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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Undergraduate Course: The Anthropology of Language (SCAN10076)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to the study of language as social practice. The first half of the course engages with theoretical approaches to the social aspects of language drawn from philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology. The second half of the course utilizes these theoretical approaches to explore ethnographically specific case studies in the anthropology of language.
Course description The emphasis of this course will be on showing how anthropology and comparative studies have enriched our understanding of the dynamic of language, and how engagement with the subject 'language', and with other disciplines concerned with this subject, have historically influenced anthropological thinking beyond language. Students will be introduced to a range of different anthropological approaches to the study of language, and to a variety of interests that have led anthropologists to take an interest in language and literary activity. The course demonstrates that in addition to communicating social reality through diverse mediums and strategies (attention is drawn to description, illustration, evocation and performance; to speech and to writing), language plays a role in constituting social reality. Language has therefore relevance for a broad range of general concerns and specialized interest, and this applies for both scholarship and social and political action. Connections that will be explored include the intersections with processes of literacy, gender, statecraft, political resistance, and institutions of justice. These issues will be taught through a mixture of lectures, class discussions, and tutorials, with the emphasis being on encouraging students to bring to bear analytical concepts taught in the first half of the course upon the ethnographic case studies taught in the second half.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical understanding of the main areas of study linked to language as social practice.
  2. Engage critically with the work of a variety of scholars across anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics, and evaluate their arguments.
  3. Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues in the politics of language.
  4. Develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments surrounding language as social practice.
Reading List
Ahearn, Laura. 2012. Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Duranti, Alessandro. 1997. Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kroskrity, Paul. (ed.) 2000. Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Oxford: James Currey.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:
- analysing evidence and using this to develop and support a line of argument,
- presenting information visually and orally,
- understanding the role of language in social life
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Casey High
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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