SLC 591: How do we live now?: Social Theories and Everyday Lives


Course Description 

This class brings together recent influential approaches to social and cultural theory and asks what insights and illuminations these approaches can provide in a world where the grand ‘Theories’ of the postmodern may no longer be adequate. The discussions and readings of the class focus on work that directly confronts the challenges of life in the present moment: issues of ecologies and communities, racialized histories, violence, and socioeconomic precarities among others. Class assignments, including original research projects, encourage students to consider the role of such theoretical approaches in understanding their own lives and the social worlds that they inhabit and research. 

Course Objectives 

Through this course students will gain proficiency in core contemporary social theories and will  gain practice in applying these theoretical approaches to their own research areas. This class will  be taught in English. Application of the  

Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: 

clearly articulate and evaluate the main points of a theoretical argument relate it to other theoretical approaches using concrete examples. 

Students will also acquire practice experience in:  

selection of appropriate data for analysis 

argumentation using theory and social data 

integration of multiple theoretical approaches to construct a coherent argument 

Textbooks and Required Purchases 

All readings will be made on available on Canvas in pdf format.  

Course Assignments

Participation (30% of grade) 

In-class activities consist of instructor led class discussions. In-class discussions involve whole class and small-group discussion centered on analyzing assigned readings. You are expected to  be an active participant in class discussions, which means (among other things) answering  instructor questions, raising questions of your own, engaging with points raised by your  classmates, and developing your own analysis of the material. 

Participation is graded on a binary: either + (participated) or – (did not participate).  

Research Paper #1 (Class Book Report) (30% of the grade)  

You will pick a theoretical text that we haven’t discussed in class and present a ‘book report’ on  it to your classmates and also write a ‘critical review’ of the book. This book will be picked in consultation with me and so you must schedule a meeting with me to discuss possible books  by Thursday of Week 4. Together, we will find a book that meets the following requirements:  1. Was published in the last 20 years; 2. Offers a compelling theoretical framework; 3. Is  applicable to your research interests. 

This project consists of two parts: 1. In class presentation and 2. Hand-in assignment. 

The in-class presentation will do the following: discuss the text contents including the theoretical  framework and the data to which it is applied; evaluate the text in terms of its argumentation and  applicability to other research contexts. 

The critical review of the book will be at least 1500 words. It will do the following: discuss the  theoretical framework introduced in the text; relate the framework to other theoretical  approaches; evaluate the applicability and theoretical strength of the argumentation in the text.  

The in-class presentation will be on your presentation due date. The critical review of the book  will be handed in on the day of your presentation  

Research Paper #2 (40% of grade) 

The research paper asks you to apply at least one of the theoretical approaches discussed in class  to your own research context. It is broken up into three parts.  

Research Paper #2 (Theory in Practice) Annotated Bibliography (10% of grade) This part of the assignment involves you: deciding on a theoretical approach; reading articles and  books related to that approach; and writing up a bibliography that includes information about the  contents of each citation.  

We will discuss what an annotated bibliography looks like more fully in class.  Your annotated bibliography must include at least 7 academic sources. Your annotated bibliography is due on Thursday of Week 9 

Research Paper #2 (Theory in Practice) Draft (10% of grade) 

In this draft you will do the following: discuss the data that you will analyze; describe the  theoretical approach that you plan to follow; analyze your data using the theoretical framework 

you chose. A successful paper will: have a clear argument, provide evidence that supports your  argument, include a discussion of your argument that involves interpretation (not opinion).  

Your paper should be 3000 words, double spaced 12 point font, formatted using APA style. The  draft is due on Thursday of Week 11 

Research Paper #2 (Theory in Practice) Final (20% of grade) 

You will revise, expand, and polish your final paper in response to instructor feedback. The final version is due on Thursday of Week 14. 

Late or Missed Assignments 

For Research Papers (draft and final): If you are late in submitting a research paper (whether  draft or final) and have not cleared the late submission with me beforehand, you will earn a  penalty of -5% deducted from the paper grade per day late. This kicks in as soon as you miss the  deadline – so a paper submitted at 12:01 a.m. for an 11:59 p.m. deadline loses 5% right off the  bat. 

I will consider requests for deadline extensions IF you make the request at least 24 hours in  advance of the deadline. However, papers more than a week late receive no credit (grade of zero)  if you have not made prior arrangements with me. 

Revision and responding to feedback is a really important part of the writing process, so I will not accept (grade of zero) a final research paper if you have not previously submitted a draft. In  other words, you cannot skip the first draft and cut straight to submitting the final paper. 

