Valentine's Day is around the corner and the nation will once again spend a day focusing on matters of the heart. But for one group of Hopkins students, spending a single day on the subject of love is simply not enough. They want to talk about it all semester.
Hopkins anthropologist Sonia Ryang, above, was expecting about 30 undergraduates to sign up for her course The Anthropology of Love. Instead, some 160 students showed up for the first session, forcing Ryang to divide the class into four sections and collect a few extra teaching assistants to help accommodate the unexpectedly large class.
Ryang, a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the University of Tokyo, began teaching at Hopkins last semester. She is the author of North Koreans in Japan: Language, Ideology and Identity (1997 Westview Press), as well as numerous articles and essays on subjects including ethnicity in Japan, Koreans living in Japan, and gender and immigration issues.
Lately she's been focusing some of her time on examining from an anthropological context different understandings of love in a variety of cultures. Judging from the reaction to her class, her interest is catching on.
"I was not expecting there to be such a response to this course,"
says Ryang. "I haven't yet figured out the reason for it, other
than perhaps they want to understand the concept of love better,
for personal reasons. I just hope they're not expecting advice."