Cultures and Values


HUM 101 Cultures and Values:  Spring 2013

Monday 9:00-11:45 (Journal Square) or Thursday 9:00- 11:45 (NHC)


Barry Tomkins 201-360-4682 This syllabus is also posted on my website at (make a note in your planner in case you lose this document!).


Office Hours in I-207-B Monday 4:00 - 5:00; Tuesday 4:00 - 5:00; Wednesday 1:00 - 2:30; before and after class, and by appointment. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or problems. E-mail works best for queries (but please note: I do not accept homework by e-mail).


Mailbox: Please leave work at I-106 with a staff member if I am not in my office. 


Course Description

The course is designed to help you learn about cultures and perspectives other than your own, the causes of cultural conflicts, and ways in which culture and values and identity are related.  A special emphasis will be placed on understanding different kinds of values and how these may be informed and influenced by cultural background. You will investigate and clarify your own values and cultural influences as you explore those of others. You will develop your ability to write about values and discuss issues of cultural difference.


Pre-requisite: ENG 101. Students without this pre-requisite must drop the course or may be administratively withdrawn. You are expected to be able to produce clearly written, well-organized work making use of skills learned and practiced in College Composition I. See Writing Assignments  and Guidelines for Writing Essays and Writing a Summary in this syllabus.


Required Reading

This semester we’ll be a reading about a variety of world cultures past and present. We’ll also read about the major beliefs and values of several major world religions and philosophies of life. So some reading will be about real life experiences, and some about ideas. I’ve tried to create a balance between the two.


· Stuart and Terry Hirschberg, One World, Many Cultures. 8th. edition. New York: Allyn and Bacon, 2009 ISBN 0-205-80110-2

· Mary E. Williams, ed., Constructing a Life Philosophy. New York: Greenhaven Press, 2005 ISBN 0-7377-2928-7


Required Work

All work for the course must be completed in order to receive a passing grade. Course work consists of weekly reading assignments, in-class writing assignments (30%),  homework writing assignments (60%), participation in group work and class discussions (see Attendance and Participation), and one oral presentation with a written component (10%).


In-Class Writing (30%)

We’ll begin most classes with a brief in-class writing assignment based on the reading assigned for that day.

-          These will be “books closed” assignments; however, you may review your notes as you write. Books closed at 9:00 a.m.! After 9:15, you will be too late.

-          You will need to be well prepared to earn credit for these assignments, which are graded Pass or Fail.

-          Especially good responses are graded + (these will help in later grading decisions- the  more +s the better for your grade!).

-          No make-ups.

-          If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, you may be able to make up the points by writing summaries of all the readings for the week. See Writing a Summary to do this correctly.

-          If you are consistently late, I will withdraw this privilege and you will lose the points (3 for each in-class assignment).

-          See Attendance and Participation below.


Homework Writing Assignments (60% = 2 @ 15%, 1 @30%)  

Three homework writing assignments – essays –  are required.

-          See Writing Assignments - Homework.

-          All written work must be typed and double-spaced, without separate cover pages. Double-sided is fine.

-          One revision will be allowed of each homework assignment for a higher grade.

-          Revisions must be handed in one week after the original is returned, with the original marked version.


Oral Report (10%)

Your oral report will be on your chosen essay or story.

-          Sign up during first or second class session to report on one reading on the syllabus.

-          One presenter for each reading.

-          First come, first served.

-          See Oral Report Guidelines.


Attendance and Participation

            My expectation is that you are a serious student, interested in learning and developing your abilities and knowledge, who will come to class well prepared and on time. I expect you to attend all class sessions and participate in class discussion and activities, including group work.


-          Turn phones off or mute; do not speak on the phone or text in class.

-          If you are dealing with a family problem, let me know in advance and leave the room if you have to take an emergency call.

-          Each missed session = -5%.

-          More than two missed sessions will be grounds for failure.

