On Liking

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Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

cultural anthropology
positive psychology, counseling, education

What does it mean to like something or someone ? What informs our seemingly personal sensibilities, feelings, emotions, passions, tastes, sentiments, desires, and preferences about the people in our lives and the things in our material world? What brings us pleasure, what revolts us, and why? And how are our desires and passions linked to identity construction and matters of social distinction, stigma, and social hierarchy?

In this program, we will draw on anthropology, social psychology, history, and social theory to answer these and other questions about matters of taste. Through serious consideration of scholarly works and our own embodied experiences, we will focus on the enculturation and cultivation of particular sensibilities, looking at the interplay of pleasure and power in the United States and in other cultural contexts. In doing so, we will pay attention to what entices and what offends, for whom, with whom, when, and why. Questions of subjectivity and difference lie at the core of the inquiry, as well as the possibility of shared perceptions—locally or universally—of fragrance and stench, resonance and discord, splendor and repulsiveness.

Two major modes of social scientific inquiry will be taught and utilized in this program: ethnography (the primary research method within cultural anthropology) and experimental quantitative research studies (social psychology). Students will learn the principles of research design and analysis in each of these two social scientific research methodologies in the fall quarter, including some introductory statistics. In the winter, students will design and conduct their own independent or collaborative research studies on sensibilities and/or emotions, focusing on utilizing one of the two methods learned in the fall. The program will provide intermediate-level grounding in cultural anthropology and social psychology; introduce perspectives in sociology, history, philosophy, and sociolinguistics; and help prepare students to complete capstone projects in critical and interpretive social sciences.

Students taking the program for 12 credits will choose to attend only one of the two methods workshops (ethnography OR experimental psychology). Students enrolled for 16 credits will attend both workshops.

Program Details

Fields of Study

anthropology history psychology

Preparatory For

anthropology, history and psychology.



Fall Open Winter Signature

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 10:30am (Sem II E3105)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$130 in fall for museum entrance fees and overnight field trips.


2017-11-28This program will accept new enrollment with faculty signature.
2017-11-27Winter fee removed.
2017-05-12This program is available for 12 or 16 credits.