Field Methods in Linguistic Anthropology
ANTH 305 - Spring 2016
Tuesdays 4:00-6:30 pm; Bailey 110
Instructor Jennifer R. Guzmán, PhD
Office hours Bailey 108, Mondays 2:30-4:00, Tuesdays 12:45-2:15, and by appointment. Feel free to visit office hours to discuss any questions you have about course content, assignments, or your academic progress.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to email questions that can be answered briefly. If you have a complex question or situation, please visit me during office hours. I read e-mail Monday-Friday. Allow 1-2 days for a response. When sending email, include ANTH 305 and a topic in the subject line.
Office Phone (585) 245-5174
Course TA Angus McCrumb (email@example.com)
This course introduces students to the field methods that sociolinguists, applied linguists, and linguistic anthropologists use to document language use in situ. Students will learn the basic steps in developing a research question and building competencies in field methods that include: participant observation, field note taking, mapping spaces, photography, videography, interviewing, transcription, and basic analysis. A one-day workshop will introduce students to elicitation methods that are used by documentation linguists in the field. Students will learn how to look and listen, to analyze what they see and hear, and then how to present their findings through various presentation media. Through discussion of course readings and the experience of carrying out a project, students will explore, as holistically as possible, how communities use language and other semiotic resources in their everyday interactions to organize their worlds and construct meaning in their lives.
Please bring each day’s readings (and your notes about them) with you to class. You will need to refer to them regularly during class.
Classes will have 3 components: 1) review of students’ ethnographic assignments, 2) discussion of readings, and 3) introduction to ethnographic methodologies relevant to upcoming assignments.
General Class Assignment:
Write up 2 typed pages of field notes following each weekly field site visit as a Word file. Fieldnotes will first be written as part of Week 5’s assignment, “Entering the Field.” Turn in all of your field notes together as a ‘field journal’ with final project and paper. I may also request your field notebook a few times during the semester.
Participation & Attendance:
Engaged participation in class every week is crucial to success in this class. Students are expected to come to class having read all of the required readings and prepared to discuss the material each week. Students will also be expected to present their fieldwork assignments on a weekly basis. If you miss a class, you must still turn in the assignment for that week; unexcused absences will negatively impact your final grade. Late assignments will be penalized one-half grade per day (a B will become a B-). This is a labor-intensive course, but you will come out of this class having conducted original research on language practices in a particular community, an accomplishment that you can report in graduate school and job applications.
Field note journal
Final project presentation
Grading: Grading for this class follows the standards for letter grading described in the Geneseo Undergraduate Bulletin:
A / A- Excellent work
B+, B, B- Very good work
C / C+ Satisfactory work (note that work fulfilling all stipulated requirements and turned in on time may fall in this category)
C- Work demonstrating minimal competence
D Marginal work
E (failure) Inadequate work
Other possible grades are: P (pass), F (fail), S (satisfactory), U (unsatisfactory), and W (withdrawn). Consult the Bulletin for details about these latter grades.
Accommodation: If you need classroom accommodations due to a documented or suspected learning difference, please contact Dean Buggie-Hunt (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and bring me a letter outlining the accommodations you require. Do so as early as possible.
You are responsible for abiding by the SUNY Geneseo policies on academic honesty. http://bulletin.geneseo.edu/first/?pg=01_Student_Affairs_policies.html
Readings and assignments are due on the date they are listed. Schedule subject to change as needed.
January 19 WELCOME & INTRODUCTIONS
In class: Introductions & course overview
Review of Center on Everyday Lives of Families research methods
Read excerpts from “On Looking” by Horowitz
Watch short interview of Alexandra Horowitz discussing “On Looking”
January 26 WHAT IS ETHNOGRAPHY? WHAT IS LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGICAL FIELDWORK?
a) “Learning to see” - Take a 20-minute walk around any location, jotting down everything that you see. Then take two or three others on separate walks, jotting down what they tell you that they are seeing and what you see them do during their walk. Type up two to three paragraphs summarizing how you viewed the environment differently than the two/three others that accompanied you on their walks. Bring your typed up notes with you to class.
b) Bring in 3-5 ideas for possible projects. Bring a hard copy or have on your laptop: Sunstein and Chiseri. FieldWorking. Choosing a Site. PDF. You don’t have to read this ahead of class.
c) Bring in a hard copy of several questions you have about the readings (preferably one from each of the readings).
February 2 WHAT IS A LINGUISTIC (ANTHROPOLOGY) PROJECT? WHAT ARE OUR ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS TO THE PEOPLE WE WORK WITH?
