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Self in Society
15 weeks two 75-minute class sessions per week Robert Harsh
• 110 Angell Center 564-2293 firstname.lastname@example.org
Self-in-Society Course Web Site Address
Course Description: This course will utilize lecture, class discussion, critical essays, personal reflection, class exercises, and testing in several formats to examine the emergence and development of the individual sense of self in the context of social and symbolic interaction. Though grounded in sociological perspectives, our discussion will include attention to physiological, psychological, spiritual, and philosophical dynamics as cultural components of self-understanding and individuation. Later in the course we will also focus on contemporary transformations of social values and controls as "boundary issues" in post-modern self-consciousness.
Texts: We will supplement primary readings in essential sociological theory (George Herbert Mead and Erving Goffman) with secondary, narrative accounts of contemporary self-development as follows:
John Colapinto, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted
Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self, and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Russ Rymer, Genie: A Scientific Tragedy
• film - The Truman Show
Week Topics/Themes Readings
(see home page [Web])
Week 1 course components; course outline; Web site syllabus [ Web]
methodology; perspectives; terminology Mead 1-41
reading and the self home page [Web]
Mead recitation [Web]
Week 2 sociology; social psychology; physiology; bio-sociology Rymer 1-62
language and identity; three dynamics of self-development Mead 42-134
The Truman Show (in class)
Week 3 mind, brain, and self-consciousness Rymer 65-221
The Social Construction of the Self
(see socialization course unit guide [Web])
Week 4 socialization and individuation; "me" and "I" (Mead) Mead 135-226
social/symbolic interaction Mead recitation [ Web]
Week 5 the "conversation of gestures" (Mead) Goffman 1-76
dramaturgical perspective and dynamics (Goffman) Goffman recitation [Web]
Week 6 roles and role-playing Goffman 77-166
personality and behavior; narrative and identity text-Chapter 1 [ Web]
Week 7 social control and "impression management" ( Goffman) Goffman 167-255
The Self in Cultural Context
(see individuation course unit guide [Web])
Week 8 social cohesion and self-consciousness Mead 227-336
values, attitudes, beliefs handout text-Chapter 3 [ Web]
Week 9 sub-cultures and counter-cultures Kaysen 1-171
counter-identities; mental illness; deviance [guest lecturer]
Week 10 institutions and institutionalization Colapinto xiii-141
the singular selfcharacter and identity text-Chapter 6
Week 11 race, class, and identity politics Colapinto 142-289
gender and sexuality
Anomie and the Post-modern Self
(see transformation course unit guide [Web])
Week 12 self and soul; faith and identity Krakauer 1-97
pilgrims and pioneers; soul-searching and transformation text-Chapters 2,4 [Web]
Week 13 self-denial and self-discovery; the self and the natural world Krakauer 98-207
identity within and without [guest lecturer] text-Chapter 5 [Web]
Week 14 cultural change and indivdiual identity Postman vii-82
de-construction of the self; technology and alienation; anomie text-Chapter 7
Week 15 the New Age self; post-modern consciousness Postman 83-163
Course Web Site: I've developed Web pages to complement and supplement our reading and class discussions. This Self-in-Society Web Site is available through your Web browser at the following address: http://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/robert.harsh/ The site includes an overall introduction to the course; course announcements and updates; this syllabus and other course materials; my text/papers on course topics; and a discussion forum where I hope you will share your thoughts and perspectives on course themes and issues. The Web site can also link you to biographies of the authors and other, related information.. I welcome your feedback and suggestions as I continue to develop the Web site through the semester. Please note that I will include your participation in web discussions as well as in-class activities/discussions in determining your attendance and participation grade. (See Attendance and Participation below.)
Exams: There will be four examsone at the end of each of the four course unitsin a variety of formats. You can use a fifth, optional exam during exam week to improve your course grade. (See Grading below.) Exams will generally ask you to critically relate primary and secondary readings.
