Courses: 2009-2010


Autumn 2009 | Winter 2010 | Spring 2010

Autumn 2009

Scandinavian 222: Nordic Mythology and Medieval Culture
Instructor: Merrill Kaplan
T R 9:30 am-11:18 pm
# 21677
What do we know about Thor and Odin, and how do we know it? This course examines the myths of the Old Norse gods and the sources in which those myths are recorded. Students will gain insight into the world view and beliefs of the pagan North by reading (in English translation) the most important textual sources on Scandinavia's pre-Christian mythology. Students intrigued by the Viking Age, medieval Northern Europe, or the interpretation of myth will find much of interest. GEC course.

Arabic 241H: Culture of the Contemporary Arab World
Instructor: Sabra J. Webber
R 4:30-6:18 pm, 6:30-7:18 pm
# 26102
A general survey and examination of the socio-cultural structure of the modern Arab world. Available to students enrolled in an honors program or by permission of department or instructor. Taught in English.

The course consists of an analytical study of the cultural traits and patterns of contemporary Arab society based on scholarly research, recent field work, and personal experiences and observations in the Arab world. It examines the development of its language and dialects, beliefs, customs, and traditions within the framework of: a dynamically changing society; major ecological structures; the family and its value system; representative social, political and religious institutions; reform and challenges of modernization; trends in literature (with emphasis on the emotional and psychological dimensions of cultural traits and change), education, communications media, arts, and music. The course provides a rich and meaningful educational experience for the expansion of analytic skills, cultivation of aesthetic judgment, and development of insights into another culture, as well as a cultural context for the study of modern colloquial and/or Modern Standard Arabic.

Persian 241: Persian Culture
Instructor: Instructor: Benjamin Gatling
# 18591
T R 1:30-3:18 pm
This course will expose students to the diversity and richness of Persian culture. Because of the importance of religion in Persian culture, students will study in broad outline the distinguishing features of Shi'a Islam as practiced in Iran and they will be introduced to the main tenets of Persian sufism. The impact on Iran of two outside cultures - that of the Arabs and that of the industrialized West - will also be considered. The course will take into account endemic tensions in Persian culture: for example, between indigenous and outside forces, between absolutism and populism, etc. Much of the instruction will be through the examination of literary works, particularly twentieth century literary works; students will also see Iranian films and receive an introduction to Persian music and the Persian tradition of miniature painting.

English 270: Introduction to Folklore
Instructor: Ray Cashman
M W 9:30-11:18 am
# 10640
This class explores forms of traditional, vernacular culture--including verbal art, custom, and material culture--shared by men and women from a number of regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. At the same time, we will consider various interpretive, theoretical approaches to examples of folklore and folklife discussed, and we will investigate the history of folklore studies and the cultural contexts in which this field has flourished. Recurring central issues will include the dynamics of tradition, the nature of creativity and artistic expression, and the construction of personal and group identities.

English 367.05: The US Folk Experience
Instructor: Sheila Bock
M W 11:30-1:18
In this course, we will use the core concepts and methods of the field of folklore as the basis for reading assignments and writing projects. Because the theme of this course is "The U.S. Folk Experience," we will begin with a brief introduction to basic concepts of American folklore and ethnography, including folk groups, tradition, and fieldwork methodology, focusing on how these concepts and methodologies contribute to the development of critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Students will also learn fieldwork techniques and use them in the study of local practices and groups. These practices will provide the "raw data" students will use for ethnographic writing assignments. 367.05 fulfills the GEC "Social Diversity in the US" requirement and the second composition course you need to graduate.

Comparative Studies 542: American Indian Identity
Instructor: Daniel Reff
M W 9:30-11:18 am
# 26554
This course is intended as an introduction to issues of american Indian identity, particularly in the United States. Roughly a third of the class will focus on popular and scholarly representations of american Indians in art, literature, film, and academic texts. The bulk of the class will be spent considering how american Indian authors, artists, and scholars have endeavored to transcend or negate non-Indian images and construct an "indigenous" self. The course is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing particularly from anthropology, history, religious studies, and literature. As noted on the syllabus, we will devote all or part of several class periods to the representation of american Indians in film.
Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation (25%), three in-class word-bank quizzes (25%), and five short essays (50%), approximately 3 pages each.

