Fall 2011 Courses

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During the Fall 2011 semester Professors Marcie Cohen Ferris, William Ferris, Bernie Herman, and Jocelyn Neal are on leave. We are fortunate to welcome recent Indiana University Folklore PhD, Danille Christensen, and University of Missouri Distinguished Professor of Folklore, English, and Women’s Studies, Elaine Lawless (the Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor), to our teaching ranks for the 2011-12 academic year.  As usual, the Department of American Studies and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke also offer a course by the Lehman Brady Visiting Professor in Documentary Studies, this semester, Charlie Thompson of CDS.

FOLK 202/ENGL 202 INTRODUCTION TO FOLKLORE
Patricia Sawin (sawin@unc.edu)
MW 12:00-12:50
Discussion sections: 601: F 12:00-12:50; 602: R 12:30-1:20; 603: F 10:00-10:50; 604: R 2:00-2:50

In daily life, we all draw upon skills and ideas we’ve learned through observation, imitation, and practice.  Consciously or not, each of us incorporates existing patterns into the ways we interact with and communicate with those around us.  By means of our personal choices and actions, each of us also changes these patterns slightly, making traditions or customs our own.   Folklorists study these informal processes and the materials thereby communicated and transformed, that is, the materials we come to think of as vernacular or traditional culture.  By focusing in particular on the aesthetic aspects of vernacular culture—on patterns of expression that appeal to the senses—folklorists seek to understand how people interpret and make sense of the world.  The study of folklore asks how, in a world flooded with commercial and highly refined cultural products, people use those particular materials that they themselves create and re-shape in order to express who they are, where they belong, and what they value.  In this course we will look at diverse forms (or “genres”) of folklore, including song, architecture, legend, and food.  We will consider how vernacular expressive culture is learned, what it does for people, and why these processes and products persist through time and space.  Students will be introduced to the discipline of Folklore’s central research methodology, ethnography, and have an opportunity to practice that approach in individual and group research projects.

AMST 375 FOOD IN AMERICAN CULTURE
Danille Christensen (NA)
TR 12:30-1:45

This course examines the meaning of food in America. Unit I introduces basic terms, texts, and approaches that help us think about how food communicates and what people have used it to say. Unit II, “Food Rules,” looks at the ways individuals, institutions, and cultures regulate food consumption—that is, who decides what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food, when, and for whom? Here, we’ll consider diet recommendations, access to food in prisons, table manners, religious dietary codes, and boundary lines of various cuisines. Unit III, “Food Chains,” systematically explores food production, processing, display, and consumption, suggesting the social and environmental implications of different models at each stage of the food chain.

As we move through the semester, we’ll see how food shapes national, regional, and personal identity; we’ll also consider how region, gender, ethnicity, class, race, religion, the media, global politics, and corporate America affect the food we eat.  You’ll draw on your own experience and also examine a variety of sources—including cookbooks, recipes, film, literature, art, photography, and other artifacts—to develop an understanding of food in American culture.

RELI 428/ANTH 428/FOLK 428 RELIGION AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Todd Ochoa and Jonathan Boyarin (tochoa@email.unc.edu; NA)
T 5:00-7:50

Religion studied anthropologically as a cultural, social, and psychological phenomenon in the works of classical and contemporary social thought.

ANTH 429/ASIA 429/FOLK 429 CULTURE AND POWER IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Lorraine Aragon
(aragon2@email.unc.edu)
MWF 2:00-2:50

The formation and transformation of values, identities, and expressive forms in Southeast Asia in response to forms of power.   Emphasis on the impact of colonialism, the nation-state, and globalization.

ANTH 435/CMPL 435/FOLK 435 CONSCIOUSNESS AND SYMBOL
James L. Peacock (peacock@unc.edu)
MWF 12:00-12:50

Discussion Sections: 601: M 2:00-2:50; 602: W 3:00-3:50; 603: R 3:30-4:20

This course explores consciousness through symbols.   Symbols from religion, art, politics, and self are studied in social, psychological, historical, and ecological context to ascertain meanings in experience and behavior.

AMST 466 YOU ARE WHERE YOU LIVE: THE AMERICAN HOUSE IN CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE
Katherine Roberts (katrober@email.unc.edu)
TR 11:00-12:15

This course is designed to attune students to the complexities of human shelter.  We will begin our journey by studying the development of several national and regional housing types in the U.S. and the environmental and socio-political factors that contributed to their formation.  From shotguns to ranches to mobile homes and more, we will learn about how domestic forms in the built environment have contributed to American cultural landscapes—past and present.  In addition, we will explore the social use and meaning of housing and examine the strategies people use to create “homes” out of built forms.  Finally, we consider several larger issues associated with housing in the U.S., including affordability, sustainability and gentrification.  By the end of the course, students should be able to understand the built environment as a form of communication, capable of revealing what we value as individuals and communities and as a nation, and to critically evaluate the ways in which housing mediates power relations in the U.S.

ANTH 470/FOLK 470 MEDICINE AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Michele Rivkin-Fish
(mrfish@unc.edu)
TR 9:30-10:45

This course examines cultural understandings of health, illness, and medical systems from an anthropological perspective with a special focus on western medicine.

ANTH 473/FOLK 473 ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE BODY AND SUBJECT
William Lachicotte
(william_lachicotte@med.unc.edu)
MW 5:00-6:15

Anthropological and historical studies of cultural constructions of bodily experience and subjectivity are reviewed, with emphasis on the genesis of the modern individual and cultural approaches to gender and sexuality.