-          You may make up the lost points for two absences by writing a 150-word summary of each reading assigned for the week you missed and handing it in when you return to class.

-          See Writing a Summary to do this correctly.

-          A third absence will normally be grounds for failure. However, if you have documentation to explain your third absence, with permission you may make up the lost points as above.

-          There are no excused absences in college. You may need to withdraw from the course if illness, work, personal, family or social problems prevent you from attending class or doing your work.


Weekly Reading Assignments (H = Hirschberg, P = Constructing a Life Philosophy)

Session One:   Introductions; syllabus; Miner, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” (H, handout)


Session Two:   Plato, “Living with Shadows in A Cave” (P)

                        David R. Counts, “Too Many Bananas” (H)

Natadecha-Sponsel, “Individualism as an American Cultural Value” (H)


Session Three: Robinson, “Ultimate Meaning Does Not Exist” (P)

Saint-Laurent, “Religion Pursues Life’s Meaning” (P)

                        Anderson, “Science Can Uncover Life’s Meaning” (P)


Session Four:   Napoleon Chagnon, “Doing Fieldwork among the Yanomamo” (H)

                        Colin Turnbull, “The Mbuti Pygmies” (H)

                        Tomoyuki Iwashita, “Why I Quit the Company” (H)


Session Five:   Miller, “Liberal Christianity Combines Reason with Faith” (P)

                        George, “Conservative Christianity Is a Biblical Relationship with God”                             (P)

                        Essay # 1 due (see Writing Assignments)


Session Six:     Slater, “Want-Creation Fuels Americans’ Addictiveness” (H)

Catherine Lim, “Paper” (handout)

Norberg-Hodge, “Learning from Ladakh” (H)

Essay #1 returned


Session Seven: Ahmad, “Islam Entails a Submission to God’s Will” (P)

Eisler, “Ecofeminism Reclaims the Great Mother Goddess” (P)

Teasdale, “Interspirituality Embraces the Heart of All Religions” (P)

Optional Revision of Essay #1 due


Session Eight: Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes, “Civilize Them with a Stick” (H)

                        Chopin, “Desiree’s Baby” (H)

                        Victor Villasenor, “Rain of Gold” (handout)


Session Nine:  Farrer-Halls, “Buddhism Seeks Enlightenment and Ultimate Reality” (P)

                        Radhakrishnan, “Hinduism Teaches That All Ways Lead to God” (P)

                        Kurtz, “Secular Humanism Encourages Moral Awareness” (P)

Essay #2 due (see Writing Assignments)


Session Ten:    Christy Brown, “The Letter ‘A’” (H)

                        Sucheng Chan, “You’re Short, Besides” (H)

                        Viramma, “A Pariah’s Life” (H)

                        Essay #2 returned


Session 11:      Douchan Gersi, “Initiated into an Iban Tribe of Headhunters” (H)  

                        Steele and Major, “China Chic: East Meets West” (H)

                        Schildkrout, Body Art as Visual Language” (H)

Optional revision of Essay #2 due


Session 12:      Dirie, “The Tragedy of Female Circumcision” (H)

                        Kulick and Machado-Borges, “Leaky” (H)

                        Judith Ortiz Cofer, “The Myth of the Latin Woman” (H)


Session 13:      Tamanna Rahman, “Covering Up Is Liberating” (handout)

                        Psychology Today, “The Plight of the Little Emperors” (H)

                        Serena Nanda, “Arranging a Marriage in India” (H)

                        Essay #3 due


Session 14:      Jefferson, “Develop an Honest Heart”  (P)

                        Machiavelli, “Develop a Devious Mind” (P)

                        Ringer, “Look Out for Number One” (P. )

Essay #3 returned for optional revision


Session 15:      Final in-class writing assignment & concluding discussion

                        Optional revision of Essay #3 due


Oral Report Guidelines


Structure of oral report. You must follow this format:


·  A list of all the main points or events

-          One to one -and- half pages, double-spaced

-          Use your own words as much as possible

-          Do not write an essay. Make a list with bullets, like this one.

