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Summer 2020 starts this month, and LA Social Science will continue to highlight some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and non-UCLA students. All summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer, and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

Check out Professor Brian Hurwitz’s UCLA ONLINE summer course, “Sex in the Cinema.” Since the Lumière brothers first screened their short films to an astonished Parisian audience in 1895, movies have continued to leave an indelible imprint on media studies and communication rhetoric. They influence the way we walk, talk, dress and dine. Simultaneously, the medium has profoundly affected our perception of beauty, romance, intimacy and love. Yet much like fashion, such perceptions have been routinely altered owing to evolutions and revolutions in social, political and institutional conditions.

This course examines the contextual forms and factors that have directly led to film shaping the way we communicate about sex and sexuality. Starting at the dawn of the twentieth century, we will engage in a decade-by-decade analysis of cultural norms, the movies that were made in accordance with them and the ones that were produced in opposition to them. This examination will further explore how the cinema has informed our attitudes towards gender identity, cultural taboos and social movements. By evaluating the manner in which erotic imagery is presented and how sexual symbolism is represented, students will gain an understanding of how past, present and future views on sex and sexuality are impacted by the cinema.

For more information about this course, see the preview video below, and enroll HERE TODAY!

 

As summer 2020 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and non-UCLA students. All summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer, and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

Check out Dr. Karyl Kicenski’s UCLA ONLINE summer course, “Communication and Identity.” Communication 108 studies the relationships among communication, culture, and identity focusing on theoretical frameworks that utilize language, representation, technology, as well as the rhetoric of public memory. Communication is understood as a performative endeavor and interrogated as a critical/cultural object to form our very notions of selfhood or subjectivity.

For more information about this course, see the preview video below, and enroll HERE TODAY!

 

As summer 2020 approaches, LA Social Science will be highlighting some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and non-UCLA students. All summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer, and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

Check out Dr. Eric Avila’s UCLA ONLINE summer course, “American Popular Culture.” The course will discuss culture as told through stories that take shape through written and spoken language; images likes films and photographs; songs, dance, art, magazines, advertising, comic books, video games, music videos, sports, recreation, leisure, and many other forms of cultural expression and cultural experience. Ultimately, the course will emphasize the historical relationship between culture and power in the United States, exploring the many avenues, such as race, class, and gender, through which power flows through cultural expression and production. Join us as we study the diverse voices of American history and how they found powerful and popular forms of expression in the words, images, and sounds of American cultural history.

For more information about this course, see the preview video below, and enroll HERE TODAY!

LA Social Science invited three Los Angeles-based professors to join a roundtable discussion about culture during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Shana Redmond, UCLA Department of African American Studies and Global Jazz Studies Musicology, Dr. Safiya Noble, UCLA Department of African American Studies and Department of Information Studies, and Dr. Robeson Taj Frazier, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, came together to engage in a lively conversation about black cultural production and consumption. Discussion topics included D-Nice, Tik-Tok, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

 

Subscribe to LA Social Science and be the first to learn more insight and knowledge from UCLA social science experts in upcoming video/audio sessions and posts about current issues.

Professor Vinay Lal, UCLA Professor of History and Asian American Studies, has an informative blog titled, “Lal Salaam: A Blog by Vinay Lal.” Recently, he began writing “a series of articles on the implications of the coronavirus for our times, for human history, and for the fate of the earth.”

The following is an excerpt of the first piece, “The Singular and Sinister Exceptionality of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)” (March 15, 2020), written in the series:

 

The social, economic, and political turmoil around the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic presently sweeping the world is unprecedented in modern history or, more precisely, in the last one hundred years. Before we can even begin to understand its manifold and still unraveling ramifications, many of which are bound to leave their imprint for the foreseeable future, it is necessary to grasp the fact that there is nothing quite akin to it in the experience of any living person. Fewer than 5500 people have died so far, and of these just under 3100 in the Hubei province of China. There have been hundreds, perhaps a few thousand, wars, genocides, civil conflicts, insurrections, epidemics, droughts, earthquakes, and other ‘natural disasters’ that have produced far higher mortality figures. About 40 million people are estimated to have died in World War I; in the Second World War, something like 100 million people may have been killed, including military personnel, civilians, as well as those civilians who perished from war-induced hunger, famine, and starvation. Weighed in the larger scheme of things, the present mortality figures from COVID-19 barely deserve mention. And, yet, it is possible to argue that what is presently being witnessed as the world responds to the COVID-19 is singular, distinct, and altogether novel in our experience of the last one hundred years.

Why should that be the case? It would be a truism to say that no one ever quite expected something like the coronavirus to spring upon us and, virtually overnight in some places, alter the entire fabric of social existence. In 1994, an intrepid journalist and researcher, Laurie Garrett, published a voluminous book, The Coming Plague, subtitled “Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance.” Written a few years after AIDS rudely awakened the world to the fact that our war with microbes is relentless, and that modern science’s supposed conquest of infectious diseases is a fantasy, Garrett argued that there was every likelihood that new and more lethal diseases would emerge, unless human beings adopted a perspective that would be more mindful of a “dynamic, nonlinear state of affairs between Homo sapiens and the microbial world, both inside and outside their bodies.” In his introduction to the volume, Jonathan M. Mann, Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at Harvard, and Director of the Harvard AIDS Institute, suggested that AIDS “may well be just the first of the modern, large-scale epidemics of infectious diseases.” If air travel has become possible for over a billion people, infectious agents can also be introduced into “new ecologic settings” far more easily. If AIDS has a lesson to teach us, Mann warned twenty-five years ago, it is that “a health problem in any part of the world can rapidly become a health threat to many or all.”

If Garrett and Mann, and perhaps a handful of other people here and there, may have been prescient, still the scope of the worldwide panic and emergency in which we are all trapped is outside the realm of contemporary human experience. The first death from the coronavirus was reported in Hubei province, which has a population just short of 60 million, on 10 January 2020. The notice announcing the closure of all transportation services in Wuhan, the largest city of the province with 11 million people, was issued early on January 23 and had been virtually put into effect later in the day; and by the end of the following day, nearly the entire province had been sealed off. Further orders on February 13 and 20 shut down all non-essential services, including schools, and a complete cordon sanitaire had been placed around a province with as many people as Italy, which has now become the site of the next largest outbreak.  To Continue Reading, click HERE.

 

To read the second in the series, “The Coronavirus, the Enemy, and Nationalism” (March 21, 2020), click HERE.

To read the third in the series, “Remote Learning and Social Distancing:  The Political Economy and Politics of Corona Pedagogy” (March 30, 2020), click HERE.

 

Subscribe to LA Social Science and be the first to learn more insight and knowledge from UCLA social science experts in upcoming video/audio sessions and posts dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Monica L. Smith is a UCLA professor in the Department of Anthropology. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, Smith is the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies and the Director of South Asian Archaeology Laboratory in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Her principal research interests have three main focuses: the human interaction with material culture, urbanism as a long-term human phenomenon, and the development of social complexity. Most recently, Smith has spent time on a research project in eastern India, but her scope of work covers various parts of the world including Madagascar, Turkey, Bangladesh, Italy, Tunisia, Egypt, and the United States to name a few. Smith has combined her years of rich research and experience to share the history of cities in her newly published book that was released this month titled, Cities: The First 6,000 Years. In a recent correspondence with Smith she describes in her own words a brief comment about her book. She explains:

“This book explores what makes cities a compelling part of human life, and how over the past six thousand years they have become the dominant form of human settlement. The growth of cities wasn’t an easy process and those who live in cities find them challenging and exciting in equal measure. There is crowding, pollution, high prices, and traffic, but at the same time there are amazing job opportunities, educational and medical facilities, and the possibilities of entertainment ranging from major sports teams to museums, art galleries, and theaters. Cities are also places of much greater diversity, whether that’s ethnic diversity, migrant neighborhoods, or LGBTQ communities. Cities are places of great economic growth and they’re linked together into a global network of connected places.”

