GRADUATE THEORY SEMINAR SOC 7210/8210

Professor: Carol Rambo, Ph.D.
Office: Clement 225
Phone: 678-2610, 678-2611 for messages
E-mail: crambo@midsouth.rr.com Best way by far to stay in touch with me!

PURPOSE OF COURSE

The purpose of the course is to lay down a foundational grid-work from which a seminar participant may extrapolate an overview of the possibilities of sociology as a discipline, and to provide a sampling of theories from classical traditional thought up through contemporary thought. There is, regrettably, no way to acquaint you, in one semester, with all of the possibilities which exist in sociological theory. Hopefully, as you encounter theory in your substantive area course work (for example, Deviance, Gender, Family, and Religion), the foundations acquired in this course will become more clear and solidified. Likewise, the materials encountered here should aid you in mastering your other course work. I will spend a great deal of time in this course encouraging you to move beyond the mere memorization of the content of a theory. Our purpose will be to learn how to apply the ideas creatively to explain real world experiences, social facts, and social institutions. Towards this end, emphasis will be placed on how to write a thesis or a publishable journal article, highlighting theory as the core organizational scheme.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

#Keep current with the readings.
#Regular attendance and participation in seminar discussions. I keep notes on each individual.
#One theory lecture for the class.
#Ten short (3-4 page) papers criticizing or applying the ideas in the readings from the list below. I consider a page to be 250 words. This is typically accomplished by using a 10 or 12-point font and one inch margins. I will count off if you are consistently too brief. I reserve the right to retroactively mark down a paper grade based on being consistently too brief (see comments regarding folders below). Your final grade will be an average of your best 10 paper grades. I use the following scale:

A+ = 15 points
A = 14 points
A- = 13 points
B+ = 12 points
B = 11 points
B- = 10 points
C+ = 9 points
C = 8 points
C- = 7 points
Etc.

You must attend class to be permitted to hand in a paper. You may not send it in with a classmate nor stick it in my box or under my door and expect to receive credit. You may not attend part of the class and expect to be allowed to hand in a paper. If you need to leave early once or show up late once, pre-arrange it with me and/or get me documentation regarding it. I don't mean to be an ogre, but these things get abused and it is not fair to the students who are working hard and following the rules.

There is no term paper or final exam. There are a total of 12 opportunities to do papers. You may choose to do all 12 and take the 10 best grades or hand in 10 only. If you hand in all of your papers before the end of the semester, and have a satisfactory grade, it is not considered polite to "blow off" your last class periods and not attend. We love having you present and consider your contributions to class discussion valuable, particularly if you are bright enough to finish and make a great grade early.

Very Important: For every paper missing by the final day of class, one letter grade will be taken off of your final grade. For instance if you have an A+ average, but only handed in 9 papers, you will receive a B+ for the course. There will be no exceptions to this.

#I request that you purchase a folder with pockets (themes are fine, have fun, Star Wars, Power Puff Girls, blank is good too) and:

1. Be ready to hand in your current weeks assignment in the left pocket of the folder.
2. Keep all of your graded papers in the right pocket of the folder. They come back to me each week I request you hand in all your papers.

I will request the folders at random, not weekly, because I realize you need time with your papers to digest the feedback. During these random requests I will look at your over all progress, AND I will check to see if you are consistently handing in papers that are too brief. For instance, lets say you handed in 1 paper that was 2.5 pages, but you did a great job. All the rest were between 3 and 4 pages. I have no interest in counting off for that. If, however, I notice a pattern whereby you consistently hand in 2.5, 2.7, and an occasional 3 pager, I will go back to those original papers and mark down for it. Always skating by with only the minimum is not acceptable. These readings are stimulating enough that you should be able to write volumes and, if anything, we should have the problem of you writing too much and needing to edit it down to something manageable.

READINGS
Purchase where you usually buy your books, Campus or Tiger. You may want to consider going online, as well, to something like Amazon.com. Often Amazon will ship for free with orders over $25.00. This in no way is an endorsement of the corporation Amazon.com; I'm just trying to figure out how we can get the job done without lightening your bank account too much! Students are encouraged to scheme or otherwise get creative (but not break the law) to obtain their readings.


Required
#The Discovery of Society, seventh edition, Randall Collins and Michael Makowsky, Pub. McGraw Hill, ISBN 0-07-011883-3
#Readings in Contemporary Social Theory, Donald McQuarie, Pub. Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-104266-1
#Foucault for Beginners, Lydia Alex Fillingham, Pub. Writers and Readers Limited, ISBN 0-86316-160-X
#Postmodernism for Beginners, Jim Powell, Pub. Writers and Readers Limited, ISBN 0-86316-188-x
#Derrida for Beginners, Jim Powell, Pub. Writers and Readers Limited, ISBN 0-86316-139-1
# The McDonaldization of Society: Revised New Century Edition, George Ritzer, Pine Forge Press, ISBN 0-7619-8812-2
#Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Erving Goffman, Simon and Schuster, 0-617-62244-7
#Writing for the Social Scientist, Howard Becker, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-04108-5

Not Required Reading/optional (but it may be very helpful for subsequent assignments).
#The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler, Atlantic Monthly Press, ISBN 0-87113-888-3

VERY TENTATIVE CLASS OUTLINE

Can and often is changed at Professor's Discretion your absence does NOT constitute an excuse for not being up on the readings!!! Meanwhile, it is my intent to keep everyone updated through email.