English 575: Special topics in literary forms and themes: North
Instructor: Merrill Kaplan
T R 1:30-3:18 pm
# 27000
Where is North? This course is about the idea of North in prose, poetry, folklore, and the cultural imagination. Students will spend time with etymologists, ancient geographers, medieval chroniclers, poets from Seamus Heaney to Jose Luis Borges, and heroes from Väinämöinen of the Kalevala to Conan the Barbarian. We will explore the Victorians' romance with the Icelandic sagas and the Icelanders' own view of still more northern peoples. Through close reading of diverse texts we will uncover the story of where North has been and what it has meant.

Comparative Studies 597.02: Global Culture
Instructor: Sabra J. Webber (Columbus Campus) & Katherine Borland (Newark Campus)
T R 12:30-2:18 pm
# 27586
This capstone course for nonmajors addresses issues of the contemporary world through the medium of folklore and the study of folkloristics. Drawing upon examples from around the world (Africa, the Middle East, India, Latin america and the Caribbean, Europe, the South Pacific and so on) we will consider what part of our contemporary culture is "lore" and how traditional cultural resources interact with commercial, mediated and state-generated cultural constructs. We will examine oral, musical, visual and material cultural expressions. We will explore how the types, motifs, and characteristics of folklore find their way into popular literature and film as well as how folklore adapts and shapes the products of commercial mass media. Finally, we will identify the ways in which communities around the world, including those of students in the course, use their folklore as a counter-hegemonic resource to resist or negotiate regional and global powers.

The course will be team taught in two electronically linked classrooms on the Columbus and Newark Campuses & two 3-way videoconferences sessions with students in Egypt.
Written requirements are five 2-3 page reading and film synthesis papers over the course of the quarter.

Chinese 600: Performance Traditions of China
Instructor: Mark Bender
M W 1:30-3:18 pm
# 26024
This course covers tradition-based performance genres in China from a multi-cultural perspective. Traditions to be examined are drawn from many parts of the country and include professional storytelling, epic singing, antiphonal singing, ritual, folk dance, local opera, etc. from cultures such as the Han, Yi, Miao, Yao, Zhuang, Dong, Mongol, Tibetan, and Manchu. Multi-media. Many hands-on activities and projects.

Comparative Studies 677.02: "Folklore, Memory, and History" (Themes in World Folklore)
Instructor: Ray Cashman
M W 1:30 - 3:18 PM
# 7328
This course explores the interrelationships between folklore and history, memory and the past. What can we discover about the past from various surviving forms of popular expressive and material culture (e.g., ballads and vernacular architecture)? At stake is rescuing from oblivion the experiences, values, and worldviews of common people in the past. What can we discover about culture in the present from contemporary vernacular constructions of the past (e.g., commemorative parades and battle reenactments)? At stake is differentiating between history and memory, understanding the appeal of the past in the present, and appreciating how people use the past in the present to envision a future that fits their moral, social, and political agendas. Key concepts will include folklore, identity, tradition, oral history, material culture, commemoration, nostalgia, social or collective memory, and the politics of culture. Using perspectives from folklorists, anthropologists, and historians, we will advance our understanding of culture, past and present, through transdisciplinary dialogue.

Readings will include several shorter texts on Carmen and the following:
Jan Vansina. Oral Tradition as History
Guy Beiner. Remembering the Year of the French: Irish Folk History and Social Memory
Maurice Halbwachs. On Collective Memory
Paul Connerton. How Societies Remember
Keith Basso. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache
Tony Horwitz. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
Richard Flores. Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity, and the Master Symbol

Assignments include reviews of and presentations on relevant books not on the syllabus, and a final research paper and presentation.