(a) We will further discuss possible subcultures/field sites and students will aim to make a decision about a group they would like to follow. Come to class with ideas about which aspects of the subcultures you would like to analyze.
(b) Bring a typed response containing at least one thoughtful comment OR question for EACH of the required readings. Comments should discuss a piece of information that was new, surprising or thought-provoking for you. Include WHY you thought it was interesting or significant. Questions should pertain to something that either you did not understand, did not agree with, or something that you would like to know more about and would be interested in exploring further during class discussion. These comments and questions give you the chance to make judgments and think critically about the articles. We will discuss some responses and questions in class.
(c) In addition, each student will read an article or chapter in the “selected readings” listed below, and come to class prepared to give a brief summary (no more than 5-8 minutes) explaining to the class:
This exercise is not to test students on their summary skills but to give the class an overview of various topics, methods, and ethical issues involved in field research.
(d) Complete the “Protecting Human Research Participants” online training module (https://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php). Bring a copy of your certificate of completion to class.
Selected readings: Sign up to read & present ONE of the following to the class
13. Goodwin and Goodwin. Emotion within Situated Activity.
16. Morgan, M. No Woman No Cry. Claiming African American Women’s Place.
February 9 PREPARING FOR AND ENTERING THE FIELD
(a) Students will make their final decision about which subculture they will be studying and will have gained access to their field site.
(b) Gather three scholarly sources related to your field site or subculture and briefly summarize the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or two sentences explaining how this work may illuminate your topic. You are not expected to have read each source in full by this date, but read as much as possible in order to determine if it could be helpful to use as a resource for your ethnographic analysis. Investigating the broader context of a subculture or field site enables one to start gaining a better understanding of how communication may work within that community. This exercise also helps one to start thinking about ways of testing and creating theories related to the subculture one is studying. Type up the annotated bibliography and bring it to class.
(c) Write TWO thoughtful comments or questions (following the rules specified above) incorporating at least TWO of the Week 4 readings for class discussion (ALL readings are required readings however). Send in responses to email@example.com by 5PM, Tues., Feb. 12.
Class Exercise: Introduction to fieldwork: permissions, protecting the people you observe, identity and positionality (i.e. subjectivity), becoming ‘invisible’ etc.
February 16 PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION AND FIELDNOTES
(a) Write 250-300 words about how you entered the community you are studying and reflect on the consequences of the choices you made in entering in the way that you did. Turn in during class.
(b) After visiting and observing in your field site for about 2 hours (this may vary depending on subculture), write 3 pages of typed notes describing in detail your field site, participants and activities within it. List any initial patterns of behavior that you see.
(c) Send in two comments or questions from Week 5 readings to the instructor by email by noon on the day of class.
Class Exercise: (a) Discussion of reports of field entry and readings; (b) Introduction to participant observation of an activity and note-taking.
February 23 MAPPING SPACE, TRACKING USE OF SPACE
(a) Observe an activity in your field site (between 30 minutes to an hour), taking detailed notes. Try to choose an activity that enables you to see the start and finish of it. Write your notes and impressions as a field journal entry and bring to class.
(b) Type 250- 500 words describing the activity, any patterns you see in language or behavior, and their possible cultural meanings. Bring to class.
(c) Post two comments or questions from Week 6 readings.
Class Exercise: (a) Discussion of participant observation and note-taking assignments; (b) Introduction to visual documentation of field site and systematic observations of activities and uses of objects and space
March 1 PHOTOGRAPHY IN DATA COLLECTION
(a) Return to your field site. Draw a map of a centrally relevant spatial environment, including major objects and features that are essential to the social life of the site. Bring digitized map to class (can be a scan of a hand drawing).
(b) Systematically document field site participants’ locations and activities every 5 minutes for 60 minutes. Graphically display the results. One figure/table should convey % of observations in which each participant is located in particular spaces. A second figure/table should convey % of observations in which each participant is engaged in particular activities. Bring in digitized form to class to present.
(c) Type up a brief description (200 words) of how participants are using space according to your analysis.
In class we will look at excerpts from:
March 8 PHOTO ANALYSIS AND REPRESENTATION
(a) Use photography to document activity-relevant spatial environments in relation to how they are used. Select 5 digital photos to show and discuss in class.
(b) Use photography to document material objects at your field site. Select 5 digital photos to show and discuss in class.
(c) Use photography to document activities and/or participants in the midst of interactions and activities at your field site. Select 5 digital photos to show and discuss in class.
Class Exercise: (a) Review photography, maps, and tracking assignment; (b) Hands-on use of video camera; ethnographic filmmaking.