FOLK 487/ENGL 487 FOLK NARRATIVE
Patricia Sawin (sawin@unc.edu)
MWF 10:00-10:50

To be human is to tell stories, to use words to order events in a sequence in hopes of imparting meaning.  Some of these stories recount what really happened to us or to people we know.  Others allow us to revel in the fanciful while exploring our fondest dreams or deepest fears.  Some stories seem to encapsulate what is unique about a particular time, place, or culture.  Others are found, with minor variations, in widely separated places and times.  Through telling and listening to stories we share knowledge, figure out who we are and what we might become, and stretch our imaginations.  These days we have seemingly limitless access to stories offered in the highly produced, dramatized versions of TV and movies as well as the fragmentary, barely processed material of raw events in YouTube footage, Facebook postings, and tweets.  And yet people continue to be fascinated by each other’s stories of personal experience shared face to face and by “traditional” stories assumed to be out of fashion when they were first collected a couple of hundred years ago.  So, in this course we ask: What is the appeal of these stories? What makes a good story? What is “traditional” about stories transformed so many times for so many reasons and why does that matter? What more can we learn from the stories around us if we learn to listen carefully?

FOLK 490.001 Topics in Folklore: ETHNOGRAPHIC WRITING
Elaine Lawless (Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor)
TR 3:30-4:45

This course focuses on the process of writing ethnography.  Students will also do  ethnographic fieldwork during the semester, but the emphasis of the course is on how fieldwork is “written up” as ethnographic texts.  Discussions center around field notes, journaling, and scholarly texts that evolve out of those earlier writings.  Focus of the course will be on how ethnographic writing has taken a creative turn in recent years challenging notions of objectivity and moving toward more creative writings.  Texts for the course will include books on the ethnographic eye as well as particular works based on field research including Clifford and Marcus, Writing Culture; Behar and Gordon, Women Writing Culture; Meyerhoff, Number our Days; Brown, Mama Lola; Lawless, Women Escaping Violence and others.

AMST 499.001 Advanced Seminar in American Studies/FOLK 690.001 Studies in Folklore: POLITICS OF FOOD
Charles D. Thompson, Jr. (Education and Curriculum Director, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University)–Lehman Brady Visiting Professor in Documentary Studies
W 3:30-5:50

Explores the food system through fieldwork among food and farming community members, including farmers, nutritionists, sustainable agriculture advocates, rural organizers, and farmworker activists.  Examines how food is produced; seeks to identify and understand its workers and working conditions in fields and factories, and using documentary research conducted in the field and other means, unpacks major current issues in the food justice arena globally and locally. Fieldwork required but no advanced technological experience necessary.  Work from the course will help build connections in food and farm studies at UNC and Duke by way of the Triangle University Food Studies network and website.

FOLK 550 INTRODUCTION TO MATERIAL CULTURE
Danille Christensen (NA)
TR 3:30-4:45

Why (and to whom?) are objects meaningful?  Material things—houses, pottery, grave markers—can provide historical insight into the rhythms and concerns of daily life in the past. But they’re also lenses for understanding people’s values in the present. Yardscapes, clothing, state fair entries, embellished automobiles, home décor, ritual meals, DIY projects, laundry lines—all communicate assumptions, preferences, and goals, and they help direct the course of our habits and interactions.  Combining scholarly arguments with first-hand field research, in F550 you’ll investigate material things as historical records, as shapers of human behavior, and as forms of cultural expression. Open to students at all levels; no previous experience necessary.  Fulfills the Visual and Performing Arts requirement.

FOLK 610/AFAM610 VERNACULAR TRADITIONS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC
Glenn Hinson (ghinson@unc.edu)
TR 9:30-10:45

Explores performance traditions in African American music, tracing the music’s development from African song through blues, jazz, gospel, and contemporary vernacular expression.   Focuses on continuity, creativity, and change within African American aesthetics.

ANTH 688/RELI 688/FOLK 688 OBSERVATION AND INTERPRETATION OF RELIGIOUS ACTION

Lauren Leve (leve@email.unc.edu)
T 2:00-4:50

Exercises (including fieldwork) in learning to read the primary modes of public action in religious traditions, e.g., sermons, testimonies, rituals, and prayers. (Permission of the instructor required.)

FOLK 790 PUBLIC FOLKLORE
Glenn Hinson (ghinson@unc.edu)
TR 12:30-1:45

(Please note that time and place have been changed from earlier announcements).

A graduate seminar addressing theory and praxis in public sector cultural work.   Focusing on public folklore, this course explores broad issues of representation, cultural politics, and cultural tourism.

COMM 841/FOLK 841 PERFORMANCE ETHNOGRAPHY
Renee Alexander Craft (
renee.alexander.craft@unc.edu)
T 6:00-8:30 pm

This seminar focuses on methods of ethnography and fieldwork ethics. Performance as theory and practice informs methodological inquiries as well as the analysis of specific ethnographic texts and case studies.

COMM 843/FOLK 843 SEMINAR IN PROBLEMS IN CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE THEORY: SEMINAR IN PERFORMANCE AND HISTORY
Della Pollock (pollock@email.unc.edu)
R 12:30-3:15

An advanced graduate seminar, this course will address recent developments and problems in performance theory.  It will consider cross- and multidisciplinary approaches to performance as sites for consideration and debate.

FOLK 850 APPROACHES TO FOLKLORE THEORY
Katherine Roberts (katrober@email.unc.edu)
TR 2:00-3:15

A systematic overview of the major issues and perspectives informing two centuries of folklore study.