English 872: The Language of Everyday Life
Instructor: Galey Modan
T R 3:30-5:18 pm
# 27015
This class will examine the language that people use to accomplish everyday tasks, both mundane and profound: How do we get off the phone, buy beer, talk to parents with Alzheimer's, write love letters, play with our friends, fight with our loved ones, pull the wool over someone's eyes? What kinds of contextual information is it important for a researcher to bring to analysis, and what kinds of information should a researcher refrain from imposing on participants' experience? With a focus on work from ethnography of communication and conversation analysis, you will learn to analyze the structures, patterns, and sociopolitical implications of the language that constructs daily experience.

Winter 2010

Comparative Studies 201: The Great Story Collections
Instructor: Margaret Mills
M W 10:30
This course takes a journey generally eastward from Europe and backward in time, to explore a selection of the world's great story collections in the social and historical settings of their literary creation. All are representations of live storytelling, as the literary compiler or compilers understood it, and all drew on local oral tradition for their stories to one degree or another. As such, these collections give us windows on ideas about story performance at different times and places, actual and imaginary: its styles, its settings, its purposes and meanings. What do these representations have in common? How are they different? What can they tell us about actual social practices involving storytelling, and how can we distinguish this social background from literary fantasy or invention? How do these collections, dating from the 15th century CE and earlier, from Europe to India, relate to storytelling as it is practiced today, either as formal entertainment or as part of our everyday lives? Where and how do stories get repeated? What are the contributions of different media (live voice, writing or print, audio recording, film, television) to the telling of tales?

The collections we will sample are Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio's Decameron (for which we will also view and discuss Pasolini's film Decameron), the Thousand and One Nights (for which we will also view and discuss the Disney film, Aladdin), Sufi stories from Fariduddin 'Attar's Conference of the Birds and Jalaluddin Rumi's Mathnavi, and the classical Sanskrit Panchatantra.

Besides two short (3-5 page) papers commenting on course readings and class discussion, due during the term, and a final exam consisting of a choice of short essay questions, each member of the class will perform for the class a short (5 to 10-minute) story or narrative joke of their own choosing (which can be fictional, or from personal experience or oral history from their family or elsewhere), and respond to other students' questions about how they chose the story, where it came from, what interests them about it, what they consider to be effective story-telling, etc. Your style as a performer will not be graded, but rather the quality of discussion that is created around the example you bring for the class to discuss.

English 270: Introduction to Folklore
Instructor: TBA
This class explores forms of traditional, vernacular culture--including verbal art, custom, and material culture--shared by men and women from a number of regional, ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. At the same time, we will consider various interpretive, theoretical approaches to examples of folklore and folklife discussed, and we will investigate the history of folklore studies and the cultural contexts in which this field has flourished. Recurring central issues will include the dynamics of tradition, the nature of creativity and artistic expression, and the construction of personal and group identities.

English 275: Ways of "Knowing": Health, Illness, and Identity
Instructor: Sheila Bock
M W 3:30PM - 5:18PM
Denney Hall 0206
# 25816
In this course, we will explore the complex and dynamic nature of health beliefs as they relate to individual and group identities. Using a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts, we will examine critically the multiplicity of health beliefs in American culture and the complex ways ideas about health interact with how people identify themselves and others. Central questions we will address include: Where do people learn what they "know" about health and illness? In what ways do individuals (both patients and health professionals) draw upon a variety sources of knowledge as they strive to make sense of health and illness? Which beliefs are given the most credibility in American culture today and why? Which beliefs are most often marginalized and why? How do individuals respond to the ways others categorize their beliefs? Ultimately, students will use the readings and class discussions to inform their understandings of their own experiences with/ perspectives on health and illness. Students will also become familiar with different critical approaches to analysis and interpretation (literary, rhetorical, and folkloric) by examining a variety of textual representations of the human experience.

English 367.05: The US Folk Experience
Instructor: Martha Sims
MW 9:30 – 11:30
Central Classrooms 0212.
An intermediate course that extends and refines expository writing and analytical reading skills, introducing fieldwork and ethnographic approaches to the diversity of US folk culture. This quarter's offering will give you a chance to explore neighborhoods in Columbus—watch for further details!