-          Be concise, but include all main points, facts and events.


·  A list of points which answers the question, “What does this reading teach us about being human?”

-          one half page, 3- 5 points on your list.


·  Three questions about culture and/or values which the article or story makes you ask, and which you think other readers might like to consider.

-          You will ask the class for suggested answers and lead the ensuing discussion.

-          Tip: Try out the questions on others before coming to class to see if they’re easy to understand and/or answer.

-          Avoid questions which lead to yes/ no answers or lead to an obvious response.

-          Try to come up with questions which relate to the themes of our course.


Give me a copy on the day of your presentation. See additional guidelines for doing well below. You will get an evaluation which looks like this:



Oral Report Feedback (10% of Final Grade)


Name ________________________    Topic ____________________________



-          Takes the form of a list of points

-          Covers all main points of the reading.

-          Does not include unnecessary detail

-          Is concise and easy to understand


What does this reading teach us about being human?

-          Takes the form of a list of points

-          Addresses key issues raised by the reading

-          Generalizes from the evidence in the reading

-          Is presented clearly to the audience


Three Questions

-          Are pertinent to the reading and its implications

-          Raise issues or concerns of relevance to the topic

-          Demand careful thought about cultures and/or values

-          Are germane to the concerns of the course



Grade _________________ __________ date ________



                                                Writing Assignments - Homework

Essays must be typed (12 point, Courier New or Times New Roman), double-spaced and without cover sheets. Essays not handed in on the day due must be in my mailbox (leave at I-106 – 119 Newkirk Street) two weekdays following class or they will be marked down one grade.  Essays received more than one week late will receive an even lower grade but must be done to earn a passing grade for the course. Absence from class is not an excuse for late work. One revision will be permitted for each essay. Revisions are due one week after the original is returned. Revisions must be accompanied by the original marked version. E-mailed writing assignments will not be accepted unless there are special circumstances (i.e., not simply because work is late).


Do not use any essay or story from the syllabus more than once. Do not write about what you selected for your oral report.


Essays #1 (due Session #5) and #2 (due Session #9) – do A and B, in either order.


A.    (15%) - about 3 - 4 pages, double spaced. No cover page.  Use MLA format for in-text citation of an author’s words or information (Saint-Laurent 45).


Write about the beliefs described by one author in Constructing a Life Philosophy (on the syllabus or not).  Do you think that if more people adopted the values and beliefs explained in this article the world would be a better place? Explain your reasoning.


Your introduction should be a brief (150-200 word) summary of the article; then state and defend your thesis, providing support from the article and any other information you would like to import. Organize your essay by discussing several key values and/ or beliefs from your chosen article.


B:  (15%) - about 3 - 4 pages, double spaced. No cover page.  Use MLA format for in-text citation of an author’s words or information (Saint-Laurent 45).


Write an essay about one reading from Hirschberg (on the syllabus or not). Your essay should answer the question, “Why should people read this article?” 


· Your introduction should be a brief (150-200 word) summary of the article which will serve as your introduction; then state and defend your thesis, providing support from the article and any other information you would like to import.


Essay #3 (30%) – due Session 13. A documented essay of 5 – 7 pages, double spaced.  Works Cited page and correct use of  in-text citation (MLA format) required. Additional instructions on format will be provided for those of you who are unfamiliar with documentation rules, but you can use your College Composition I or II handbook for guidance:


First, choose one of the topics below. Your essay will explain your point of view on the topic, so choose carefully!


C1:  Do you believe individuality is more important than belonging to a social, ethnic or religious group and sharing values and behavior with that group?  Explain your point of view. Use any two essays or stories from the course textbooks and one researched source to support your argument.


C2 How important is conformity? Should people be expected to conform to the cultural rules and expectations of their society?  Explain your point of view. Use any two essays or stories from the course textbooks and one researched source to support your argument.