March 15 – No class - SPRING BREAK
March 22 VIDEOGRAPHY DURING DATA COLLECTION
a) Go back to your field site and do another photo shoot applying what you have learned about composition, lighting, shutter speed, etc.
b) Write up one paragraph describing your “working” storyline.
c) Choose 8-10 photos that support your storyline, including an establishing shot, people and objects in space, activities and interaction
d) Write a one-sentence caption for each photo that explains the photo while also supporting the main story. Each photo should have a purpose for being there.
e) Bring photo-essay to class to present
March 29 VIDEO EDITING: DOING ETHNOGRAPHY THROUGH FILM
Assignment due :
(a) Film establishing shots, pans, tilts, wide shots, close-ups, zooms, tracking shots, two-person and one-person shots, plus a short relevant activity from two different angles to probe how the position of the camera and microphone makes different phenomena salient.
(b) Tour the field site with at least one participant narrating activities, objects and space to achieve a better understanding of the social and material worlds that participants inhabit (either you or your participant can hold the camera while participant gives the tour)
(c) Review your clips, select and label 2 brief establishing shots, pans, tilts, wide shots, close-ups, zooms, tracking shots, two-person and one-person shots and 30 seconds each from the two different angles in which you filmed an activity. Edit 1- 2 minutes from the tour that is most relevant to your project. Show and discuss clips in class. Total footage should be less than 5 minutes.
Class Exercise: (a) Review filming assignment; (b) Introduction to video editing
April 5 INTERVIEWING
Assignment due: “A day in the life” Anthropological film assignment due. Assignment will be discussed further as due date approaches.
In-class activity: (a) review film editing assignment, (b) introduce interviewing methods, (c) review interview protocols from CELF and CADS studies as models for semi-structured interviewing.
April 12 TRANSCRIPTION, FRAMEGRABS, AND SUBTITLING
(a) Prepare a limited set of questions or themes for an interview that explore some dimension of a participant’s life in relation to the social group and research questions you are studying.
(b) Video or audio record the interview
(c) Transcribe brief segments of the interview that reveal significant reflections.
(d) Create a Word file highlighting the relevance of these reflections along with the corresponding brief transcript segments.
Class Exercise: (a) Review interview assignment; (b) Introduction to transcription, subtitling, and beyond.
April 19 LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS
(a) Using Word transcribe about 3 minutes of verbal and non-verbal interaction of an activity according to CA conventions. You may choose to transcribe several smaller clips of a particular linguistic feature that is repeated over the interaction(s) (e.g. greetings, directives, gossip, etc.)
(b) Select 2-3 key framegrabs from the video segment and incorporate them into your transcript.
(c) Print a hard copy and bring it into class to discuss.
(d) Using Inqscribe, subtitle 1 minute of the sequence. Export and bring the subtitled clip to class.
(e) Bring to class a list of 3 linguistic features that are salient in your participants’ interactions, in other words, communicative practices that make up the “Grammar of (your subculture)”. Give the class examples.
April 26 WRITING UP MICRO-MACRO LINKAGES
Analyze the ‘Grammar of (Subculture)’ to describe both the verbal and non-verbal communicative resources people use on a day-to-day basis to actively construct their community.
(a) Choose 3 subthemes
Language/Practices of aggression and intensity
Language/Practices of support and encouragement
Language/Practices of hierarchy
(b) Under each of these three subthemes, break it down even further into 3 communicative practices that make up this grammar
(c) You must give an example of each communicative practice that was displayed in natural interaction in your footage/audiorecordings. TRANSCRIBE the talk and non-verbal communication that exemplifies your point using CA conventions.
(d) Include framegrabs if they help prove your point (and if it is a non-verbal communicative practice, then you must include the framegrab). Try to transcribe the talk surrounding the non-verbal practice.
(e) Set up each linguistic practice with a sentence or two that tells us how each linguistic/non-verbal practice relates to the larger subtheme and your project.
Week 15 BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
(a) Prepare a bibliography of 10 references relevant to your analysis.
(b) In 750 - 1000 words, situate the linguistic practices you are seeking to understand in terms of the broader socio-cultural structures, ideologies, processes, theories, etc. Use this assignment to talk more about the themes that you have set up in your linguistic analysis, and then go deeper and broader, linking people's everyday words and practices to larger theories that you have either created or have read in the literature that you have already talked about or in the literature that you still need to find.
SHOWTIME! Presentations of final projects: Tuesday, May 10, 7:00-9:30 pm, Bailey 110.