Critical Essay: Each student will complete one critical essay on her or his choice of course topic and readings. The essay should be at least five pages, typed or word-processed, and appropriately documented. The essay should include:
a brief (one-page) summary of the relevant readings and concepts;
a three-page critical analysis of the issues and their implications in the context of other course discussions and readings; and
a one-page conclusion clearly stating your perspective and conclusions.
You will draw for paper due-dates during the first week of the course. I will grade the papers both for the quality of your critical thinking/analysis and for the quality and accuracy of your writing and may ask you to share your analysis and perspective in our class discussion of related topics.
Reflective Essay: A second, five-page essay will focus on your own process of self-development and -awareness, relating course concepts, themes, and readings to your personal experience and reflection. Though this essay will not require formal annotation or analysis, it should directly reference the course readings and topics and be written clearly and accurately (writing counts!) . If you prefer, you may complete this essay in an equivalent, creative format: short story; poetry; humorous or philosophical dialogue; fictional or other narrative; class presentation. You will also draw for one of three due-dates for this essay during the first week of the class.
Class Participation and Attendance: I will take attendance at each class session and will note the level and quality of your participation in class discussions and activities both in class and on the Web. This is an ambitious agenda of readings and topics; keeping up with the reading and actively sharing your perspectives will greatly enrich the course experience for all of us.
I will determine final course grades on the following percentage basis:
average of four or five exams 45%
critical essay 25%
reflective essay 15%
attendance and participation (including Web discussions) 15%.
Writing: I will grade the two essays for both content and writing quality. Be sure to carefully review your written work for logical development, solid organization, and grammatical accuracy before handing it in. (Use of sub-heads can help clarify a paper's arguments and structure.) Resources for improving your writing skills are available through the Learning Center in the Angell College Center.
Late Work: In grading late work, I will deduct one letter grade for each week or portion of a weekbeyond the original due date.
Academic Honesty Policy: “Academic honesty is essential to the intellectual health of the university and the ideals of education. SUNY Plattsburgh expects students to be honest and to conduct themselves with integrity in all aspects of their relationship with the college (e.g., application, transfer evaluation, academic progress review, and credit and non-credit bearing experiences, including regular course work, independent studies, internships, practica, student teaching, and interactions with faculty, staff, and students). Academic dishonesty adversely affects the educational function of the college and undermines the integrity of its programs.
“Dishonest conduct includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, forgery, and alteration of records, along with any lying, deceit, bribery, coercion, or intimidation for the purpose of influencing a grade or for any other academic gain. Action against a student determined to have violated the academic honesty policy can range from a reduction of the grade on an assignment, through failure of a course, to suspension or even dismissal from the academic program, the department, or the college. A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be afforded due process through the College Judicial System. (See Procedures for Addressing Suspected Academic Dishonesty.)”
This policy statement replaces the paragraphs entitled "Academic Honesty Policy" and "Cheating Policy" in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog 2004-05, page 33.
Adopted by the Faculty Senate, April 13, 2004 - Approved by the President, June 7, 2004
E-mail: To facilitate your communication of concerns, messages, and questions with me throughout the semester, I have created an e-mail distribution list for the class. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, thoughts, or concerns at my college e-mail address: Robert.Harsh@Plattsburgh.edu.
Word Processing, Web Updates, and Electronic Mail: Your two essays should be clearly typed orbetter yetprepared on a word processor to facilitate spell-checking, revision, and readability. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns during the semester. I will use e-mail as well to communicate with the class through a distribution list or in updates/announcements on the Web site available through the TABS link on the home page. Be sure to check this TABS/Updates Web page daily throughout the semester.
Active Learning and Class Participation: I realize that I have mapped out a very challenging semester of reading and discussion, and in planning the class I have used the college guideline of roughly three hours of reading, writing, and preparation for each class hour. I am confident, however, that your hard work and energetic curiosity will enrich this learning experience for all of us. I look forward to working with you through an active and engaging semester; please feel free to consult with me either directly or by e-mail if at any time you have suggestions, questions, or concerns.
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This page last modified on 08/28/06.