C3  Do you believe cultural practices or habits or beliefs or values should be allowed to determine gender roles in families or other social groups? Explain your point of view.  Use any two essays or stories from the course textbooks and one researched source to support your argument.


C4. Compare/ contrast tradition and change. How important io you believe each of these is for individuals and for social groups?  What’s your point of view? Use any two essays or stories from the course textbooks and one researched source to support your argument.


C5  To what extent do social, ethnic or religious groups have a right to their own cultural practices? Do you believe that anyone has the right to interfere in the practices of another group? What’s your point of view? Use any two essays or stories from the course textbooks and one researched source to support your argument.


Special Guidelines for Essay #3:

After deciding on your topic, choose two readings from our course books which you have not written about in Essays #1 or #2 or used for your oral report and which are relevant to your topic.


Find one additional source of information from the library or on-line. This must be at least 3 written pages, from a reputable source which provides reliable information about a culture, cultural practice, or set of beliefs. Wikipedia is not permitted as a source, though you may use it as a research tool. If you are in doubt about whether the source you have found is suitable, ask/ show me.


Note: this third source must be about a culture, cultural practice, or set of beliefs. It will not be appropriate to use a source (e.g. a sociology or anthropolgy text book or article) which provides definitions or general theoretical discussion of the topic. The purpose of the assignment is for you to explore and explain your own ideas about the topic you choose.


♦ A suggestion for pre-writing: prepare a summary (about 150 - 200 words) of each reading you have chosen. See instructions for Writing a Summary. Explain all the main points or events of the reading. Leave out less important details. Use these summaries in the body of your essay when you introduce each article or story.


♦ Choose useful quotations from each reading. You can decide which to use in your essay later. Selections should be short, no more than two or three lines at most.


♦ Using MLA style, write a Works Cited entry for each reading.


Use your ENG 101 or ENG 102 handbook to do this correctly, or see

   Go to Research and Citation.


The most recent versions of Word also include MLA citation help under References on the Toolbar.


♦ Make a photocopy or print the researched article. You’ll need this to hand in with your essay. Don’t print a lot, just the pages you use.




Write an essay of 5-7 pages answering the question you chose above.


♦ Make sure your thesis is stated clearly close to the beginning – preferably at the end of your introduction. Your thesis should answer the question of your chosen assignment.


♦ In the body of your essay, discuss each reading, using material from each to support your thesis. Begin your discussion of each source with a brief summary to orient your reader to the material you are discussing. Make sure all of your essay is focused on supporting your thesis. See sample outline below if you need help with this.


♦ Include at least one quotation from each source. Use correct format for in-text citation (MLA). See the references above to do this well.


♦ Provide a Works Cited (MLA) page at the end of your essay.


Sample Plan for Essay #3, a 5-7 page essay using 3 sources


Introduction. Try not to write bland statements which are obvious or commonplace, e.g. “There are many cultures in the world, etc.” Instead, consider one of the following strategies:

            - pose a problem

            - tell a story

            - refer to a statistical fact

            - use a quotation from one of your sources

            - refer to a current news item


State your thesis. This should seem to grow out of your introduction naturally. Your thesis should answer the question of the assignment.


♦ Body:


Introduce Source #1 by giving the author and title, briefly explaining its relevance, and providing a brief summary (150- 200 words).


Make your supporting points about Source #1. Make them one by one, each in a separate paragraph, using evidence from the source and/or your own examples, etc. to support your points.


Introduce Source #2 by giving the author and title, briefly explaining its relevance, and providing a brief summary (150 - 200 words).


Make your supporting points about Source #2. Make them one by one, each in a separate paragraph, using evidence from the source and/or your own examples, etc. to support your points.


  Introduce Source #3 by giving the author and title, briefly explaining its relevance, and providing a brief summary (150- 200 words)..


