Writing is an ancient technology, independently invented and forgotten in different times and places over human history. Some ancient scripts can now be read again, while others remain undeciphered – but what makes the difference between them? In this course, we will use the decipherment and interpretation of writing systems as a springboard to larger questions about knowledge and meaning: what signs are and how they work, how we “read” the world around us, and how (and whether) we can be confident that we know what we say we know. You will broaden your understanding of what writing is, the many social functions of script, and how we reason from signs to generalizations about the world. This course will prepare you to think about signs and signification in everyday life and the implicit and explicit role of communications technologies in shaping social realities.