2016-2017 Catalog

Writing in the Discipline - Anthropology

Anthropology seeks to understand what it is to be human from a holistic perspective: through distant and recent time, globally across space, and comparatively between human and nonhuman groups. Anthropologists study humans as biological beings wholly dependent on culture, behavior that is acquired by being a member of a group. Intuitively the discipline overlaps with the other social and behavioral sciences, the humanities and the arts. But anthropology also overlaps extensively with the natural sciences: biology, geology and physics. 


Because it is such a broad discipline, it is divided into four (sometimes five) essential sub-disciplines: Cultural Anthropology, Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and Anthropological Linguistics. Students take courses in all of the sub-fields, thus learning a broad base of content, methodologies, theoretical perspectives and writing conventions.


The following courses are required of all majors; writing instruction occurs in all of these courses (as well as others) as a developmental process throughout the major. Below is a much abbreviated overview of kinds of writing instruction that occurs in these courses. Although courses 101-104 are not geared solely towards majors (and therefore fall outside of a strict WID paradigm) students are introduced to and instructed on academic and scientific writing and their conventions. Later courses in the major build on these broad foundations. 

ANTH 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Students carry out both formal and informal writing assignments throughout the course. Formal writing assignments introduce them to research-related and analytical conventions for writing in the field. The former include strategies for writing up field notes and/or interviews; the latter include critical reflections on readings. 

ANTH 102: Introduction to Archaeology: Writing instruction occurs throughout the course, in both formal and informal writing assignments. Some of the writing instruction focuses on archaeological description of material culture, while other papers are more qualitative. Instruction is given on appropriate scholarly formatting of papers and choice and use of academic sources. Students may be asked to submit multiple drafts of some papers, responding to feedback from peers and/or the instructor. 

ANTH 103: Introduction to Biological Anthropology: In this course students learn to collect a behavioral data set, organize it in an ethogram, which takes the form of a highly detailed and descriptive outline. The writing instruction focuses on the organization and presentation of data and scientific writing conventions.

ANTH 104: Introduction to Anthropological Linguistics: In an individual, hands-on project students observe and record a portion of natural speech, using the International Phonetic Alphabet and the conventions of linguistic analysis that demonstrate the difference between speech and written language. 

ANTH 233: Methods in Anthropology: In this course students will complete mini-research papers. Some of the papers will include instruction on humanistic and/or descriptive writing styles; other projects will address formulaic scientific writing conventions, including tabular and graphic presentations of data. Larger projects will be broken into their components, with the opportunity for instruction on writing and presentation at each stage. There will be opportunity for revision on some papers.

ANTH 460: Senior Seminar (Capstone Experience): In this course it is assumed that students have essential mastery of the writing conventions learned in previous courses. A senior paper is assigned in which students move through a series of stages or drafts of the thesis, receive feedback and polish their writing skills. Students learn to articulate a more significant scientific argument, complete more in-depth research and produce a more comprehensive and holistic thesis.