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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2004

T C 301 • Culture and Communication—W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42090 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM

Course Description

This course explores various symbolic forms and modes of communication in relation to culture. Since language is the primary form of human communication, language structure and language usage will be examined in some detail. The following aspects of language will be studied: types of linguistic structure; language in relation to thought; metaphors we live by; the role of language in ritual, play, and storytelling; language and social organization; men’s and women’s speech; language acquisition by children; and language change and language history. In addition, other symbolic forms and modes of communication will be discussed, either as they relate to language or as they function independently of language. These include gestures, clothing and bodily adornment, spatial organization, food and eating, music, and images (photography and advertisement), as well as animal communication. The class involves lectures and discussions of assigned readings. Slides and video and oral tape recordings are used, as well as the internet. Student projects are discussed in class.

About the professor Joel Sherzer is a professor of anthropology and linguistics. Everything he researches or teaches has to do with the intersection of language, culture, and society. He has carried out research among the Kuna Indians of Panama, in Bali, Indonesia, in France, and in the United States. His most recent book is Speech Play and Verbal Art.

Grading Policy

This course will contain a substantial writing component. Three papers (6-10 pages each) based on the collection and analysis of data dealing with various aspects of culture and communication. The results of the papers will be discussed in class. At least one of the papers will be based on a group project. For each reading assignment, students will write a question for discussion. These questions will be emailed to the entire class and discussed in class. Two exams Papers count 45%, exams count 40%, and class participation counts 15%.


The readings will include two short books and a small course packet: Joel Sherzer, Speech Play and Verbal Art Ruth Finnegan, Communicating: The Multiple Modes Of Human Inerconnection The course packet will provide discussions of and illustrations of a range of symbolic forms and modes of communication.


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