Persian 370: Persian Folklore and Mythology
Instructor: Ben Gatling
Mythology and folklore of Persian-speaking lands, from cosmological texts through popular theater and narrative performance to popular customs and beliefs. Students will become familiar with the concepts and individuals (gods, heroes, demons) of ancient and more recent Persian mythology, as well as with various categories of folklore and folklife in present day Iran. This course will also introduce students to the basic concepts and methods of comparative myth and folklore studies. Although a variety of texts will be read, the emphasis of the course will be on the mythological and folk aspects of the texts, rather than their purely literary qualities.

Arabic 375: The Arabian Nights
Instructor: Dr. Bruce Fudge.18
TuTh 10:30AM – 12:18PM
This course is intended to satisfy the GEC requirement for Category 2. Breadth: Section C. Arts and Humanities (1) Literature. Arabic 375 may also be applied this year to the Arabic major and minor programs.

The Nights are a remarkable example of a shared literary heritage, and at the same time have played a major part, for better or worse, in shaping Western perceptions of the Arabic-Islamic world. In this course students will be exposed to the original stories, which remain delightful to this day, as well as to the process by which manuscripts were bought, sold, copied, forged and translated. Then we will consider the remarkable diffusion of the tales and their characters, especially in cinema and modern literature. The course treats three related areas: i) the stories of the Nights themselves; ii) the textual history of the collection and its various editions and translations; and iii) some of the transformations and transmogrifications of the Nights, both literary and cinematic. The overall aim of the course is to demonstrate the range of the literary and cultural importance of the Arabian Nights. The origins of the collection lie in the Islamic Middle East, but the versions we know today are a direct result of a fascinating cross-cultural encounter, beginning with Antoine Galland’s translations of anonymous Arabic manuscripts in late seventeenth-century Paris. The subsequent vogue for “oriental tales” spread throughout Europe and back to the Islamic world, where subsequently there appeared a number of greatly expanded Arabic editions of the collection, apparently at least partly in response to European manuscript hunters. Within the Arabic world, such frivolous narratives were not regarded as serious literature, a prejudice that has not entirely disappeared today. Readings from The Arabian Nights; the history of the text, translations and literary and cinematic adaptations.

Comparative Studies/Near Eastern Languages and Cultures 648: Orality and Literacy
Instructor: Margaret Mills
MW 2:30
This course introduces the major theoretical trends concerned with literacy and oral communication and their interactions in global perspective, then critiques those theories in the light of case material primarily from the Middle East. All readings are in English. Students working in other areas of the world are encouraged to write their final research papers on case material or theory with direct reference to their own areas of specialization, and to bring their perspectives derived from other parts of the world to bear on classroom discussions of assigned readings. Global theories of literacy and orality owe a great deal to Middle Eastern data, which may in fact limit their applicability elsewhere. The writing system invented in southwestern Asia became the parent of all the surviving alphabetic writing systems of the Middle East, Europe, and South Asia. Furthermore, a rich body of research on oral traditions, testing certain dominant theories of oral formulation and transmission, has also accumulated for the region over the last thirty years or so. This course will sample this rich double data base to juxtapose and critique concepts and research strategies in comparison to one another. The course will equip students with an overview and critique of theories of literacy and of oral communication which is applicable worldwide.

