Linus Owens
Office
Munroe Hall 410
Tel
(802) 443-5724
Email
lowens@middlebury.edu

Linus Owens thinks about movements, places, and the conflicts that bring them together and push them apart. In past work, he has brought these interests together in exploring how anarchists organize online and the place-making and storytelling practices of squatters in Amsterdam. He always seems to be teaching new classes, leaving a long list of former classes in his wake; these include courses on social theory, social movements, disasters, cities, globalization, the environment, tourism, and even a class on performance and the body.

His books include both academic – Cracking Under Pressure: Narrating Decline in the Amsterdam Squatters’ Movement (Amsterdam University Press & Penn State University Press, 2009) – and popular – Lost in the Supermarket: An Indie Rock Cookbook (Soft Skull Press, 2008). At the moment, he is working on several exciting new projects, including work on how cameras and masks interact to produce a visual language of political protest, a cultural history of Halloween, and, finally, the complicating ways that activists incorporate travel, movement, and space into their protest tactics. Still, he remains true to his academic and political roots, as a founding member of a European syndicate of researchers working on and with squatting movements, as well as an active participant in the North American Anarchist Studies Network.

Professor Owens hasn’t always taught at Middlebury. He used to teach at Wesleyan University.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

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Course Description

Terms Taught

Winter 2020

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Course Description

Society and the Individual
This course examines the ideas and enduring contributions of the giants of modern social theory, including Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Sigmund Freud. Readings will include selections from original works, as well as contemporary essays. Key issues will include the nature of modernity, the direction of social change, and the role of human agency in constructing the "good society." This course serves as a general introduction to sociology. (formerly SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2023

Requirements

SOC

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Course Description

The City and Its People
We all live somewhere, and increasingly we find ourselves living in an urban environment. In this course we will explore current topics in urban sociology, with particular emphasis on the power of place, culture, and community in U.S. cities. We will study the historical, cultural, and political conditions that have shaped contemporary U.S. cities, such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We will examine how cities change and resist change through the lens of such subjects as migration, poverty, urban arts, crime, and education as it pertains to the city. Students will read a variety of ethnographic and sociological materials, in order to gain an understanding of the complexities of both urban life and processes of representation. (formerly SOAN 0235) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2024

Requirements

AMR, NOR, SOC

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Course Description

Visual Sociology
We live in a visual world. To understand society and culture, we must understand the images we produce and consume. This course provides a sociological lens to study how we use and are used by images. We will study key theories that frame how visual contents (such as photographs, films, and videos) are shared, viewed, and interpreted by various audiences. Using images as our starting point, we will analyze the messages and imagery in visual texts to extract their social meanings. We will engage three sides of visual sociology: images as cultural artifacts, picture making as data collection, and displaying research visually. (Sociology) (Juniors and Seniors by permission only) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

SOC

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Course Description

Social Theory
This course provides an overview of major lines of development in 20th century social theory relevant to the field of sociology, focusing on how various theorists have grappled with the basic issues that have dominated 20th century social thought. Particular attention will be given to the questions arising from the conceptual distinctions between structure and action, on the one hand, and identity and culture, on the other. How is social order possible? How autonomous are human agents? How do we explain the persistence of observed patterns of human interaction and social practice? How do we analyze relations between the world of everyday life and the large-scale development of social systems? How does social change take place? (SOCI 0105) (formerly SOAN 0305) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

SOC

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Course Description

Social Movements and Collective Action
An analysis of the range of factors which influence the emergence and development of social protest, social movements, rebellion, and revolution. Topics to be considered include: the generation and mobilization of discontent; recruitment and participation; member commitment; tactics and strategy; revolutionary situations and outcomes; collective violence; and the factors that influence the success and failure of movement organizations and collective action in general. Emphasis will be placed on critically analyzing alternative approaches and theories of social movements and collective action (i.e., self-interest/deprivation, participation gratification, traditional collective behavior and resource mobilization). Empirical studies will be used throughout the course. Limited places available for students to satisfy the College writing requirement. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

SOC

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Course Description

The Long Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement is one of the most significant political forces in American history, but too often we reduce it to its heyday in the 1950s and 60s. In this course we engage a much longer, more varied history of African American freedom struggles, from protests against segregated trains in the late 19th century to today’s #BlackLivesMatter. We use social movement theory to explore these cases, and use the cases to develop new theories of politics and social structure, paying close attention to the roles of organizations, resources, leadership, recruitment, commitment, values, ideology, culture, gender, and counter-movements. (SOCI 0105, or permission) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, NOR, SOC

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Course Description

The Continuing Significance of Race in the United States
This course will introduce students to theories of race and racism in the United States, how racial categories are formed and maintained in a variety of social arenas, and how race and racism influence social systems. In order to demonstrate the prevalence of race and racism in the U.S., the course will be a “topics” course in that each week, we will explore a different topic (such as education, crime, gender) and examine how they are influenced by race and racism. In addition, the course will compare and contrast the experiences of different racial and ethnic groups in the United States and examine how these different experiences influences the way they are seen, how they see themselves, and how they interact with other groups. Upon completion of the course, students will have a better understanding of the historic and contemporary significance of race and how race influences our everyday interactions in multiple different social arenas. (formerly SOAN 0356) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

AMR, CMP, SOC

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Course Description

Digital Sociology
We live in a digital world. We surf. We tweet. We swipe left. We create data. We become data. In this course we will consider how we use and are used by digital technologies. Digital spaces are neither neutral nor separate; they reflect and recreate the “real world.” We will critically examine today’s technologies and practices using central concepts in sociological theory, namely identity, inequality, and power. We will focus on four main topics: social media and productive labor; surveillance and privacy; stratification in access, use, and experience across race, class, gender, and sexuality; and online political organizing. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2023

Requirements

SOC

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Course Description

Stuff: A Sociology of Things
Stuff surrounds us. It fills our lives and makes our lives more fulfilling. We make it, we break it. We love it, we hate it. Then we throw it away. But stuff can just as easily make us and break us. Yet, sociology rarely pays much attention to things. In this course we will uncover and study the surprisingly active social lives of objects. Drawing broadly from work on material culture, cultural studies, consumption studies, and critical theory, we will explore the complex meanings of objects, the relationships people form with them, and the ways they shape how we think and what we do. Students will learn object-based research methods to investigate the social meanings and uses of everyday objects.

Terms Taught

Spring 2024

Requirements

SOC

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Course Description

Prior to registering for SOCI 0500, a student must enlist the support of a faculty advisor from the Department of Sociology. (Open to Majors only) (Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Winter 2024, Spring 2024

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Course Description

One-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a student will carry out an independent, one-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 25-40 pages, due the last day of classes.

Terms Taught

Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Fall 2023, Winter 2024, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Multi-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a senior will carry out an independent multi-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 60-100 pages, due either at the end of the Winter Term or the Friday after spring break.

Terms Taught

Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Fall 2023, Winter 2024, Spring 2024

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