Grade Appeals 

Grade disputes must first be addressed by discussing the situation with the instructor. If the  dispute is not resolved with the instructor, the student may appeal to the department chair per the  University Policy for Student Appeal Procedures on Grades

Drop/Add and Withdrawal Dates 

Be aware of course drop add deadlines. Consult with your academic advisor and notify your  instructor to add or drop this course. If you are considering a withdrawal, review the following  ASU policies: Withdrawal from Classes, Medical/Compassionate Withdrawal, and a Grade of  Incomplete

Course Schedule 

Modernities, Transnationalism and other Grounds  

Week 1: Modernities 

Tuesday Introduction 

Thursday Modernity at Large, Arjun Appadurai (selections) 

Week 2: Archives and Histories  

Tuesday Silencing the Past, Michel-Rolph Trouillet (Chapter 1, 5)  

Thursday Hegel, Haiti and University History, Susan Buck-Morss (Part 1) 

Topic: Bodies and Lifeways 

Week 3: Bodies and Biopolitics  

Tuesday The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry (selections) 

Thursday The Royal Remains, Eric L. Santner (Chapter 1, 4) 

Week 4: Communities and Exclusions 

Tuesday Homo Sacer, Giorgio Agamben (Part 1, 3) *This is a very challenging reading— please leave extra time to work through Agamben’s argumentation.  

Thursday The Inoperative Community, Jean-Luc Nancy (Chapter 1)  

Week 5: Intimate Publics and Visions of the Good Life 

Tuesday Cruel Optimism, Lauren Berlant (Chapter 1, 6, 7) 

Thursday Book Report Presentations 

Week 6: Language and Everyday Life  

Tuesday Life and Words: Violence and the descent into the ordinary, Veena Das (Chapter 1, 3)  

Thursday Book Report Presentations 


Week 7: Spaces and Spatialities  

Tuesday The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre (Chapter 2); For Space, Doreen Massey  (Part 1, 2)  

Thursday For Space, Doreen Massey (Parts 3-5)  

Week 8: Ecologies and Futures  

Tuesday Geontologies, Elizabeth Povinelli (Chapter 1, 6, 7)  

Thursday Staying with the Trouble, Donna J. Haraway (Chapter 1, 3) 

Week 9: Review and Reflection 

Tuesday Review: Questions and Stuck Points 

Thursday Final Projects and Research Methodologies  

Research Paper #2 Annotated Bibliography Due  


Week 10: Affect and Emotion 

Tuesday The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Sara Ahmed (Chapters 1-4) Thursday Movement, Affect, Sensation: Parables for the Virtual, Brian Massumi (Introduction, Chapter 1, 3) 

Technologies and ‘Other’ Spaces 

Week 11: Theories of the Material  

Tuesday The Enchantment of Modern Life, Jane Bennett (Chapter 1, 6)  Thursday The Mushroom at the End of the World, Anna Tsing (Prologue, Chapters 1-3, 4,  7-10)

Week 12: Ontologies of Technology  

Tuesday Gramaphone, Film and Typewriter, Frederich Kittler (Introduction, Film) Thursday It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, danah boyd (Chapter 1,  8) 

Research Paper #2 Draft Due 

Week 13: Ontologies of ‘Other Places’  

Tuesday Dreamworld and Catastrophe, Susan Buck-Morss (Part 1, 3) Thursday Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation, Deborah A. Thomas (Introduction,  Coda) 

Week 14: Presentations and Wrap-Up 

Tuesday Presentations 

Thursday Wrap-Up and Final Discussion  

Research Paper #2 Final Due 

Communication and Technology Requirements 

Your Canvas Email/Messages is an official means of communication among students, faculty,  and staff. Students are expected to read and act upon messages in a timely fashion. Students bear  the responsibility of missed messages and should check their ASU-assigned email regularly. All instructor correspondence will be sent to your ASU email account. 

This course requires a computer with Internet access and the following: 

Web browsers (Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari

Adobe Acrobat Reader (free) 

Adobe Flash Player (free) 

Webcam, microphone, headset/earbuds, and speaker 

Microsoft Office or Google Drive (Microsoft 365 and Google Drive are free for all  currently-enrolled ASU students) 

Reliable broadband internet connection (DSL or cable) to stream videos. 

Note: A smartphone, iPad, Chromebook, etc. may not be sufficient for completing your work in  ASU courses. While you will be able to access course content with mobile devices, you must use  a computer for all assignments, quizzes and exams, and virtual labs. 

Technical Support 

This course uses Canvas to deliver content. It can be accessed through MyASU at or the Canvas home page at To monitor the  status of campus networks and services, visit the System Health Portal at To contact the help desk, call toll-free at 1-855-278-5080. 


Regular attendance is essential to success in this class. Lectures provide information you cannot  get elsewhere and which will help you understand the readings, and you miss a major part of the  course if you are not present for discussions.

You are allowed up to THREE absences for any reason. You do not need to contact me if you  need to take one of these absences, though the courtesy is appreciated. 

More than three absences will result in a penalty applied to your final grade. This penalty is -2%  off for the fourth and each subsequent absence. So, for example, 6 absences results in -6% off  your final grade (3 excused, then 3x -2% = -6%), 9 absences results in -12% (3 excused, then 6x  -2% = -12%), and so on. 

I do take attendance, using an old-school attendance sheet. Please make sure to sign in during the  class session, or at the end if you came late (more than 10 mins late twice counts as one  absence). 

Students that need to be absent from class due to religious observances (ACD 304–04:  Accommodations for Religious Practices) or due to participation in university-sanctioned  activities (ACD 304–02: Missed Classes Due to University-Sanctioned Activities) should notify  the instructor at the beginning of the semester about the need to be absent from class and make  arrangements to make up missed assignments and in-class work. 

