Course Archive 2013-2014


Autumn 2013 | Spring 2014

Autumn 2013

CS 5668 / NELC 5568
Studies in Orality and Literacy
Instructor: Sabra J. Webber
Thursday 3:55PM-6:50PM
Hopkins Hall 0246

This course takes place thirty years after the publishing of Walter Ong’s influential 1982 work, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. Ong touches briefly on what he called, secondary oral cultures, those emergent with the advent of television and radio, but perhaps for our purposes in this course more usefully with the advent of hypertext/hypermedia phenomena. As we move forward in the course we will keep an eye on these emerging phenomena and those who study them considering, at the suggestion of Fowler and others, how hypermedia processes and products might lead us to understand more complexly oral, manuscript, as well as book cultures as they interweave across time and space. The focus in this course is on theoretical trends in orality and literacy studies that engage with expressive or aesthetic (“performative” as linguistic anthropologists or folklorists understand the term) examples of oral or written communication, sacred or secular, that consider texts, textures and contexts, especially audience, in their analyses. We will also privilege theoretical studies that consider the permeable boundaries among the oral, written, and secondary oral rather than, for example, setting up absolute dichotomies between various manifestations of oral and written. We will test these theoretical claims with recourse to case studies particular to one or another of a spectrum of local communities. Students are urged to bring their own projects based in any language or combination of languages to the metaphorical and actual course table, though all readings will be in English.  Student projects can address any culture and any time period, but the work done on it in this particular seminar will be expected to draw on our mutually considered course readings as the means to move the particular study forward. Global theories of both orality and literacy owe much to studies of Near Eastern data, ancient, medieval, and contemporary, but we will also draw on comparative examples that apply similar theory in alternative places and times, and those that engage with dissimilar theory applied to the same expressive phenomena. Among others, we will read excerpts from works by Martin Jaffee, John Foley, Roman Jakobson, Donna Haraway, Joyce Coleman, Susan Niditch, G. Bauman, Ong himself, Robert Fowler, James C Scott, Brian Street, and Simon Penny.

Folklore Major/Minor Elective
Folklore GIS: Topics

Chinese 5400
Performance Traditions of China

Instructor: Mark Bender
Tuesday and Thursday 2:20PM-3:40PM
Mendenhall Lab 0125

Introduction to the panorama of oral and orally-related performance traditions of China; explores local traditions of professional storytelling, epic singing, folksongs, and local drama.

Folklore Major/Minor Elective
Folklore GIS: Topics

Anthropology 5624
Special Topics: The Anthropology of Food: Culture, Society, and Eating

Instructor: Jeffrey Cohen
Tuesday and Thursday 2:20PM-3:40PM
Knowlton Hall 0190

In this course, we explore the anthropology of food and the place of food in culture and society. Our central theme is the role of food in the creation of social and group identity. You’ll learn a little anthropology and a lot about why we study food and you will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork around the food traditions you love.

Folklore Major/Minor Elective
Folklore GIS: Topics

CS 5957.02
Folklore in Circulation: Cultures of Waste and Recycling

Instructor: Dorothy Noyes
Wednesday and Friday 12:45PM-2:05PM
Hagerty Hall 0050

This course explores the notion of the residual: what is left over, useless, unclassifiable. We will explore the customary management of communal resources, both human and material, in scarce-resource societies. We’ll consider processes of symbolic classification through which phenomena can be labelled as out of place or out of phase. We'll examine the creation of waste (and its converse, deprivation) with the codification of custom in modernity, and look at strategies by which waste is recuperated as a matter of necessity, aesthetics, or ideology. We'll look at how different kinds of leftover move in and out of systems of value: for example, the labelling of things as "junk" or "antiques," people as "trash," or ideas as "folklore." Finally, we'll think about the status of residues in social and cultural theory. Course requirements include regular Carmen discussion of readings and a research project that traces the social life of a cultural object.

Folklore Major/Minor Elective
Folklore GIS: Topics

English 6751.01 / CS 6750.01
Introduction to Graduate Study in Folklore I: Philology of the Vernacular
Instructor: Katherine Borland
Monday 9:10AM-12:25PM
Denney Hall 0419

This course introduces students to what folklorist Richard Bauman has labeled the “prevailing theory” of Folklore Scholarship. We will examine a number of folklore texts – legend, tale, anecdote – and entextualizations – custom, belief – putting to practice the notion that texts are best understood within their cultural contexts and cultures are best comprehended  through their entextualized representations. Following the historical trajectory of folklore scholarship from the mid-19th century to the present, we will examine the “stuff” of folklore according to the genres that have significantly impacted our understanding of our discipline. Students will be charged with compiling a bibliographic essay and an interpretive/analytic essay on their chosen topic.

