Fall 2004

SOCS 628 (WMST)
Women Writing Culture

Ulysse,Gina Athena

09/13/2004 - 12/18/2004
Tuesday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

This course considers the impact of the interpretive turn in anthropology, which begain with Clifford Geertz's claim, in The Interpretation of Culture, that culture is but a "web of meaning" and the ethnographer's research findings are but mere interpretations. This eventually spurred a moment in the theoretical trajectory of the discipline referred to as a "crisis of representation." How did this turn affect ethnographic writing? To explore this question, we will focus on how feminist interpretations of culture have (dis)placed the ethnographer and the making of

ethnography. By reading various ethnographic works in depth, we will explore the broader academic context of such issues as the gendered division of labor and the politics of knowledge production, relevance of Donna Haraway's assertion that all knowledge is situated, Catherine Lutz's discussion of theory as gendered, and Faye Harrison's analysis of academic relations of production. Through inspection of textual strategies that include issues of positionality, ethical dilemmas, and the politics of representation, we will explore how conventional ethnographies maintain hegemony, in order that we may gain greater understanding of how different feminists respond to this hegemony.

In this course, we will reposition Zora Neale Hurston as one of the earliest ethnographers to blur genres. We will engage other ethnographers who trouble the boundaries between literature and social science. Some attention will be paid to anthropologists who turn to arts to express the full range of their perceptions and interpretations. Our ultimate aim is to question seriously what it means to choose to write on the margins, to write against ethnographic hegemony, and in the process attempt to answer why creative or nonconventional works tend to be

produced mostly by marginal individuals in the discipline of anthropology.

Texts for the course will include Ruth Behar's TRANSLATED WOMAN; Karen McCarthy Brown's MAMA LOLA; Marisol de la Cadena's INDIGENOUS MESTIZOS; Donna Golstein's LAUGHTER OUT OF PLACE; Zora Neale Hurston's TELL MY HORSE;

Carolyn Martin Shaw's COLONIAL INSCRIPTIONS; Rosario Montoya's GENDER'S PLACE; Anna Tsing's IN THE REALM OF THE DIAMOND QUEEN; and Mary Weismentel's CHOLAS AND PISTACHIOS.

Student grades will be based on in-class participation,

two short papers (5--10 pages), and a final writing culture project (15 pages).


Gina Ulysse (B.A. Upsala College; M.A., Ph.D. University of Michigan) is assistant professor of anthropology and African American studies. She is author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commericial Importing and Self-Making in Jamaica (forthcoming), and her many articles include "Cracking the Silence on Reflexivity: Negotiating Identities, Fieldwork and the Dissertation in Ann Arbor and Kingston," in Decolonizing the Academy: Diaspora Theory and African New World Studies, edited by Carol Boyce-Davies (Princeton: Africa World Press, 2003). Click here for more information about Gina Ulysse.


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Ruth Behar & Deborah Gordon, WOMEN WRITING CULTURE (University of California Press), Paperback

Ruth Behar, TRANSLATED WOMAN (Beacon Press), Paperback

Karen McCarthy Brown, MAMA LOLA (Univeristy of Califnornia Press), Paperback

Marisol de la Cadena, INDIGENOUS MESTIZOS (Duke University Press), Paperback

Donna Golstein, LAUGHTER OUT OF PLACE (University of California Press), Paperback

Zora Neale Hurston, TELL MY HORSE (Turtle Island Books), Paperback

Carolyn Martin Shaw, COLONIAL INSCRIPTIONS (University of Minnesota Press), Paperback

Mary Weismantel, CHOLAS AND PISHTACOS (University of Chicago Press), Paperback

Kath Weston, FAMILIES WE CHOOSE (Columbia University Press), Paperback

READING MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323

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