Marci Cottingham joined the Department of Sociology at Kenyon in 2022. Cottingham's research examines the relationship between emotions, social life, and inequalities, including how emotions are shaped by social hierarchies (class, gender, race), occupations and digital media. Her past projects have looked at the emotional payoff of sports fandom, the emotional demands of nursing, the experiences of healthy volunteers in clinical trials, and humor practices on Twitter.

Prior to joining Kenyon, Cottingham was an associate professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam and a fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany from 2019 - 2020.

Her book, "Practical Feelings," was published in 2022 with Oxford University Press. 

Areas of Expertise

Emotion, Inequalities, Health & Healthcare


2013 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Akron

Courses Recently Taught

This course introduces students to the discipline of sociology, defining what society and culture are and how they relate to individuals. We start with foundational concepts, theories and methods, using empirical applications throughout the course to bring the topic to life. With social life disrupted by COVID-19, the pandemic is a window into understanding societies and culture around the world. The society and culture in which we are raised is often the most difficult to analyze — we have internalized them so well, we forget having learned them. Students are encouraged to step outside of their own assumptions, values and taken-for-granted practices. Research from the U.S. and around the world can help us see what is strange about the society we inhabit and what is familiar about “other” cultures and societies. Finally, students learn about the various research methods used in sociology as well as how research findings are represented in news media. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation requirement for the major. No prerequisites.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated what health scholars have long argued — that the health of one is inherently interconnected with the health of others, including those in one’s neighborhood, country and global community. Despite this unprecedented moment, fundamental questions remain about what it means to be healthy, who decides and how we measure health. What is health and its relationship to the good life? Why is everyone from Dr. Oz to Gwyneth Paltrow seemingly obsessed with the promise of good health? How do social structures impact health, leading to hidden advantages for some and suffering for others? And perhaps most salient to this moment — how do people respond to public-health threats and how might we create better policies in light of these responses? We start with basic questions about the relevance, definition and measurement of health before turning to more specific questions about what shapes health, how health varies across groups and how professionals and interventions try to improve physical, emotional and mental well-being. Throughout the course, we turn to empirical research — both quantitative and qualitative — to understand how social forces shape health and what can be done to improve it. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course.

This mid-level course will explore the methods that sociologists use to study popular culture and media products, and will examine the connections of popular culture and media to broader social patterns within American society. Course material will cover a range of subjects, including movies, television, the news, novels, and advertising. Students will become familiar with several approaches to the study of popular culture and mass media, and examine what these cultural products can reveal about social norms, trends, and relationships. In addition to empirical assessments of the content of cultural products, the course will examine the institutional structures that shape their production and distribution, as well as patterns of audience consumption and interpretation. This work will culminate with the opportunity to design a research project that uses sociological methods to critically interpret and analyze popular culture products. Prerequisite: foundation course in sociology or permission of instructor.

Contemporary social theory provides the tools needed to explain, dispute and re-imagine the social worlds we inhabit. The course is divided into three main units with three overarching questions: What is reality, and how do we know it? How does society shape the self, and how does the self shape society? How do we theorize the human and non-human? In the first unit, students engage with debates about how knowledge is partial, situated and constructed, and the implications of these views. The second unit turns to work on interaction and rituals, performativity and identity, how power operates in contemporary society, and what a social practice approach offers for explaining the link between social and individual practices. The final unit covers work on the interface of the human and non-human and its implications for theorizing technology, the environment and human agency. Students are encouraged to propose new questions and new answers about how the social world works. This counts toward the theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: SOCY 262 or permission of instructor. Offered every year.

This course is for advanced students. See online searchable schedule for further description. Prerequisites: permission of instructor and department chair.