Anthropology | Proseminar in Lang & Culture
L500 | 0428 | Le Sourd
The use of complex languages is clearly one of the distinguishing features
of the human species. Languages not only serve as complex and highly
organized systems for the communication of meaning, but also provide a
vitally important vehicle for the transmission of culture.
Anthropologists have accordingly looked to the study of language for
insights into the nature of cultural meaning and the organization of
thought. This course will focus on several lines of inquiry in anthropology
that have drawn inspiration from studies of the nature of language and more
generally from semiotics, the study of systems of representation of meaning.
We will begin by focusing on the nature of languages as semiotic systems,
then turn to more general questions about the relationships among language,
thought, and culture, drawing not only on work in linguistic anthropology,
but also on research in sociolinguistics, folklore, and gender studies.
The particular topics to be covered will be determined in part by the
interests of the students who register for the course. Work for the course
will include three problem sets that ask students to consider data from
particular languages as examples of how languages are stuctured, plus
three critical reviews of particular works.