Silence is a central element of social life, but it has rarely been the focus of explicit research and theory. This may reflect a conception of silence as “absence,” or mere ground for figures of speaking, utterance, and noise. This course reverses these conceptions: Silence is a presence, and a figure emerging from grounds of speech, utterance, and noise. It is also the result of a complex social process–silencing– whose antecedents and consequences we will examine as well. Much of the reading will be drawn from work in social psychology, psychology, and sociology. Other material will come from the anthropological and historical literature, and the mass media. Students write either one or two papers, and each paper must present the results of original research. Students will also maintain a journal on: (1) annotated bibliographic references; (2) specific examples of “noticeable silences”; and (3) specific examples of “broken silences”.