Communication and Culture | Ethnography as Cultural Critique
C318 | 27991 | Goodman, J.

TuTh, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, BH 305

Fulfills COLL S&H Requirement

Instructor: Jane Goodman
Office: Mottier Hall 152
Phone: 855-3232

“Ethnography makes the familiar strange, the exotic quotidian. . . .
[It] is actively situated between powerful systems of meaning. It
poses its questions at the boundaries of civilizations, cultures,
classes, races, and genders.”
—James Clifford, Writing Culture

“Anthropology… is no longer the ‘discovery’ of terra nova or
undescribed cultures, but rather a method of informed critique,
pursued often by placing into strategic and disjunctive
juxtaposition different representations or perspectives so as to
throw light upon the social context of their production and meaning,
and to draw out their implications.”
—Michael M. J. Fischer, Perilous States

This course explores the ways ethnographic work can serve as a way
of “making strange” the world in which we live. By looking at our
world through the lens of other societies and cultures, we begin to
notice things about our societies and ourselves that we had always
taken for granted. We start to understand the ways in which our own
world is structured. We begin to pay attention to the culturally
specific nature of our own beliefs and assumptions.

The self provides a focal point around which our inquiry will be
organized. Embedded in our ideas about personhood are broader
cultural assumptions about the relationship between mind and body,
between individual and society, between structure and agency. Larger
societal discourses and ideologies inform the ways we experience
selves and bodies.  By critically examining specific self-making
practices in a range of ethnographic settings, we develop a more
informed, critical perspective on our own society.

Course topics will likely include:  selfhood in the liberal state;
the self as a narrative project; transforming the self; selves,
feelings, emotions; embodying selves; transforming selves;
fragmenting selves; virtual selves.

This course includes a semester-long ethnographic research project
of the student’s design, as well as introductory training in
ethnographic methods.