Communication and Culture | Performance as Communicative Practice (Sense of Place in Narrative and Ethnography)
C313 | 15026 | Robinson,J

CMCL-C 313: Performance as Communicative Practice
(Topic: Sense of Place in Narrative and Ethnography)
Class Number: 15026

TuTh, 9:30 AM-10:45 AM, C2 100

Fulfills College A&H Requirement

Instructor: Jennifer Robinson
Office: C2 275
Phone: 855-4607

In this course, we examine how people shape the places they live and
how those places in turn influence the ways they live.  We seek to
map the invisible landscapes that reflect our assumptions about who
we are as individuals and as members of groups.  Through
ethnographies, philosophy, and personal essays, and through
collecting folklore and writing our own ethnographies, we explore
how people use places as texts and incorporate places into texts,
using both means to construct and communicate their identities.
Public, institutional, virtual, and sustainable spaces, in
particular, will help us identify how sense of place is informed by
power, gender, belonging, social structures, palimpsestic pasts, and
possible futures.  Special attention will be paid to how people
alter and reinterpret space through language, performance, and other
symbolic construction so as to transform what is possible there. We
will explore international, historical, and gender variations.
Student ethnographies from past semesters have examined such sites
as a church sanctuary, summer camp, theater green room, holocaust
memorial, Kelley School meeting area, and sorority house living
room.  This course exercises ethnographic skills, such as
observation, triangulation, interview, network and site diagramming,
thick description, and critical analysis.

Course readings include, for example, Seven Feld and Keith Bassos’s
Senses of Place, Scott Russell Sanders’ personal essays, Kent
Ryden’s Mapping the Invisible Landscape: Folklore, Writing, and the
Sense of Place, Martin Heidegger’s “Building Dwelling Thinking,”
Edward Relph’s “Spirit of Place and Sense of Place in Virtual
Realities,” Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk, bell hooks’s
Belonging: A Culture of Place, and N. Scott Momaday’s On the Way to
Rainy Mountain. Visual texts may include Dersu Ursula and Encounters
at the End of the World.

Major assignments will include two exams and a 10-page ethnography
based on original fieldwork that analyzes the communicative forms
and practices displayed through one site of place making.