August 30th
#Discuss Class structure.
#Discuss writing.
#What is Sociology? What is Theory? What role does theory play in Sociology? Expectations?
#Pick a Theorist for your "In Class Lecture" AKA Theory Jam, due in 2 weeks. You may get started early, but I won't give out the full assignment until next time.
#Watch Movie in Class.
#Don't discuss movie with classmates-- AT ALL. Don't google the movie, yet. These things will spoil your experience.
HOMEWORK-Paper Opportunity 1.
Write a 3 - 4 page paper that is your reaction to the movie. After you have written your paper, you may google the movie, and, if you choose, write more. Come to class next time prepared to discuss it.

September 6th
#More theory discussion.
#Discuss reactions to movie.
#Share papers.
#Flesh out "Theory Jam." Reading James Howard Kunstler's "The Long Emergency," may prove useful but in no way is it required.
#Carol gives example.
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 2
1. Create a 30 or so minute talk on your theorist. Create a Handout for your classmates and me outlining basic terms and concepts and email it to us on or before September 12th. Leave room on the handout for us to make notes. Use "The Discovery of Society," or "Readings in Contemporary Social Theory," as resources for info on your theorist, if applicable. You may use other resources as well. At the end of your talk, incorporate a discussion regarding how you believe your theorist would interpret the arguments made in the movie. In other words, how would your theorist "frame" or apply their ideas to the movie. Does your theorist have any ideas at all that are useful towards understanding/explaining the movie?
2. Write a 3 - 4 page paper regarding how your theorist would interpret the arguments made in the movie. This paper is not due until September 20th.
3. Print and bring handouts to class on September 13th so that you may take notes while your classmates lecture.

September 13th
Theory Jam

September 20th
Theory Jam
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 3
Read Howard Becker, 1986, "Writing for the Social Scientist" University of Chicago Press. Write a thoughtful response paper to the book. Consider your two writing experiences so far, reacting to the movie and writing about the movie from the point of view of one of your theorists. Were they similar? Different? Do any of Becker's ideas about writing apply to your experience? Bring 2 copies of your paper to class, one with your name on it, and one without any identifiers, if possible. Be prepared to discuss the book and the experience of writing.

September 27th
Hand in papers in 2 piles. Distribute papers for editing. In class writing assignment. Discuss writing as cultural transmission, identity claim, communication, and connection.
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 4
Read "The McDonaldization of Society," and pick one of the following paper topics:
1. How would Ritzer react to or frame the movie we saw on the first day?
2. How did Ritzer use sociological theory to create and frame his ideas about McDonaldization?
3. What else has been McDonaldized that Ritzer has not discussed in his book? Show it applying his arguments. You may take this from your personal experience, if you like.
4. How might other theorists we have discussed in class so far, react to Ritzer's concept of McDonaldization?

October 4th
Exploring McDonaldization. Discuss the four homework assignments and the book in general.
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 5
Seemingly radical shift, but not really. Read "Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity," by Erving Goffman and the Carol Rambo Ronai and Rabecca Cross article to be handed out in class. Reading 25 in Donald McQuarie's reader is optional. Write a paper applying any of these ideas to something you are aware of or something in your personal life.

October 11th
Explore the idea of identity as something to be negotiated with self and others. Discuss life history interviewing. Carol bores you with some stuff from her ancient dissertation or from a current paper she is writing if it is ready at this time.
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 6
Read Lydia Alix Fillingham, 1993, Foucalt for Beginners. Writers and Readers Publishing, and Foucault reading from Farganis. Carol needs to hand this one out. Write an application paper, critique paper, or a compare/contrast paper.

October 18th
Fall break. Me, I'm in Australia unless the Northwest Airline strike screws it up!!

October 25th
Discussion Topic, "How is Normalcy a tool of oppression?" Foucaulting around in class. Hand out Carol's stuff on Derrida to be read for next time.
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 7
Read the comic book by Jim Powell, 1997, "Derrida for Beginners." Writers and Readers Publishing, inc. Read original Derrida at your own risk. Read Carol's Derrida stuff. Write an application paper, critique paper, or a compare/contrast paper using Derrida's ideas.

November 1st
Discussion Topic, "Ambiguity, does it make any diff'erance, and other non-concepts." Again Carol bores you with some stuff she published or from another current paper she is writing if it is ready at this time.
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 8
Habermas reading, number 14 in Donald McQuarie's reader. Habermas reading 274-281 in "Discovery of Society." Write an application paper, critique paper, or a compare/contrast paper.

November 8th
Lecture/discussion Habermas and Marcuse (if Marcuse has not been done already).
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 9
Read the comic book by Jim Powell, 1998, Postmodernism for Beginners and Reading number 38 (Denzin) and 39 (Seidman) in Donald McQuarie's reader.

November 15th
Discussion Topic, "What does decentering Authority mean?"
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 10
Carol needs to hand out readings on Subjectivity, Introspection, etc. Remind me. Respond to what you read from a theoretical standpoint. Is it science, is it sociology, is it post modern, does it matter? Do we give a rats heiny?

November 22nd
Discussion Topic, Subjectivity, Introspection, and Autoethnography: Is it science, is it sociology, is it postmodern, does it matter?
HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 11
Create your own artful ethnography. Be sure to incorporate a theory spin.

November 29th
Read/perform your artful ethnography. I promise you, this should be intense!!!

HOMEWORK- Paper Opportunity 12
Will assign in class.

December 6th
Hand in notebooks with all papers. What is Sociology? What is Theory? What role does Theory play in Sociology? What are your expectations for the role it will play in your career? In your life?