Folklore GIS: Tools

English 7350.02 / CS 7350.22
Theorizing Folklore 2: The Ethnography of Performance

Instructor: Dorothy Noyes
Thursday 4:10PM-7:25PM
Denney Hall 0419

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, with its attention to bodies in motion, it is newly relevant as a corrective to the mystique of “values” and/or identities in contemporary cultural politics. This seminar will examine both programmatic texts and selected case studies in the ethnography of performance: that is, an approach based in "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. Students will share in preparing for discussion and write a research paper: literary and historical topics are welcome as well as field-based projects.

Folklore GIS: Theory


Spring 2014 Courses

Comparative Studies 5957.01

Traveler as Trickster

Instructor: Dr. Sabra Webber
Tuesday, Thursday 3:55PM-6:50PM
Hagerty Hall 451

It took an ex-physicist—Francis Crick—and a former ornithology student—James Watson—to crack the secret of life. They shared certain wanderlust, an indifference to boundaries. —Robert Wright. The king must have contact not only with the central power but also with the randomly scattered sources of unusual events in the magical field beyond his boundaries. If those sources cannot be vanquished and assimilated, at least some measured contact with them must be kept. Thus, for example, the king or his ministers may seek information from ambassadors, spies and travelers, prophets and soothsayers. — Willeford, 157. This seminar takes a critical look at different sorts of travel and travelers - explorers, ethnomusicologists, migrant workers, anthropologists, folklorists, NGO and government officials and workers, missionaries, and tourists. We look at a wide range of travel narratives and their relation to “tricksters” and to trickiness in various cultural and historical contexts. It is to be hoped that students will produce papers that circle around these themes and that their projects will intersect in ways that will enhance the work of fellow students in the seminar and in turn will be enhanced by theirs.

Comparative Studies 6750.02/English 6751.02/22
Introduction to Graduate Study in Folklore II: Fieldwork and the Ethnography of Communication

Instructor: Dr. Katherine Borland

Monday 9:10AM-12:15PM

Denney Hall 435
#18362, #20546, #20547

This course will be run as a seminar/workshop that explores a range of methodological, theoretical, and ethical issues in fieldwork as practiced in folklore and allied fields of ethnographic research. Qualitative methods covered include participant observation, interviewing, photography, transcription, and organizing and using field notes.   Issues raised by these qualitative methods include ethics and the politics of representation, collaboration and working relationships in the field, and how best to negotiate Institutional Review Boards for research with human subjects.  Topics of inquiry include the power of performance, the nature of verbal art, the workings of genre, and the poetics of place and identity.  Major theoretical inspiration comes from performance studies as developed by folklorists; linguistic, cultural, and visual anthropology; and sociolinguistics and the ethnography of communication. Class periods will alternate between discussion of readings and collectively reviewing and critiquing students’ fieldwork documentation and written reflections.  Students will apply perspectives, methods, and strategies from readings and discussion, in a series of exercises that offer students hands-on field experience, culminating in a final ethnography of a culturally significant performative act.

Tools 2
 for Folklore GIS

English 7872.01/.02
Seminar in English Language Studies - Discourse Analysis: Social Contexts

Instructor: Dr. Galey Modan

Wednesday 9:10AM-12:25PM
Denney Hall 207

#20684, #20685

For students interested in examining discourse as part of a folklore, linguistics, literature, humanities, or social science research project, this course will give you the tools to investigate how language structure (not just content) shapes perceptions, values, social interaction, and power struggles. The course provides an overview of the major approaches to analyzing spoken and written discourse used in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology, including interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, and critical discourse analysis. We will explore how the contexts of various spheres of social interaction both shape and are shaped by discourse that occurs in or in relation to them.  The approach that we will take to analyzing texts is a micro-level one, focusing on the details of linguistic structure and how those details connect to more macro spheres of social engagement.  Students will collect examples of spoken and written texts, and analyze them in short paper assignments.  There are no prerequisites;  requirements include a transcription assignment, 3 short papers, and one final project.

Comparative Studies 8858/English 8858.01/.02

Seminar in Folklore: Play: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Aesthetics and Culture

Instructor: Dr. Amy Shuman

Friday 12:40PM-3:55PM

Denney Hall 435

#29450, #29433, #29434

The study of play is fundamentally interdisciplinary as it pushes, stretches, and dissolves the edges of art, literature, culture, science, math, linguistics, semiotics, economics, etc.  This is a course about interstices and the in-between places where meaning is made and negotiated. We will revisit the classic theories of play (Vygotsky, Bateson, Huizinga, and others), which establish the foundations of thinking about play as a model for understanding embodied, everyday experience. We will explore anthropological studies of play as culturally situated and will pay particular attention to Susan Stewart’s work, from her book Nonsense to her more recent work on aesthetics.  All students are welcome. No previous work in folklore or anthropology is required.