Academic Integrity 

Academic honesty is expected of all students in all examinations, papers, and laboratory work,  academic transactions and records. The possible sanctions include, but are not limited to,  appropriate grade penalties, course failure (indicated on the transcript as a grade of E), course  failure due to academic dishonesty (indicated on the transcript as a grade of XE), loss of  registration privileges, disqualification and dismissal from ASU. For more information, see

Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to: 


1. Using another writer’s words or ideas without citing the writer. 

2. Not using quotation marks and citing the source when you use other’s words and ideas; “others” includes your teachers, fellow students (lab reports, computer programs as well as papers), the Internet books, published papers, newspapers, and magazines. 

Double submission 

Submitting the same paper for two (or more) different classes, without permission from your professor(s). 

Inappropriate Collaboration 

1. Working with others when you should be doing the work individually. 

2. Not doing your share of work when assigned to a group project. 

Zero Tolerance at ASU and the Consequences of Cheating 

Cheating is not wise. ASU’s policy on cheating is zero tolerance. If you are caught cheating, you could face severe short-and-long term consequences, such as: 

Grades: You may fail the test or get a failing grade on the paper; you may fail the course.

“XE”: You may receive this grade on your transcript, signaling that you failed because  you cheated. It’s on your record! 

Suspension: You may be forced to leave the program (major) you are in and/or the  university. 

Accommodating Students with Disabilities 

Students who feel they will need disability accommodations in this class but have not registered  with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) should contact DRC immediately. The DRC Tempe  office is located on the first floor of the Matthew Center Building. DRC staff can also be reached  

at (480) 965-1234 (v) or (480) 965-9000 (TTY). For additional information visit:

Expected Classroom Behavior 

Recording any part of the class without the instructor’s express permission is prohibited. 

Laptops and tablets may be used to display course materials and for in-class exercises. Any other  use (shopping, social media, etc) is not permitted. Phones should be put away; they are a  distraction and not suitable for reading course materials. 

You may use personal computers or tablet computers to display course materials for class discussion or for in-class work as directed by the instructor but NOT for any other purpose – Facebook, Twitter, or whatever – during class. It distracts both you and your classmates.  Similarly, no cellphones out during class, please – aside from the potential to distract you, I  really do not recommend trying to read course texts on a cellphone. 

If students are asked to participate in a synchronous meeting via a video conferencing  application, students are expected to use their web cameras so they can be seen. Students should  ensure that background noises and distractions are removed (food, TVs, music, other people in  the room). Students should dress appropriately for this academic meeting. They should  remember that any inappropriate distracting behavior via a virtual meeting will be dealt with in  the same manner as in the physical classroom. 

Policy Against Threatening Behavior 

All incidents and allegations of violent or threatening conduct by an ASU student (whether on or  off campus) must be reported to the ASU Police Department (ASU PD) and the Office of the  Dean of Students. If either office determines that the behavior poses or has posed a serious threat  to personal safety or to the welfare of the campus, the student will not be permitted to return to  campus or reside in any ASU residence hall until an appropriate threat assessment has been  completed and, if necessary, conditions for return are imposed. ASU PD, the Office of the Dean  of Students, and other appropriate offices will coordinate the assessment in light of the relevant  circumstances. 

Reporting Title IX Violations 

Title IX is a federal law that provides that no person be excluded on the basis of sex from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity. Both Title IX and university policy make clear that sexual violence and

harassment based on sex is prohibited. An individual who believes they have been subjected to sexual violence or harassed on the basis of sex can seek support, including counseling and academic support, from the university. If you or someone you know has been harassed on the basis of sex or sexually assaulted, you can find information and resources at ( 

As a mandated reporter, I am obligated to report any information I become aware of regarding alleged acts of sexual discrimination, including sexual violence and dating violence. ASU Counseling Services,, is available if you wish discuss any concerns confidentially and privately. ASU online students may access 360 Life Services,

Policy on Sexual Discrimination 

Arizona State University is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination,  harassment, or retaliation for the entire university community, including all students, faculty  members, staff employees, and guests. ASU expressly prohibits discrimination, harassment, andretaliation by employees, students, contractors, or agents of the university based on any protected  status: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation,  gender identity, and genetic information. 

Copyrighted materials 

All content in this course, including video lectures/meetings, presentations, assignments,  discussions, quizzes, and exams is protected by copyright and may not be shared, uploaded, sold,  or distributed. 

Students must refrain from uploading or submitting material that is not the student's original  work to any website, course shell, or discussion used in this course or any other course unless the  students first comply with all applicable copyright laws. Instructors reserve the right to delete  materials on the grounds of suspected copyright infringement. Any recording of class sessions by  students is prohibited, except as part of an accommodation approved by the Disability Resource  Center. 

Syllabus Disclaimer 

The syllabus is a statement of intent and serves as an implicit agreement between the instructor  and the student. Every effort will be made to avoid changing the course schedule but the  possibility exists that unforeseen events will make syllabus changes necessary. Please remember  to check your ASU email and the course site often.