Graduate Courses

We offer a range of courses each year designed to train and prepare students to engage in theoretically informed and methodologically sophisticated research.

The following courses have been taught in the past five years. View the full course calendar.

ARCH 6000. Theory and Method in the study of Archaeology and Prehistory. A seminar course focussing on recent theoretical and methodological developments in archaeological research. CR: the former ARCH 6411.

ARCH 6095. Advanced Studies in Ethnohistory. (same as Hist 6095). This course will be taught in a lecture format and will trace the ethnohistory of North American Native peoples from European contact to the loss of their independence. The course will focus upon Northeastern North America from what is now New York-New England, to the eastern Arctic, although examples from further south will also be discussed. For most of the peoples studied, the time frame will encompass the period from about 1500 to the end of the 18th century. In the case of the eastern Arctic and Subarctic, the time period will extend to the 19th century.

ARCH 6151. Paleoethnobotany. A directed readings/laboratory course concerning the recovery and analysis of archaeobotanical remains. Readings will focus on recent advances in paleoethnobotanical research. The laboratory component will involve the identification and interpretation of recently recovered specimens from an archaeological site in the Atlantic region. Each student will expected to compile an annotated bibliography based on assigned readings and produce a short research report based on laboratory work.

ARCH 6187. Readings in Maritime Provinces Prehistory. A directed readings course on the prehistory of the Maritime Provinces and adjacent areas of Maine. Selected topics that will include (1) aspects of the regional geology that are relevant to cultural adaptation in this region (e.g., glacial retreat and changes in climate, forest regimes and sea level) (2) the earliest human presence in the region and evidence for megafauna exploitation (3) the diversity of Archaic Indian cultures in the region in terms of their distribution, interactions, technology and social systems (4) biological anthropology of the prehistoric native populations (5) the potential of prehistoric shell midden sites as sources of information on maritime adaptation, site seasonality and dietary composition (6) the transition from Late Archaic to Early Ceramic, in terms of significant changes in subsistence practices and technology and (7) the prehistoric roots of sociopolitical organization and cultural complexity among the protohistoric and historic Micmac.

ARCH 6409. History of Science and Archaeology. This course consists of an intensive study of the emergence and maturation of archaeology as a discipline within the social sciences, particularly in North America and Western Europe, in the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, a number of archaeologists have suggested that the history of science can play a major role in understanding archeological practice. In particular, they have argued that debates on history and philosophy of science can provide archaeologists with a basis for discussing epistemological problems related to the interpretation of archaeological data. Accordingly, this course is designed to provide graduate students with an introduction to the history and philosophy of science. The first part of the course is devoted to exploring some of the concepts, ideas and debates that have shaped the history and philosophy of science during the last sixty years. This part is conceived as a specialized introduction to a number of historiographical and philosophical notions, such as ‘presentism’, ‘internalism’, ‘externalism’, ‘paradigm’, and ‘hermeneutics’. This survey prepares the ground for discussing a number of historical and epistemological issues in terms with which archaeology students are familiar. In the second part of the course, we will examine a number of philosophical and historiographical topics (ethics, agency, narratives) that have attracted increasing interest among archaeologists.

ARCH 6680-6699. Special Topics in Archaeology and Prehistory.

ARCH 6680. Space, Place and Landscape. Explores recent archaeological approaches to past spatial practises, experiences, and meanings, especially as framed in recent years as elements of a landscape archaeology, and from both quantitative and interpretive perspectives.

ARCH 6682. Advances in Environmental Archaeology. Introduces students to the main concepts, methods, theoretical approaches and applications of Environmental Archaeology through an exploration of themes of broad and current interest that reflect the multifaceted and interdisciplinary nature of the field. The course explores how the data produced, and interpretations advances, by environmental archaeologists can enhance our understanding of the role(s) played by human activity in shaping past and present landscapes and ecosystems.

ARCH 6684. Archaeology as Long-term History. ***Course description forthcoming***

ARCH 6685. When Worlds Meet: Nature/Culture and Ontological Conflicts. The nature/culture divide is one of the most basic assumptions grounding modern science and politics. As such, in the past and still in the present, this ontological divide has been key on how we (so-called moderns) conceive the world and our relations to other humans as well as non-humans. In recent years, a number of developments have problematized this modern ontological divide as well as a whole series of binary oppositions spanning from it, such as subject/object, representation/represented, mind/body and so on. The emphases of the discussions have been on as diverse topics as the concrete issues where the problems with the nature/culture divide become evident such as human/non-human relations; the ‘imbroglios’ of nature-culture like climate change that are produced by technology; shifting notions of personhood; the status of ‘things,’ substance and property; the reconceptualization of society and nature as seamless socionatural orders; and the problems that all this poses for political and scientific representation to mention a few. In this course we will explore: a) the developments that are putting into question the modern ontological divide between nature and culture , b) the implications that these developments have for scientific and political practices and, c) emerging attempts at understanding ontological multiplicity and conflicts as a central feature of the present moment.

ARCH 6686. Archaeology of the Body. Building from foundational theory relating to practice, biopolitics, phenomenology, and performance, this course explores recent archaeological approaches to such aspects of embodied experience as violence, sexuality, the life course, body modification, sensing, hybridity, things and disability.

ARCH 6687. Applied Archaeological Sciences. Applied archaeological sciences introduces graduate students to a broad range of natural science methods in archaeology, with a specific focus on the integration of natural science into archaeological research design, and the role of science in archaeology from an historical perspective. Specific topics include: palaeodiet, migration, artifact sourcing and palaeoclimate as understood through geochemical and micro-analytical techniques.

ARCH 6688. Archaeology of Ethnicity. Ethnicity is a primary construct in archaeology, used to associate the objects and features we recover with particular groups or archaeological cultures. But we continue to understand ethnicity in new ways. Once used for little more than assigning diachronic culture boundaries, today we strive to comprehend the entire process of identity making, and sometimes, unmaking. We now perceive ethnicity as a complex process. It is fluid, contested, constructed, masked, emergent and contextualized by situated historical processes. Drawing on multiple case-studies, this course will address the numerous theoretical and methodologies frameworks that archaeologist have used to explore ethnicity, and the political manifestations of this research.

ARCH 6700-6701. Interpretative Methods in Archaeology and Interpretive Methods in Historical Archaeology. The Archaeology Unit requires graduate students to complete one of these seminar courses that feature the interpretative methods applicable to the two major subfields of prehistoric and historical archaeology. Archaeologists have developed a wide variety of methods for making sense of archaeological data. The latter includes raw empirical data on artifacts, ecofacts, human remains, features, and components, as well as the classes defined by these data, such as artifact types, minimum numbers of individuals, and numbers of inferred vessels. Interpretative methods allow the archaeologist to move from these data to a consideration of past populations, site formation, and past environments; from components to archaeological cultures; features and activity areas to settlement and mobility patterns; bones, seeds, and residues to past diet, and artifacts and human remains to behaviour and ideology.