Make your supporting points about Source #3. Make them one by one, each in a separate paragraph, using evidence from the source and/or your own examples, etc. to support your points.


Conclusion. Avoid repeating exactly the same points in the same words you have made before, but keep in mind you are still reinforcing your thesis in this last paragraph or two. Possibilities:

            - look to the future

            - remind the reader of the past

            - write about the implications of your thesis for a child growing up

            - consider the themes of culture and identity as they relate to your thesis

            - put your thesis in a broader context







Sample Summary, Thesis and Outline Plan for Essay # 1 or #2.

In Peter Farb’s book, Humankind, he summarizes the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead’s findings on the variety of gender roles she discovered in New Guinea. Within a hundred miles of each other she found tribes practicing radically different approaches to the roles men and women play in social groups.  She also found large differences in the level of aggression and initiative expected or tolerated from each gender. Among the Arapesh, for instance, both genders are gentle, both take on child-care responsibilities, and both may initiate sexual activity. Gender roles among the Mundugumor are similar to the Arapesh, but the genders are equally aggressive. The Tchambuli, on the other hand, show a different pattern, in which men are somewhat passive, interested mostly in body adornments and the arts, whereas the women are the providers for the family (Farb 101).

            This variety in behavior and social expectations can teach us a lot about gender roles in human societies. We can learn is that there is no “natural” order when it comes to men and women, and that gender roles are culturally determined. In reality, each social group has its own traditions which evolve - and are taught – as the “right” way to do things. So as there is no natural, preordained order, there is no reason in our modern world – with its variety of models to choose from - for people to have to put up with oppressive systems which require men or women to live unhappy lives.


3. Learning from the Mundugumor

-          equality

-          aggression

-          child-rearing in that environment

-          examples from own experience


4. Learning from the Tchambuli

-          lazy, selfish men in the US (cf. cousin Bill)

-          women doing double-duty (cf. cousin Bill’s wife)

-          need for balance, equity


5. Learning from the Arapesh

-          role-sharing

-          gentleness

-          child-rearing in this environment


6. Conclusion

            - a vision for the future from the past?




Guidelines for Writing Essays

College Composition I is a prerequisite for Cultures and Values, so what follows is meant to be a brief reminder of what you learned there. Keep these main points in mind:


· Have something to say. An essay which merely summarizes other people’s writing or presents facts would not be very valuable or interesting. What you have to say about the topic is what gives your writing its point.

            ¨ If finding your point (i.e. thesis) is a problem, try some pre-writing exercises such as freewriting, brainstorming and listing - and sleep on the problem!


· Support your ideas with useful evidence. When you provide an example to support an idea, you show it working in the real world, and it comes alive for the reader.

            ¨ Jot down examples from personal experience, or that of others.

            ¨ Underline useful selections from the reading which you may be able to quote or refer to in your essay.


· Organize your material. Pity your poor reader, who wants to move from point to point in a logical, organized way, following the connections you make.

            ¨ Make a rough outline of your essay before you write.

            ¨ Build bridges between sections of your essay - use transitional phrases and sentences.


· Write engaging introductions and satisfying conclusions.

            ¨ An introduction should engage your readers and orient them to your topic and

point of view.

            ¨ A conclusion should not repeat your thesis in a mechanical way, but create a sense of an ending.


· Write well-developed body paragraphs.

            ¨ Each paragraph should help support your thesis and clarify your position or perspective.

            ¨ Each paragraph should be use details to make a supporting point.

            ¨ Details might include: examples from your own experience, history, general knowledge, or literature. (Note: references to sources must be documented using MLA Guidlelines.)


· Write clear, well-balanced, grammatical sentences. You don’t have to be a sophisticated stylist to communicate effectively, but your reader won’t appreciate grammatical errors or clumsily constructed sentences!

            ¨ Treat each sentence as a mini-composition. Revise each sentence.

            ¨ Avoid repeating the same sentence structure over and over – vary the kinds of sentence you use.

