Published: Feb. 26, 2018
lang and storytelling

People make meaning in and through language. We collaboratively produce narrative accounts of experience with those around us, according to—or in resistance to—normative frameworks for communication. Ethnographic data often consist of these very stories and narratives, and like our interlocutors, ethnographers produce stories and narratives as a process of meaning-making. How do ethnographers tell stories and build theory out of those stories? What conceptual and analytical tools do sociolinguistics, semiotics, and narrative theory offer ethnographers, and how can ethnographic theory and practice enrich the study of language in and as context?

Who is this course for?
This graduate seminar is designed with three groups of students in mind: 1) anthropology students who want to gain precise tools to consider language and narrative and hone their ability to “speak the language” of linguistic anthropology, one of our four sub-fields; 2) linguistic-focused students who are interested in ethnographic theory and semiotics; and 3) graduate students pursuing a Certificate in Ethnography (which will be launched fall 2018) or other ethnography-interested students.

What will we be reading?
From a sociocultural and sociolinguistic perspective, rooted in ethnographic texts, this graduate seminar introduces students to core concepts in linguistic anthropology (such as indexicality, iconicity, qualia, language ideologies, interdiscursivity, voicing), to explore the themes of narrative and storytelling. Readings address: narrating the self, relationality, illness and well-being, race, gender, law, and anthropological storytelling.

Assigned texts include:
H. Samy Alim et al (eds), Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas About Race
Paul Manning, Love Stories: Language, Private Love, and Public Romance in Georgia
Norma Mendoza-Denton, Homegirls: Language and Cultural Practice Among Latina Youth Gangs
Aaron Fox, Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture
E. Summerson Carr, Scripting Addiction: The Politics of Therapeutic Talk and American Sobriety
Ruth Behar, Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys
Lisa Capps and Elinor Ochs, Constructing Panic: The Discourse of Agoraphobia


Professor Kathryn Goldfarb

See the University Catalog for specifics, recommendations, and prerequisites.