Russian 644: Russian Folklore
Instructor: Helena Goscilo
T H 1:30-3:18
Never greet your guest over the threshold; face the right side when you sleep; and if you yawn make the sign of the cross over your mouth–failure to observe these rules courts disaster, for it places you at the mercy of evil spirits. Premised on the view that borders and apertures are particularly dangerous, these beliefs underpin Russian folklore, which teems with prohibitions that presuppose the aggressively malevolent nature of mysterious forces not only in the pagan, but also in the contemporary Christian world. Some of these forces, however, are ambivalent, such as the famously colorful Baba-Yaga, "the witch of all time," who paradoxically symbolizes both life and death, female and male, nurture and torture. Though these notions may be traced to medieval times and an agrarian society's dependence on the unpredictable elements in a bleak geographical expanse, some of them operate today, especially in rural areas, where the population believes in "the evil eye" that can cause people to wither and die. Startlingly, in the 21st century a group of "witches," armed with buckets and magic formulas, gathered on Moscow's Red Square on New Year's Eve to summon up the spirit of "Father Frost"–for snow had been atypically scant during the Russian winter. In other words, Russian folklore is not "outdated lore," for it continues to thrive today, even among the educated segment of Russian society.

In addition to examining various aspects of pagan demonology, this course focuses on sundry folkloric genres: epic poems (byliny), proverbs, spells, and the fairy tale. Students familiar with Western fairy tales and Walt Disney's screen adaptations will find Russian versions of the same or similar plots full of surprises evidencing the originality of the Russian folk imagination. Copious visual materials–film/video, paintings, graphics, and handicrafts–as well as some music supplement readings for the course.

English 770.01: Intro to Grad Study in Folklore 1: Genres and Interpretation
Instructor: Merrill Kaplan
M W 11:30
How do you interpret traditional forms and the cultural practices that create them when there are multiple versions, none of them authoritative? How do you read cultural expression as text within the context of its performance? This course provides a lightning introduction to folklore and the intellectual wellsprings of its study. It then moves on through several canonical genres of traditional expression such as festival, fairytale, legend, folk belief, jokes, and foodways with an eye towards developing the tools necessary for their interpretation. Assignments will include class presentations and a term paper.

Interested in Transnationalism?
Anthropology 810.22 : Theory and Problems in Cultural Anthropology: Defining Transnationalism
# 26741
Instructor: Jeffrey Cohen
W 1:30PM - 4:18PM
This class explores and debates the concept of transnationalism as it is used in the social sciences and humanities. While the idea of transnationalism assumes that people do not follow one-way streets and instead transcend and bridge physical, social and cultural space, there is very little debate concerning the costs and benefits of transnationalism. Further, there is a bias towards discussion of migration while the impacts of transnational outcomes on non-movers and stay-at-homes, are often ignored.

The course engages several themes and focuses on transnational aspects of migration, political organization, social life, expressive culture and religion. Weekly we will debate themes, theories and methods for defining transnational space and transnational social formations. Students will produce bibliographies as well as term papers focused on the topic as it relates to their interests.

Tentative Readings:

  • Basch, Linda G., N.G. Shiller, and C.S. Blanc 1994: Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States.
  • Paerregaard, Karsten 2008: Peruvians Dispersed: A Global Ethnography of Migration.
  • Vertovec, Steven 2009: Transnationalism.

Spring 2010

Comparative Studies 677.04: Islam and Popular Practice in West and South Asia
Instructor: Margaret Mills
MW 3:30 pm - 5:18 pm
Class #: 27949
This course introduces different aspects of concrete, practiced Islam and Muslim ways of life, from popular Sufism to cults of spirit possession and dimensions of morality and sexual behavior. It focuses on contemporary ethnographic case studies in local context. Popular religious practices, attitudes and beliefs help shape a communal moral conscious among Muslims, but they are subject to criticism within the process of Islamic revival and renewal. These debates will also be discussed.