            ¨ Consider alternate vocabulary choices (but remember - a fancier word isn’t necessarily a better word - use your own voice, not someone else’s!).

            ¨ Don’t ask a lot of questions you can’t answer, or expect the reader to answer.


· Revise, revise, revise! Few writers compose well on the first draft; the best usually rewrite several times.

            ¨ Leave time to do several drafts.

            ¨ Review thesis, organization, paragraph structure, evidence, sentences.

            ¨ Make a list of your favorite grammatical errors and hunt them down.

            ¨ Share with a friend or friends – form a study group and help each other.


· Use quotation properly.

            ¨ Always use quotation marks when using the author’s exact words.

            ¨ Introduce any quotations carefully, so the reader knows why it’s there. Follow up with your point.

            ¨ After the quotation, put the author’s name in parenthesis and the page number (James 97).


            Bill James believes that consumerism is the worst trend of the modern period. He states, “Consumerism has turned humans into shallow, acquisitive demons. The mall is their temple and shopping their religion” (James 76). James should realize that shopping gives many people great pleasure in life, and that owning fancy cars and houses and several closets full of extra clothing gives their lives real meaning they cannot get elsewhere.


Document information taken from sources.

            ♦ If you get information from a source, tell the reader where you got it and provide in-text citation:


            Bill James points out in “Consumerism and the Modern Economy” that 70% of the U.S. economy is dependent on the population buying goods of one kind or another (James 99).






Writing a Summary


 You need to do this a. to introduce your sources in your essays, b. if you are absent from a session or c. you come in late and miss the in-class writing assignment (if permitted).


Writing an Effective Summary (about 150-200  words, one paragraph)


  1. Read the article carefully once. Don’t take notes. Take your time, enjoy the reading experience, and allow yourself to react to what’s interesting in what you read.
  2. Read it a second time, this time taking notes which form a rough outline and include:

·         topic

·         main idea

·         major events or supporting  ideas

  1. Draft a one-sentence summary.  Don’t worry if the sentence is long or awkward.

Try to “tell the whole story” in that sentence.  (Don’t give up on this. You can do it if you try.)

  1. Use your rough outline to decide on the essential details which will support the one-sentence summary.
  2. Combine the essential details into a few complete sentences which will form the body of the paragraph.
  3. Put the one-sentence summary at the beginning of your paragraph.
  4. Edit



Seven Points to Remember When Writing a Summary


♦ Use your own words as much as possible, but do not add your own ideas or comments.

♦ Include the author’s name and the title.

♦ Begin with a sentence which gives an overview of the whole piece.

♦ Include all essential information.

♦ Leave out details which are not essential.

♦ Do not copy out phrases or sentences unless you use quotation marks correctly.

♦ Be concise: use as few words as possible while still being clear.


From Peter Farb, Humankind


Culture can only exist within the context of human society - and in the absence of culture, conversely, human society is impossible. The two are inseparable. Culture, therefore, is the society’s blueprint for behavior: what must be done, what ought to be done, and what must not be done.


Culture is essential to the survival of human beings because they lack the instincts that enable other animals to survive and reproduce. Animals have inherited complex forms of behavior which appear at the appropriate times without having been learned from other members of their species.…


Humans survive as a result of the things they are able to learn, not the things they are born with. And because of their complex brains and their possession of language, humans can learn more things more rapidly than other animals, and they can respond with a greater flexibility of behavior. Instead of inheriting habits and skills, they must learn these from other members of their society during the course of their lives.


In short, culture is what is learned from the cumulative experience of past generations, shared among contemporaries, and preserved beyond the individual life span of a society’s members.


The day-to-day interactions between groups and individuals are influenced by guides to conduct known as “norms.” Norms set boundaries for what people must or should do to be acceptable to other members of society…. Some norms are so deeply ingrained from infancy that people mistakenly think of them as inborn and attribute the behavior arising from them to “human nature.”