Communication and Culture | Methods of Ethnographic Research in Communication and Culture
C507 | 29160 | Seizer, S.


F, 10:30 AM-1:00 PM, C2 272

Open to Graduates Only!

Instructor: Susan Seizer
E-Mail: sseizer@indiana.edu
Office: C2 241
Phone: 856-1986

This course explores ethnographic research methods in the study of
communication and culture. It is explicitly designed to connect our
three departmental focal areas – performance, public discourse, and
media – through the lens of ethnographic perception. A primary goal
of the course is to teach ourselves how to better observe meaning in
human actions and practices. To this end, we start from the premise
that anything is interesting that interests people; accordingly, we
aim to find our own way into an “interested” state of mind by asking
questions and recognizing responses that may be other than expected,
and reading and discussing the work of scholars who write
specifically about ethnographic perception. We address a range of
theoretical and methodological issues involved in the construction
of ethnographic texts, familiarizing ourselves with historic debates
surrounding these issues (from changing definitions of “the field”
to debates over “outsider” vs. “insider” research). Students will be
introduced to a range of methods including fieldwork, observation,
participant-observation, interviewing, transcription, charting,
sampling, and taking fieldnotes. Course materials include books,
articles, and in-class film screenings that allow us to look at how
communicative practices, ranging from everyday talk to variously
mediated events, have been approached ethnographically. Throughout
the semester, students work on their own ethnography projects
focusing on some aspect of socio-cultural life in the Bloomington
area, collecting and compiling primary materials and culminating in
a final paper.