Course Spotlight: Literary Ethnography

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.10.07 AM_0Course Description

This graduate-level methods seminar is an intensive introduction to reading and writing “new ethnographies”—what H. L. Goodall calls an “emerging, alternative style of qualitative writing” that “combines the personal and the professional, … work that may be rendered as a story …, or an account that derives rhetorical force from blurring or blending of literary genres.” Taking a discourse-centered approach to culture and to writing as a form of qualitative analysis, students will explore theories and examples of autoethnographies, autobiographies, ethnographic fiction, poetry, and drama, and literary ethnographies. Main examples will include writing by Africans and Africanists, but students working in other world areas are welcome. Important themes will include language, voice, dialogic research, transcription, and translation. The course will help students whose primary interests are in literature, languages, and second language acquisition to gain expertise in ethnographic research practices and evocative writing. Seminar meetings will involve both discussion of readings and workshopping participants’ writing.

Sample Readings

  • Galman, Sally Campbell. 2007. Shane, the Lone Ethnographer: A Beginner’s Guide to Ethnography. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
  • Gibb, Camilla. 2005. Sweetness in the Belly. Toronto: Doubleday Canada.
  • Goodall, H. Lloyd. 2000. Writing the New Ethnography. Ethnographic Alternatives 7. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.
  • Stoller, Paul, and Cheryl Olkes. 1987. In Sorcery’s Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship among the Songhay of Niger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Enrollment details

African Languages and Literature 925: Seminary in Field Methods in African Languages and Literature – Literary Ethnography
3 credits
T 2:25-5:25pm, 849 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Katrina Daly Thompson is an associate professor in African Languages and Literature. She specializes in linguistic ethnography and discourse analysis, and has conducted research in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.