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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Spring 2009

ANT 310L • Literature and Ethnography-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29805 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM

Course Description

"Whatever use ethnographic texts will have in the future&it will involve enabling conversations across societal linesof ethnicity, religion, class, gender, language, racethat have grown progressively more nuanced, more immediate, and more irregular." -Clifford Geertz Geertz, one of the founders of the interpretivist school of anthropology, said that doing good ethnography is just like writing good literature. In this class, we'll explore the similaritiesand differencesbetween ethnographic and literary uses of narrative, especially as they both try to enable conversations across societal lines. We will start by reading traditional ethnographic texts and move toward more experimental ones. We will also read works of fiction that systematically represent a culture. In fact, many of the texts well read blur the lines between the ethnographic and the literary, as in works of fiction written by trained anthropologists and experimental ethnographic texts that weave local literatures and personal reflection into their write-ups. Themes we may explore include: How do ethnographic and literary narratives construct the Other? What is the role of the narrators voice in establishing the authority of a cultural representation? What makes a narrative generalizable across cultural contexts? Do narrative forms tend to reproduce thinking already present in the authors culture? Or, can narrative forms enable one culture to understand another in deep and powerful ways?

Grading Policy

Class Participation 20% Informal Assignments 20% Paper 1 20% Paper 2 20% Paper 3 20%


Texts Possible literary texts to include: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Mules and Men Selections from Charles Bukowski Selections from ethnographic texts to include: James P. Spradley, You Owe Yourself a Drunk: An Ethnography of Urban Nomads Renato Rosaldo, "Grief and a Headhunter's Rage" Ruth Behar, The Vulnerable Observer; Anthropology that Breaks Your Heart


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