Communication and Culture | Topics in Performance and Culture (Topic: Stories of Everyday Life: Media, Ethnography, and the Representation of Self)
C414 | 15122 | Lepselter, S.
MW, 1:00 PM-2:15 PM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 203
Note: CMCL-C 414 can be taken twice for credit when the topic
Meets with AMST-A 398
Fulfills College A&H Requirement
Instructor: Susan Lepselter
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 285
What do we mean by “everyday life?” How do ideas about culture,
class, gender, race, and the individual emerge through
representations of ordinary people -- both self and other -- in
different forms of media, ranging from books to the Internet? In
making meaning from everyday experience, what are the relationships
between ethnography, fiction and autobiography?
This course will explore such questions by pursuing two major
themes: the expression and framing of the self in everyday life, and
the proliferation of many kinds of representation, in various media,
which shape the meanings of both everyday and extraordinary
experience. The anthropology of everyday life examines what are
often taken-for-granted practices and beliefs. In this course, you
will turn an anthropological eye towards the representation of the
self in everyday contexts, both in your own culture and in worlds
far from home. You will consider works from both academic and
popular genres, including written works of ethnography, fiction and
memoir, and stories from television, film and the Internet. While
some weeks will involve the reading of texts, on other weeks you
will critically analyze representations from popular media. Students
will have the opportunity to create a creative/ethnographic work
focusing on their own familiar worlds.
We are currently in the midst of multiple trends in cultural
representation involving the self in everyday life. One trend is in
anthropology, where there is a heightened interest in what is often
called “auto-ethnography” – a broad term that can suggest native
ethnography, autobiographical narrative, or the ethnography, from
within, of a dominant culture. There is also a cultural
fascination with another kind of popular “auto-ethnography” found in
stories and images of ordinary people on the Internet and on
television, both in self-representations and as presented from the
outside. Making use of various constructions of the self in
everyday life, we will study the intersections between different
media and genres. We will explore the boundaries between the
fictive, the autobiographical, and the ethnographic; the impact of
feminist anthropology on theories of representation; and deepen our
understanding of those cultural and expressive practices, beliefs,
values, and discourses that often go without saying.
1. One 1,000 word paper (15%)
2. One 2,000 word paper (20%)
3. Midterm Exam (25%)
4. Final Exam ( 30%)
5. Class participation (includes any quizzes, required note-taking
and in-class assignments -- 10%)
Assigned books may include the following, in either selections from,
or the entirety of, the text:
Reed-Danahay, Deborah E., ed. Auto-Ethnography: Rewriting the Self
and the Social.
Ginsburg, Faye D., Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin, eds. Media
Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain.
Hall, Edward T. An Anthropology of Everyday Life: An Autobiography.
Stewart, Kathleen. Ordinary Affect.
Fox, Aaron Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture.
Stewart, Susan. On Longing.
Carver, Raymond. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood.