Abracadabra: Language, Memory, Representation
Anthropology 375/575: Abracadabra: Language and Memory in Science and Technology
Sewall Hall 303
What exactly do language and memory have to do with knowledge? Are they passive tools or essential components? Are all languages equal, or are there better and worse ways of saying something? What's the difference between natural language and mathematics? Between logic and language? Between memory and storage? Between information processing and thinking? Do words do things? Do algorithms have meaning? What's the relationship between technology and thinking, or between remembering and archiving? Between meaning and information? And what does Dracula have to do with all this?
This is lecture and discussion course that considers these issues. It is a combination of history, philosophy, and anthropology. It is eclectic in its scope, and it spans 2500 years of human history. The course is principally concerned with presenting a small cross section of the great diversity of ways that langauge, memory, information, science and religion intersect.
There are five sections:
Requirements are the following:
Required reading of c. 50-80 pages per week.
Assignments happen approximately every two-three weeks,
students will be responsible for assignments varying in length and
complexity. Readings and Assignments constitute the bulk of your
grade. Mandatory participation and attendance will make up the rest.
Required Texts, available at the bookstore:
Optional: Friedrich Kittler, Grammophone, Film, Typewriter, Palo Alto:
Stanford University Press, 1999.
Also required are readings on electronic reserve. Instructions for Use will be presented in class.
Jan 13: Introduction
Jan 15: (1)Michael Lynch and John Law, ``Pictures,
Texts, and Objects: The literary language game of bird-watching,''
Jan 20: No Class (MLK Day)
Literacy, Numeracy, Print
Jan 22: Elizabeth Eisenstein. The Printing
revolution in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge University Press,
1983, pgs. 3-106.
Jan 27: Paul Saenger, The Space Between Words,
Ars Memoria: Techniques of Memory and Creativity
Feb 3: Francis Yates, The Art of Memory,
Feb 10: Yates, Chapter 6.
Feb 14: Discussion. Memory vs. Cognition.
Film Screening: ``Rashoman'' dir. Akira Kurosawa 1950. Time TBA
Feb 17: Mary Carruthers, ``Craft of Thought'' pgs. 25-60
Feb 19: Yates, Ch, 17.
Feb 21: Discussion: Methods of Thought and Methods of science
Film screening: ``Memento'' dir. Christopher Nolan 2000. Time TBA
Feb 24: A.R. Luria, Mind of a Mnemonist,pgs. 3-40.
Feb 26: Vannevar Bush, ``As We May Think,'' from
The Atlantic Monthly, July 1945, Volume 176, No. 1; pages
Feb 28: Discussion
Perfect Languages: from tables to algorithms
Mar 3: Umberto Eco, The Search for the Perfect Language, Introduction, Chapters. 1, 2, (5 optional).
Mar 5: (1) Eco, Chapter 4
Mar 7: Discussion
Mar 10-14: midterm break
Mar 17: (1) Eco, Chapter 14.
Mar 19: Mary M. Slaughter, Universal Languages
and Scientific Taxonomy in the Seventeenth Century, Intro, Ch. 2.
Mar 21: Discussion
Mar 24: (1) Slaughter, Ch. 5
Mar 26: (1) Eco, Ch. 12.
(2) Borges, ``The Analytical
Language of John Wilkins''
Mar 28: No Class.
Mar. 31: (1) Eco pgs. 302-336 (chapters
Apr 2: Geoffrey Nunberg, ``Farewell to the Information
Age'' in The Furture of the Book, ed. Geoffrey Nunberg,
University of California Press, 1996.
Apr 4: Discussion/Lecture: Social Character of information. Supernatural technology. (Begin Reading Dracula)
Apr 7: Bram Stoker, Dracula, Chs 1-4.
Apr 9: Stoker, Chs 5-9.
Apr 11: Discussion
Apr 14: Stoker, Chs. 10-14.
Apr 16: Stoker, Chs. 15-17.
Apr 18: Discussion.
Apr 21: Stoker, Chs. 18-22.
Apr 23: Stoker, Chs. 23-27.
Apr 25: Conclusion, Reprise.
Other Important Information:
Incompletes are not given.
Honor Code issues: For the assignments, group investigation and
research is encouraged, but each assignment handed in must be the
student's own original work. In the case of group assignments,
division of labor will be up to the students, and any necessary
honor code guidelines will be provided.
Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with the instructor during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities will need to also contact Disability Support Services in the Ley Student Center.
|Christopher Kelty Last modified: Sat Mar 15 14:33:30 CST 2003|