ANT 393 • Fundamentals of Language in Context
10:00 AM-1:00 PM
This course is an intensive introduction to the study of language as a cultural system and speech as socially embedded communicative practice. It is the core course for students wishing to take further coursework in linguistic anthropology, and is also suitable for those wishing to gain enough background in theories of language to critically understand the place of language in recent social thought. It is designed for graduate students; upper level undergraduates are welcome to enroll, with permission of the instructor. There are no special prerequisites. Topics include linguistic structure, its relation to other sign systems, speech acts and "performativity," approaches to context, varieties of interaction, language in historical research and basic elements of a practice approach to language. We will do close readings of Saussure, Austin, Boas, Sapir, Benveniste, Chomsky, Merleau Ponty, Voloshinov, Bourdieu, and Goffman, among others.
The course will meet once weekly, with roughly 30% of class time devoted to lectures and the remainder to discussion. Grades will be based on participation, a short essay in week 8 and a final essay of no more than 20 pages double spaced at the end of the semester. Each member of the seminar will lead discussion for one period (probably an hour), either alone or working with another. Discussion leaders prepare a terse written summary of the relevant readings (4-5 pages), which is copied and distributed to the seminar. The written summary is also turned in as a piece of written work. The idea is that by the end of the semester, everyone will have written and lead discussions, and everyone will have a file of well crafted resumés of the readings, to complement their notes.