Instructor: Prof. Kira Hall
W 11:30-2:00, 285 Hellems

Linguistic anthropology, one of the four classic subfields of anthropology, seeks to analyze culture and society ethnographically and theoretically as they emerge through language and discourse. This graduate-level introduction to the field examines language as a form of action through which social relations and cultural forms are constituted. The seminar is organized around key concepts of central importance to contemporary linguistic anthropologists, among them diversity, embodiment, enregisterment, expertise, indexicality, intentionality, intersubjectivity, language evolution, mobility, modernity, narrative, ontology, relativity, scale, stance, performance, performativity, qualia, variation, and voice. Because social subjectivity is produced, challenged, and affirmed through linguistic practice, the readings required for the course view speakers and hearers as embedded within complex relations of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will explore issues that have enduring as well as trending importance to research and discussion in linguistic anthropology, such as language, nationalism, and postcolonialism; categorization, ontology, and worldview; models of language as action; language in ritual, performance, and taboo; language in politics; language and new media; the human-animal communication divide; the emergence of identity in interaction; sociocultural views on language documentation and endangerment; linguistic variation; new links between linguistic and medical anthropology; and language under neoliberalism and intensified globalization.
This seminar has several goals: (1) to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the historical development of theory and practice in the field of linguistic anthropology; (2) to equip students with the analytic tools necessary to understand and evaluate contemporary research in linguistic anthropology; (3) to explore the potential of ethnography for sociocultural linguistic analysis more generally; and (4) to bring students to a critical awareness of the place of language in the constitution of social, cultural, and political relations.
(Note: Students may register for this course through either Anthropology or Linguistics. The course may also be taken a second time for credit; the readings and topics shift each time it is taught to reflect current developments in the field.)