ANTH 250 - Language, Culture, and Society
Semester Offered: Fall and Spring
This course draws on a wide range of theoretical perspectives in exploring a particular problem, emphasizing the contribution of linguistics and linguistic anthropology to issues that bear on research in a number of disciplines. At issue in each selected course topic are the complex ways in which cultures, societies, and individuals are interrelated in the act of using language within and across particular speech communities.
May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.
Topic for 2020/21a: The Poetics and Politics of Everyday Conversation. Language is an ever-present part of everyday life, but attention to language tends to be restricted to occasions that feel evidently eventful, important, and consequential. Weddings, funerals, graduations are accompanied by artfully crafted speeches. Meanwhile, the uses of language during the routine activities of everyday life—conversations over a weekday dinner with family, or casual banter with friends while walking from one classroom to the next—are often overlooked. This course focuses on conversations in everyday life in order to reveal the powerful social dynamics that unfold during seemingly uneventful interactions. In fact, these social interactions are all the more consequential because they are taken for granted. Focusing on the forms of talk that accompany caretaking, socializing, and play, this course provides insights into how cultural and social practices are acquired, and into the everyday practices wherein social status, power, group boundaries, and identities are challenged and established. Topics include: the stylistic features of everyday conversations; cultural differences in conversational style; manifestations of racism, sexism, queerphobia, and classism in everyday talk; the performance of politeness and informality; code-switching and bilingual conversation; stance, framing, narrative, and affect in conversation. Students learn how to analyze everyday conversations using theoretical frameworks and methods from conversation analysis, narrative analysis, and ethnomethodology. Louis Römer.
Topic for 2020/21b: Language, Empires, and Nations. (Same as LALS 250 ) How have early global (colonial) and late global (post- or neo-colonial) states formulated language policies, and to what degree have their subjects conformed to or resisted these attempts? How does language use relate to the notion of belonging to globalized colonial, national, and local domains? This course offers a survey of anthropological, historical, and linguistic approaches to these questions through a consideration of language contact in colonial and neo-colonial situations, a comparison of linguistic policies upheld by empires, nation-states and transnational processes, and the conflict between language policy and local linguistic ideologies. The course addresses case studies from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia that cover the range between institutional language reform and individual strategies of accommodation and resistance as they relate to early and contemporary forms of global expansion from the sixteenth century onwards. David Tavárez.
Two 75-minute periods.
Course Format: CLS
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