About the Major
The discipline of anthropology is as much one of the humanities as one of the social sciences, and it also has affinities with the natural sciences through its archaeological and biological anthropology components. Anthropology majors are expected to pursue an individually tailored concentration of courses designed in consultation with their advisors. These individual programs should draw on courses available in this department and others. No more than three courses taken outside Wesleyan may be counted toward the major.
If you plan to major in anthropology, you should take ANTH101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, the department's required gateway course, during your first or second year. A minimum grade of B in ANTH101 is expected as a condition of acceptance into the major. Students enrolled in ANTH101 during the spring of their sophomore year may declare the major if their midterm grade is a B or higher.
In addition to ANTH101, majors are required to earn a minimum of nine anthropology credits numbered 201 or higher. These must include two core courses in anthropological theory, ANTH295 Theory 1: Anthropology and Political Economy and ANTH296 Theory 2: Anthropology and the Person, offered in fall and spring, respectively. As the precise topics of these courses will sometimes vary in consecutive years, it may be possible to repeat one or the other for credit and fulfill the requirement, as long as the topics are different. Archaeology-track majors should take Theory 1 or Theory 2 plus another advisor-approved course in archaeological theory. The major must also include one course on anthropological methods (ANTH230, ANTH232, ANTH307, ANTH349, or another advisor-approved course). In addition, students must develop and complete an area of concentration consisting of four elective courses (see below). Senior majors are required to write a thesis, essay, or a senior seminar paper as part of their capstone experience (see below). It is strongly recommended that students work out their plans to fulfill the major requirements with their advisor by keeping their Major Certification Form up to date.
Concentrations: We encourage students to include one course from outside the discipline of anthropology as one of the four courses in their concentration. Concentrations are conceived of as flexible specializations reflecting students’ particular areas of interest. Students work with their faculty advisors to decide on a coherent set of four courses that demonstrate their specific focus within anthropology. Our areas of concentration currently include
- Social and cultural theory
- Crafting ethnography
- Producing and consuming culture
- Colonial and postcolonial worlds
- Capitalist modernities: past and present
- Social and political geographies
- Material culture and temporal processes
- Axes of difference
- Embodiment and biopolitics
- Performance, representation, identity
Majors are encouraged to take advantage of study-abroad programs and, with the approval of your advisor via the Major Certification Form, you may be able to substitute up to three of your study-abroad courses for specific concentration or elective courses or for the methods requirement. Theory courses may not be substituted. A grade of B or higher is required for study-abroad courses to count toward the major. The Office of International Studies has information about specific programs, application procedures, major credit, etc.
Senior majors are required to write a thesis, essay, or a senior seminar paper as part of their capstone experience.
Theses: Students wishing to write a fieldwork- or library-based thesis must submit a proposal, due on the last day of spring semester classes of their junior year. Fieldwork-based thesis projects are also eligible for partial funding through the department. If students wish to compete for these funds, they should include a budget in their proposal. In the fall semester of their senior year, students writing a thesis should enroll in ANTH400 Cultural Analysis, a research and writing seminar in which students pursue individual research projects in a group context. In the spring semester of their senior year, thesis candidates should enroll in an individual thesis tutorial (ANTH410). It is strongly recommended that students contemplating a thesis either enroll in an individual tutorial (ANTH402) in the spring semester of their junior year, in which they would begin library research on their area of interest, or else take a course that is relevant to their research concerns.
Essays: Essays involve fewer requirements but also represent a serious research commitment. In most cases, essay writers should enroll in ANTH400 in the fall semester of their senior year. In this case, they would complete a draft of their essay in the fall semester for final submission in February. Alternately, if their project is one that a particular faculty member is especially qualified (and willing) to supervise, they may take a program project or essay tutorial (ANTH403) with that person in the fall semester their senior year.
Seminar papers: In the senior year students who select this option should take a 300-level course (or an advisor-approved 200-level course) involves a substantial research paper. The course will ordinarily but not necessarily be one that facilitates advanced work in their area of concentration. The course must be designated and approved by the major advisor in the student's Major Certification Form prior to spring break of their senior year.
Theses are eligible for honors or high honors, and essays are eligible for honors. A minimum grade of B+ in either ANTH295 Theory 1 or ANTH296 Theory 2 is required for the pursuit of honors.
Cross-listed courses: Various departments and programs offer cross-listed or other courses that can be counted toward the anthropology major. These include African American studies, American studies, archaeology, biology, classical studies, earth and environmental sciences, history, religion, sociology, and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. If outside courses are to be counted toward the anthropology major requirements, your advisor must approve them using the Major Certification Form.
Double majors: Students may pursue double majors, for example, anthropology/history, anthropology/biology, anthropology/sociology, anthropology/music, anthropology/film, anthropology/English, or anthropology/E&ES. All the requirements for the two majors must be met, except when faculty representatives of the two departments approve alterations in your program. We generally expect students writing a thesis for honors in both majors to enroll in ANTH400 in their fall semester and enroll in a tutorial in the other department or program in their spring semester. Please consult with the department chair and/or a department advisor.