Dr. Smith offered additional insights and words of wisdom in a short series of questions about her book.

What inspired you to write your book, Cities: The First 6,000 Years?

I really enjoy teaching my classes “Cities Past and Present” and “Religion and Urbanism” within the Anthropology Department here at UCLA. And I am also an archaeologist who works on ancient urban centers in the Indian subcontinent. Those experiences, as well as my interest in contemporary cities (including our great city of LA!) provided the inspiration for the book. There are a lot of things about cities that we find challenging, but cities are growing larger and larger. My interest was in exploring the long continuity of city life from the very beginnings of urbanism starting six thousand years ago right through to the present and future.

How long did the process take to complete your book?

The Cities book was a sequel to a previous book that I wrote, A Prehistory of Ordinary People, which was published in 2010. Like most academic projects, there’s a kernel of an idea that starts long before we sit down to write a new book. But this one took a couple of years, which in terms of increments is not that much work – about a page a day, really, although some of those pages were rewritten many times to try and get it just right.

What were some of the challenges of writing and publishing?

I was very fortunate in having good prior experiences in public engagement such as through the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology’s annual Backdirt publication. And my colleague Jared Diamond (UCLA Geography) was very helpful in providing encouragement and suggestions. The publication staff and editors at Viking Press were amazing in their dedication to the book and in support of me as an author.

What was most enjoyable about writing this book?

As I wrote in the book’s acknowledgements, this book was really a pleasure to work on and something that I truly enjoyed doing. I’ve always been interested in examining archaeology beyond the perspective of palaces, kings, and queens, so it was an opportunity to think about how we can take evidence in the form of potsherds and ancient buildings to understand how ancient people felt about their cities and how those feelings are still part of our own urban lives.

What do you hope readers take from your book?

I enjoyed the idea of walking people through their own cities, so that they can be archaeologists too. There are the physical remains of our ancestors everywhere around us in every city; in Los Angeles, we have places like Olvera Street and Sawtelle Japantown and Bruce’s Beach. Once people start to look around at the palimpsests of the past in their own city, they can apply those skills to the places that they visit in their travels or the cities to which they relocate for work and family. Cities are remarkably similar in time and space, whether they are archaeological sites or living cities. And some places, like Rome and Mexico City, are ancient and modern all at the same time.

Any advice for others (students/professors) who want to write their own book?

Writing a book isn’t much different from writing a paper (a very long paper!).

How were you able to balance so many responsibilities in your personal life with family and as a professor, chair, director, as well as author a book?

As faculty, we are constantly writing in a variety of different formats, including writing research articles, grant proposals, conference papers, and letters of recommendation in support of students. So, writing a book gets folded into those other activities, and writing is a little bit like breathing: something that we do all the time. But I’ll admit that one of the things that gets cut in the balance of activities is keeping up with things like movies and TV, so I rely on my friends to keep me up to date on that!

How do you feel now that your book is out? How has it been received?

The publisher has been great about spreading the word, and the reviews in advance of publication have been beautiful. One thing that I really appreciated was the reviewers who found the book “humorous” which is not something that faculty often hear – it’s a great compliment. I hope that people enjoy reading it, even if they have time for just a chapter or two.

Definitively, Smith’s book has resonated with many people and has been recognized by other authors, archaeologists, colleagues, and publishing companies. Below are just a couple of praises Smith has received regarding her book. Zahi Hawass, author of Hidden Treasures of Ancient Egypt stated, “Cities captures the reality and stress of how we make cities and how, sometimes, cities make us. This is a must-read book for any city dweller with a voracious appetite for understanding the wonders of cities and why we’re so attracted to them.” Similarly, Publishers Weekly commented on Smith’s book saying it was, “[An] enjoyable, humorous combination of archeological findings, historical documents, and present-day experiences.” These are convincing reviews, so get the book and read it for yourself.

 

To read additional reviews and media coverage on Cities: The First 6,000 Years, check out these sites: Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Centre for Cities, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and The American Scholar.