EALL 357: East Asian Folklore
Instructor: Mark Bender
MW: 1:30-3:18 5 credit hours
Class #: 15164
Topic: The course explores traditional folklore in contemporary contexts in East Asia (that is, China, the Korean peninsula, and Japan). There is a heavy stress on ethnic minority cultures in southwest China, such as the Yi, Bai, Naxi, Tibetan, and Miao. Considering folklore as a dynamic process, the course examines specific items of folk activity in local, majority, and minority ethnic contexts including folk song, folk stories, epic, myth, rituals, dance, costume and material culture, ethnic tourism, and the folk component of pop music, dance, and performance poetry. Other features: There will be a number of interesting "hand's on" activities and the chance to do a project of your choice.
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ENG 270: Introduction to Folklore
Instructor: Martha Sims
MW 1:30 pm - 3:18 pm
Class #: 15640
This course will introduce students to basic concepts of folklore and methods of studying and interpreting folklore (past and present). We will examine verbal, behavioral and material expressions of cultures and communities, looking at how the folklore is created, re-invented and made meaningful within particular folk groups. Those may be groups recognizable to "outsiders" in some way—occupational, religious or ethnic groups, for example—or those may be groups whose borders are less visible to outsiders. Readings and class discussions will focus both on the how and what of folklore—how we define it, collect it, and study it, as well as exploring examples of what it is. In addition, students will practice collecting and analyzing folklore themselves.

ENG 577.03: The Traditional Ballad
Instructor: Richard Green
MW 11:30 am - 1:18 pm
Class #: 26222
Learn some of the stories that inspired Keats and Longfellow, Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia: songs of love, murder, revenge, seduction, the supernatural, and the grotesque, brought by Scots, Irish, and English immigrants to the valleys of Vermont, the mountains of Kentucky, and even the farmsteads of Ohio – songs  that have lasted since medieval times and are still being sung on the modern concert state – songs like Barbara Allen, the Gypsy Laddie, and Little Matty Groves, the inspiration for such American masterpieces as Frankie and Johnnie and John Henry. Try for a sample.

ENG 597.01: Disability in the Contemporary World
Instructor: Amy Shuman
Monday/Wednesday 9:30 am - 11:18 am
Class #15731
We will explore the concept of stigma as a central issue in disability studies. According to Erving Goffman, cultural groups establish certain kinds of practices and ways of being as normal and acceptable and others as not normal and unacceptable. Many disability scholars challenge how the category of "normal" gets used as if it is natural. Goffman says that people who are considered not "normal" are put in the position of having to manage their identity, to prove that they can be normal and accepted. In this class we will look at how stigma works in everyday life, in fiction, in film, in news accounts, and in personal narratives by people with disabilities.


  • Goffman, Erving. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity
  • Choldenko, Bennifer Al Capone Does My Shirts
  • Oe, K A Healing Family
  • Berube, Michael Life as We Know it
  • Linton, Simi Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity
  • Selected Essays posted on Carmen

Course Assignments/Requirements:

  1. Written responses to the readings
  2. Mid-term exam
  3. Final Exam
  4. Two short essays

ENG 597.02: American Regional Cultures and Global Transition: Appalachia, Louisiana, and the Texas Border Country (Issues in the Contemporary World)
Instructor: Ray Cashman
T R 9:30 am -11:18 am
Class #: 26230
This course fulfills the capstone GEC requirement by introducing you to the folklore of three American regions. Imagined as different from a supposed American norm, each region is both attractive to outsiders and stigmatized by them. In each region, a dynamic vernacular culture has emerged out of complex race and class relations. In each region, both government policy and economic forces have powerfully transformed local lifeways and the physical environment, and vernacular political expression has been subject to violent repression. Each region has also been strongly marked by in- and out-migration. We'll look at historical change through the prism of celebrated folklore forms such as Louisiana Mardi Gras, Appalachian fairy tales, and the Tex-Mex corrido. We'll also explore the impact of recent events: Hurricane Katrina and the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast, mountaintop-removal mining in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee, and the proposed border fence across the US-Mexican border to halt undocumented migration. Readings will be drawn from several disciplines. Students will write three short essay exams and a research paper.

English 770.02: Intro to Graduate Study in Folklore 2: Fieldwork
Instructor: Ray Cashman
T 1:30 pm - 4:18 pm
Class #: 26249
This course explores a range of methodological, theoretical, and ethical issues in fieldwork as practiced in folklore and allied fields of ethnographic research. The emphasis will fall on students applying perspectives, methods, and strategies from readings and discussion in a series of hands-on exercises that will include participant-observation out in the world, photographic representation, and face-to-face interviewing of other living, breathing homo sapiens (no auto-ethnography or internet research allowed). Written work for the course will consist of reports based on these empirical projects of gathering, documenting, and analyzing ethnographic materials. Class periods will alternate between discussion of readings and collectively reviewing/critiquing fellow students' fieldwork documentation and written reflections.

