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

Fall 2005

ANT 307 • Culture & Communication-Honors-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28500 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
UTC 3.120

Course Description

Why do we humans sometimes not say what we mean and sometimes not mean what we say? And how does communication contribute to culture and vice versa?. This course intends to introduce culture as a crucial component of human communication and reproduction, and to examine some of the ways that communication both creates and depends upon culture. As language is the main mode of human communication, we start by outlining basic concepts in linguistics. However, whereas linguistics focuses on the structure of a communication system dealing primarily with vocal-auditory signals and with referential meaning, we will also consider several other aspects of meaning in language, focusing as much on language use as on language structure, and we will consider other cultural systems and modes of communication besides language, and the association of meaning with them. In the process we will examine, various expressive speech genres, metaphors that we live by, the power of language, gender preferences in communication, learning language, proverbs, jokes, and multilingualism, among other topics.

The study of communication is, among other things, the study of the media, codes, and signs (icons, indexes, and symbols) that give form and expression to discourse. Its emphasis is on the rules and structure of discourse, investigating how signs are organized to convey meaning. The study of communication extends beyond language to include the forms, structure and effects of such media as wireless telephony, computers, the internet, radio, television, and film. We will be concerned with the impact of various media (that are part of the communication revolution) on children, commerce, and education, and on its social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic effects. In essence we want to know how forms of communication shape our culture and how our culture has been shaping communication. We will attempt to cover a broad range of topics, so that depth of coverage of any of them will have to be limited. It is hoped that a wide ranging introductory survey such as this will provide incentive for the student to explore specific issues in greater depth in future coursework.


Required 1) Tracy Novenger 2001.   Intercultural Commmunication: A Practical Guide. Required 2) Deborah Tannen 1986.  That's Not What I Meant. Required 3) Keith Basso. 1979.  Portraits of the Whiteman. Recommended (and on reserve):  E.T. Hall   The Silent Language. E.T. Hall   Beyond Culture..                 Deborah Tannen 1990.  You Just Don't Understand.  Deborah Tannen 1994.  Talking from 9 to 5. Nancy Bonvillain. 2000 Language, Culture, and Communication. Robert L. Young. 1999. Understanding Misunderstandings.  


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