New W Course: Writing Culture

Nicole Constable of the Anthropology Department has successfully proposed a new writing-intensive course, ANTH 1747 Writing Culture. Here is a brief description of the course:

"This class will introduce you to several different anthropological and ethnographic writing styles and theoretical approaches while encouraging you to think about what anthropology can contribute to our understanding and appreciation of human diversity in the world today. In this class you will “try on” different writing styles and theoretical approaches. Throughout the class we will examine the poetics (writing style) and politics (forms of power) associated with different approaches and types of ethnographic writing. 

"Class readings include different types of anthropological writing. This includes empirical writings (e.g., structural-functional ethnographic realist writing) that characterized much anthropological work through the 1960s; interpretive works, influenced by Clifford Geertz; a range of experimental, reflexive, and critical writings of and since the “experimental moment” of the late 1980s; and feminist ethnography and fictional ethnography (or ethnographic fiction). Additional readings provide wider context and writing/study tips. 

"Assignments include completing five short papers and on final paper. The class includes peer and instructor workshopping of paper drafts for revision based on critical feedback from workshops. Each of the short papers will utilize different writing styles and theoretical approaches. You will “try them on” much like you might try on a costume or a part in a play (e.g., early 20th century functionalist, 1990s feminist ethnographer, etc.). Your final paper will draw on three of your shorter ones, evaluating, comparing and critiquing each approach. Throughout the class you will gather tools to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of these approaches and to revise and synthesize your papers, building up to the final paper. Your final paper, building on, synthesizing, revising and rewriting three of the shorter ones, will address the question of which approaches and writing styles are most appealing or useful to anthropologists and to you and why?"