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Syllabus (PDF)

Course Description

Subject examines the brain as a cultural object in contemporary media, science, and society. Explores cultural assumptions about neuroscience by drawing on anthropology, history, semiotics, and the cognitive sciences. Topics include historical views of the brain; digital images of the brain; psychopharmacology; mental illness; neurotransmitters; and the culture of brain science. Class assignments include three brief analytical papers and one oral presentation.

Requirements--3 Papers plus Participation

Papers are due on the first day of the week--there will be a grade reduction for lateness.

  • Analysis Paper 1 (5-7 pages)
    Of scientific or popular science article.
  • Term Paper (in middle, using concepts)
    1. Mapping a subfield in neuroscience/psychiatry etc.
    2. Journals, players, concepts.
    3. Interview and/or fieldwork.
  • Analysis Paper 2 (5-7 pages)
    Comparing popular and academic papers or create teaching tool (webpages or applet, etc.)


  1. Questions everyday from readings.
  2. A sentence from each text that inspired you--be prepared to discuss.
  3. Two questions from different readings
    • be prepared to describe context in the text, author's argument.
    • be prepared to provide your answer (as to why a smart person would have done it)
    • be prepared to answer another person's question.


You must attend all classes and sections--each class is an entire week.

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