English 790: Foundations of Contemporary Critical Theory
Instructor: Amy Shuman
MW 1:30 pm - 3:18 pm
Class #: 26251
Our topic is semiotics. Semiotics is a fundamental tool for folklorists or anyone interested in art and meaning making. One question underlying our readings is about relations among visibility, hypervisibility, and invisibility. For example, how does something like public sunflower seed eating in Berlin become a sign of immigrants, filth, and foreignness? How do we strategically use in/visibility in productions and performances of our identity? How is semiotics useful for understanding stigma? This course is designed for anyone interested in multiple forms of making meaning, including images, language, codes, and cultural practices. The course provides foundational tools through readings by Saussure, Jakobson, Barthes, Eco, deCerteau, and others, but it also offers a critique of the linguistic basis of semiotics and suggests new ways of understanding cultural performances and practices. No prerequisites: you do not need prior familiarity with any of the readings or with semiotics.


  • Blonsky On Signs
  • Hawkes Structuralism and Semiotics
  • Goffman Stigma
  • Selection of Essays

Course Assignments/Requirements:

  1. Written responses to the readings on Carmen
  2. Oral presentation on an assigned reading or readings related to your work
  3. Term paper on any topic related to your work.

English 870: Seminar in Folklore/The Ethnography of Performance
Instructor: Dorothy Noyes (Email: )
MW 11:30 am - 1:18 pm
Class #: 15912
Since the 1970s, the performance turn in folklore, anthropology, and related disciplines has illuminated our understanding of agency and efficacy in cultural production. In a major revision of the modern culture concept, it focuses on cultural forms as process and practice: not texts exemplifying a static shared worldview but historically situated, conventional transactions among persons. As part of the philosophy of language's critique of reference, it looks at how language is used to construct reality; reacting to the focus on deep structure in most grand theory, it insists on the significance of material and interactional surfaces. Today it is newly relevant as a corrective to the mystique of "values" and/or identities in contemporary cultural politics. This seminar, one of the three core theory courses in the graduate folklore curriculum, will examine both programmatic texts and selected case studies in the ethnography of performance: that is, an approach based in the "thick description" of instances. While theory in the field has tended to develop within genre specializations, we will examine verbal art, cultural performance (ritual, festival, spectacle) and the performance of self together in the attempt to illustrate common issues and a general paradigm.

Assignments: Students will share in preparing for discussion and write a research paper: literary and historical topics are welcome as well as field-based projects.

Books: Drawn from multiple disciplines and contexts, the reading will be challenging, but we will approach it in an exploratory spirit. In addition to articles on Carmen, we will read:

  • Bauman, Richard 1984 (2d ed.). Verbal Art as Performance Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.
  • Basso, Keith. 1979. Portraits of "the Whiteman." Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
  • Scott, James C. 1990. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Fabian, Johannes 1990. Power and Performance: Ethnographic Explorations through Proverbial Wisdom and Theater in Shaba, Zaire. Madison: U. of Wisconsin Press.

Music 950.01: Seminar in Musicology World Cinema/World Beat
Instructor: Ron Emoff
W 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Class #: 5817
In this seminar we will view several international films and other cinematic creations in which musical practice serves as stimulus for or forceful indication of identity formation and representation of otherness. With each week's film viewing we will take the opportunity to look more in depth into each particular musical practice itself as well as how it is creatively incorporated in the film. We will approach each film itself as a cultural event (thus we will discuss as well filmic components beyond sound and music). The course will take an interpretive and qualitative-centric approach to the analysis of cinematic representations of music as culture. We will focus upon ways in which music and cultural situation, condition, conception, practice, and more, combine in meaningful film interactions to convey something of the uniqueness, variability, and even misrepresentability of culture.