This course provides an introduction to the methods and insights of linguistic anthropology, a sub-field of anthropology devoted to the study of language and communicative interaction as social and political processes. Drawing on a range of ethnographic case studies, students will learn to recognize the sociocultural function of language and the ways that experiences, identities, relationships, and statuses like race, class, and gender are structured through communicative activities. Topics of study will range from language socialization, speech communities, multilingualism, codeswitching, dialects, gesture, emojis, and semiotics, the study of signs and meaning. Additionally, students will engage with linguistic-themed works of speculative fiction by Ted Chiang, China Mieville, and Ai Jiang to grapple with course themes including belonging, exclusion, identity, and translation. Students will gain the opportunity to conduct their own semester-long research project on a speech community or linguistic phenomenon of their choosing using the tools of the course to reflect on their experiences.
Language & Culture through Speculative Fiction