeology of the Body. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 139-158. Can be downloaded from WMU Libraries. Under search, click ‘Journals’. Type in Annual Review of Anthropology. Locate the volume and article for full pdf download in JSTOR.


Mauss, Marcel. 2007 [c. 1928-1933]. Technology, Techniques of the Body. Pp. 24-66. I will give you all the book to pass around for photocopying or shared reading. I do not expect you to read the whole article but read at least the first 10 pages and skim the rest.


Straight, Bilinda. 2009. Sensing Divinity, Death, and Resurrection. Theorizing Experience Through Miracles. Pp. 325-337 In David Howes (ed.) The Sixth Sense Reader. New York: Berg. Available in e-reserves (password is ‘integrating’)


Recommended: Straight, Bilinda. Conclusion and Appendix 1 in Miracles and Extraordinary Experience in Northern Kenya. 2007. I will also give you a copy of this to pass around.

Week 3 (1/26) Experience Through the Body, Experience Through Things


Howes, David. The Material body of the Commodity: Sensing Marx. In e-reserves.


Stallybrass, Peter. Marx’s Coat. In e-reserves.


Pinch, Adela. Stealing Happiness. In e-reserves.


Recommended: Marx, Karl. 1977 [1837-1844] “On James Mill,” Pp. 114-123 In McLellan, ed. Karl Marx: Selected Writings. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. I will pass out a copy for you to copy/share.


Week 4 (2/2) Sensing, Technologies of the Senses


Macdougall, Body in Cinema. In e-reserves.


Stoller, Paul. Cinema of Cruelty. In e-reserves.

Week 5 (2/9) Technologies of Sensing, Viewing, and Othering


Pognant, Rosaln. The Making of Professional “Savages”: From P.T. Barnum (1883) to the Sunday Times (1998). In e-reserves


Fay, Jennifer. 2008. Seeing/Loving Animals: Andre Bazin’s Posthumanism. Journal of Visual Culture 7(1): 41-64. Available for download. Go to WMU Libraries, click on ‘journals’ in search, type in journal title, get full text.


Week 6 (2/16) Pushing the Envelope: Post-Human Technologies


Van de Vall, Renee. 2009. A Penny For Your Thoughts: Brain-Scans and the Mediation of Subjective Embodiment. Pp. 91-105 In Renee van de Vall and Robert Zwijnenberg (eds.) The Body Within: Art, Medicine and Visualization. Leiden: Brill. In e-reserves.


Slatman, Jenny. 2009. Transparent Bodies: Revealing the Myth of Interiority. Pp. 108-122 In Renee van de Vall and Robert Zwijnenberg (eds.) The Body Within: Art, Medicine and Visualization. Leiden: Brill. In e-reserves.


Week 7 (2/23) Pushing the Envelope: Post-Human Technologies


Haraway, Donna. Cyborg Manifesto. In e-reserves.


Kochhar-Lindgren. Technocapitalism. In e-reserves.


Stryker, Susan. Frankenstein and Transgender Rage. In e-reserves.




Week 8 (3/9) Post-Human Technologies


Bamford. Biology Unmoored. In e-reserves.


Franklin. Life after Dolly. In e-reserves.


Week 9 (3/16) Post-Human Technologies


Morgan, Lynn. Icons of Life. First 4 chapters. (One of the two required purchased texts).




Week 10 (3/23) Resurrection, Eternal Humans


Morgan, Lynn. Icons of Life. Concluding 4 chapters. (One of the two required purchased texts).

Week 11 (3/30) Resurrection, Eternal Humans


Waldby, Catherine. The Visible Human Project, Chapters 1, 2


Week 12 (4/6) Humans at the Margins


Waldby, Catherine. The Visible Human Project, Chapters 5, 6, 7


Week 13 (4/13) Humans at the Margins: Uneven Technologies


Read both of these:

Francesca Bray. 2007. Gender and Technology. Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 36: 37-53.


Ware, Amy. M. 2009. Will Roger’s Radio: Race and Technology in the Cherokee Nation. American Indian Quarterly. Vol. 33(1): 62-97.


Plus, choose at least 1 of the following:

Furlow, Christopher A. 2009. Technoscience in Islamic Societies: Malaysian Modernities: Cultural Politics and the Construction of Muslim Technoscientific Identities. Anthropological Quarterly 82(1): 197-228.


Hamdy, Sherine F. 2009. Islam, Fatalism, and Medical Intervention: Lessons from Egypt on the Cultivation of Forbearance (Sabr) and Reliance on God (Tawakkul). Anthropological Quarterly 82(1): 173-196.


James, Keith. 2006. Identity, Cultural Values, and American Indians’ Perceptions of Science and Technology. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 30(3): 45-58.


Skalli, Loubna H. 2006. Communicating Gender in the Public Sphere: Women and Information Technologies in the MENA. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 2(2): 35-59.


Wasserman, Herman. 2005. Renaissance and Resistance: Using ICTs for Social Change in Africa. African Studies 64(2): 177-123.


Week 14 (4/20) Conclusions


Conclusions and Sharing of Student MA Proposals.