Anthropology 510-1: A Crash Course in Humanity



Instructor: TBD

Office Hours: N/A

Class meetings: M-F 9am-5pm


This course explores the nature of rapid, forced socialization. As the subject is rather broad, this course will focus mainly on the post-collegiate experience and the following obstacles for which there is no syllabus, and yet must be conquered without any instruction such as the post-collegiate social hierarchy. Other course subjects include but will not be limited to:

  • Financial independence (Young, Dumb, and full of Income)
  • Extreme Loss/”Real Life” Moments
  • Job Ethics/Watercooler Culture
  • Courtship (Bars, Cars, and Courting Capital)

The course will conclude with an in-depth look at the “Winter Theory,” and will begin again immediately after the final exam is completed.


Anthro 101-401 (Undergraduate Degree required in some but not all cases)


University Socialization, Watercooler Environs, The Weirdness of the Really Real, Cultural Milestones I Haven’t Hit, Relearning to Drink, “Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky:” The Adult American Life, Winter Theory: Sudden Social Seclusion and The Importance of Human Warmth


Grading will be based on the 6 weekly reading responses and on the quality of the final assignment. Class participation is a must and reading quizzes will be given at random.


Week 1 “Introduction”


  • From University Socialization: “What are You Majoring In?” (p.1-20), “Dormitory Ettiquette”(134-148), “Underage Drinking and ‘The Hookup’”(150-160), and “Identity in an Education Hive” (166-181)        
  • Barlett, “Commencement Speeches: Roadmaps no one Reads”

Reading response: Citing University Socialization, compare and contrast the University social structure with your best guess of the social structure of “the outside world.” 

Screening (in class): Animal House

Week 2 “Into the Wild”


  • Urbani, “How to Work for Nothing”
  • Roth,“Networking vs. Begging: Two sides of the same coin?”
  • Nitwicki, “Bring the Standards down, College Kid” (Pages  1-15, Stop before “No one checks your GPA or knows your school…”)

In-Class Debate: Who you know or what you know?

  • From University Socialization “How to Measure success without the A.” (293-244)
  • Osmont, “The Job, Car, Apartment or Mate Badge: Scout Badges for Big Kids
  • Excerpts from Life’s Not Fair: ”The Dumb/Mean/Ugly Kid Makes Four Times What I Do,” “Find Happiness Outside of Your Career”

Reading Response: Discuss the passage from Life’s Not Fair about understanding the types of people in a career path when one’s age group enters the workforce. Give specific examples of classmate-types who go into the following fields and how that may change one’s perception of that field:

  • The Police Force
  • Teaching (K-6)
  • Investment Banking
  • Music

Week 3: Adult Doldrums

  • Mettinger, “What do people DO at work all day?”
  • Mettinger, from Watercooler Environs, “Hiding Your Age: Too Young to Respect, Then Too Old to Find Attractive” (33-51) “Co-worker: the Forced Friend” (55-70) starting with “in Sociological terms, we decide our closest friends by those we spend the most time with…” “Sports, Gossip, or Food: Things to talk about with Old People” (58-68)
  • Aspinger, “Bonding Through Tea, Coffee or Cigarettes”
  • Spring, “Expect Less.” 

Reading Response: Incorporating this week’s reading, respond to Spring’s idea of “Expecting Less” in the context of career, socializing, and finances. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean settling so much as toning down one’s ambitions; realizing a career is more a marathon than a sprint. Conclude with a tie-in to the reading from Week 2 Nitwicki’s essay “Bring the Standards Down, College Kid.” 

Week 4: “Real” Life 

  • Wong, “Reality Check”
  • Credenzo, from The Weirdness of the Really Real, “Near Death Experience,” (5-32) “Getting Older Means Seeing the End More Clearly,” (111-128) “She’s My Age With Kids” (130-136)

In-Class Discussion: Is it tragedy or that someone simply grew up faster than you?

  • Bing from Cultural Milestones I Haven’t Hit read “Weddings” “Real Estate” “Intellectual/Monetary Prosperity”
  • Morrow, “Molting”

Reading Response: Look at any one of the readings through Morrow’s lens of “molting.” In what ways are these experiences like losing baby feathers to make room for adult feathers, and in what ways are they like permanently losing adult feathers?

Week 5: Courtship and Drinking for Grownups

  • Amandi, “Redefining Fun: The Workweek Rager vs. the Importance of Peace”
  • Williamson, from Relearning to Drink “The Death of the Weekday Bar Crawl” (120-138) “DUIs & DDs” (139-170) “When the Waitress Remembers You…And Your Order” (203-223) “Met at a Bar vs. Picked up at the Bar” (292-315)
  • Piers, “ ‘What Do You Do?’ and Other Unsettling Courtship Questions,” “Meeting Your Soul Mate in A Dark Booze Den or ‘Bar Dating’”

Reading Response: Consumption of alcohol is considered a staple of University socialization, and (to an extent) remains so in the outside world. In cities such as Los Angeles however, destinations must be driven to. As the two cannot be legally combined, brainstorm a creative solution with a group. Does Williamson arrive at the same conclusions? Why would houseparties/taxi cabs not be a viable option? Present your findings in class.

Week 6: Winter Theory


  • Foster, “Cat Freezing Outside a Condo at 6am”
  • Ortega, “Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky:” The Adult American Life (p.45-103) Please Focus on the “7th Circle of American Hell,” 

 “…where one is banished to a macro-cubicled gated community, the zoo-like traffic jam where people can be seen but not touched or heard, and one’s “neighbors” will rarely bond with or speak with you outside of the culturally demanded quota.”

  • Vonnegut, Palm Sunday, “It Takes a Village”
  • Bennitun from Winter Theory: Sudden Social Seclusion and The Importance of Human Warmth ”Winter Theory,” and “A Solution to Winter”

In- Class Discussion: Who invented the idyllic white picket fence and “The American Dream?” Why does it seem to hinge on individuality and not community?

Reading Response: Analyze and respond to the following paragraph from Winter Theory: Sudden Social Seclusion and The Importance of Human Warmth, concluding with how best to survive Bennitun’s “Winter.” (2000 words)

“While this winter has and always will exist in the human experience, we were not always forced into this “cold.” Even within our millennia, humans lived mostly in villages and tight-knit communities. They developed their own lore and languages, they revered their ancestors, passed stories down, and there were so many ties, so much shared meaning and natural connection that they easy preserved their ‘warmth.’

Like these long-gone villages, the university experience affords students constant access to human warmth and they are, for perhaps the only time in their lives, able to fully fight off the unbearable loneliness of an “adult” life. When they leave that warmth, however, they are forced to cling desperately to each other for the romance, companionship, intellectual connection and the simple closeness that humans naturally crave. There is no time, no transition more obvious from warm to cold than that of the post-grad fallout.

And it is in that moment that they discover the the innate, insatiable human need to be with, bond with, speak with, touch, help and love the humans slogging through life just like they are.”


Final Exam: Look back on what you’ve learned in this course and create a syllabus for an exiting College Senior to attempt to prepare them for “the outside world.”