Course Requirements (Spring 2021)

Resources for Assignments:

Late Paper Policy: Deadlines are strict. Barring personal crisis, family emergency, or illness (please let me know ahead of time), all late papers will be subject to one half grade point off (out of 10) per day late. I do not give paper extensions for time management issues. I also cannot guarantee detailed comments for late assignments.

Course Organization:

Classes will revolve around discussions and analyses of course readings and video clips. The main requirement is a semester-long field project, Investigating Language Politics in Portland, in which we will focus on issues related to policing, courts, immigration, education, housing or governance in Portland and the larger municipal area. As part of the project, there will be in-class presentations as well as jointly and individually submitted writing assignments. I will expect your avid participation--including regular attendance, prompt completion of assignments, and active involvement in your research pairs and in class discussions. In fact, class participation and attendance will comprise a significant portion of your grade.

Reading and writing assignments are meant to encourage close, critical engagement with the history and cultural politics of linguistic processes in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as your thoughtful reflection on the issues they raise in the context of the anthropological perspective on language, culture and power presented in class. The reading load is moderate and it is assigned per week. On average, you should expect to put in two to three hours of work outside of class for every hour of in-class time.

Weekly further readings, links and related films are provided online for your use. These materials are are especially relevant or provide differing viewpoints; they offer points of departure for deepening your understanding of particular issues. 

Required readings are marked on the syllabus for where they can be found. Many books are available in the bookstore. In addition, all required readings are available on-line, through ereserves. Ereserves can be accessed via the course Moodle page. Please let me know if you have any trouble obtaining the readings. To facilitate discussion, you should have all the readings for the day and your notes ready to consult during class.


1) Discussion leadership and avid participation in class and in research pairs (40%)

  • Participation includes: Regular and prompt attendance, engaged discussion, in-class workshop participation, and Moodle forum contribution (as scheduled discussants), responsible and responsive research partnering and blog commentary online and in class, engaged and well-prepped discussion facilitation, research assignments in on time.
  • In-class Workshop Transcript and Field Descriptions: (6%) uploaded as pairs to Moodle the Friday after workshop.
  • In-class AV and Ethics Workshop Tuesday Feb 8

2) Semester-long Research Project: Investigating Language Politics in Portland  (60%)

  • Research pairs choose fieldsite(s) (public, usually online meetings at a Portland govt or NGO organization related to policing, courts, immigration, education or governance);
  • Attend at least 2 meetings over the semester in realtime, either via Zoom or in person, socially distanced and masked (at least one before week 7, optionally, you can add a third that is pre-recorded), record the meeting, and write four "Field Commentaries" (each partner writes two).
  • Post 4 Field Commentaries and Upload a Research Proposal: (30%) Research pairs post four Field Commentaries over the course of the semester to their Moodle Commentary Blog forum, two authored by one person, while the other person comments, and vice versa. These will be shared with the class.
    • Friday Feb 12, 7 pm Research pairs upload a 1-2 page (~500 words) Research Proposal, including a research schedule, to Moodle
    • Friday Feb 26, 7 pm, first 250-400 word Field Commentary
    • Friday Mar 14, 7 pm, second 250-400 word Field Commentary
    • Friday Mar 26, 7 pm third 250-400 word Field Commentary
    • Friday Apr. 9, 7 pm, fourth 250-400 word Field Commentary
  • Upload audio/video clips of meeting interactions OR if impossible to record, upload detailed description of meeting from your fieldnotes: Upload at least 2 video or audio clips or meeting descriptions (per pair), audio or video should be no longer than 5 minutes, fully captioned, to your course Google drive Project folder (one at midterm, one at end). This will allow you to link to them to your papers. Clips or meeting descriptions should be of interactions you will analyse in your final papers.
  • Final Individual Analysis: (30%)
    • Draft/outline of individual final paper (some more writing than the proposal; or a new proposal; or an outline): due in class for peer review Thursday Apr 28.
    • 7-10 page individual final analyses: Individually upload your final analysis to Moodle by Monday May 10, 7 pm. Your research pair should upload at least one more audio or video file to link to your final papers.

Avoid Plagiarism! 

Plagiarism is the failure to acknowledge one's use of another's work. Many people mistakenly believe that plagiarism can occur only if the writer willfully appropriates someone else's words or ideas in a paper. This is not the case. Whether by intent or by omission, plagiarism occurs whenever one utilizes another's language, concepts, or creative work in any medium and fails to accurately cite the author or source. The Reed Honor Principle, which you have agreed to uphold as a student at Reed College, prohibits such acts of academic dishonesty. To avoid plagiarism, take comprehensive, accurate notes and consult a writers' manual for the proper form with which to cite your sources. More questions? See the Doyle Writing Center's Guidelines on Plagiarism and Citation and the link on Anthropology Citation Practices above, under "Resources for Anthropology 201 Assignments".

Sensitive Topics and Ethical Use of Images

Anthropology courses address some of the most sensitive issues humans face (kinship, race, gender, sexuality, class inequality, violence, state politics, etc.). At the same time, class discussion is the central activity of this course and students are required to be proactive in their preparation for it. I define active participation in class as promoting a positive and inclusive learning environment through respectful discourse with students and me about the topics at hand. While most of our readings, films and assignments will not directly portray graphic or violent material, I will use "Content Notes" to alert class members to any such content ahead of time. I prefer that term (vs. "Trigger warnings") because it avoids psychologizing us and does not assume what our responses to material will be. I also prefer the more neutral-sounding "Content Notes" because it encourages us not to prematurely foreclose our engagements with difficult material, but just to be aware of our own needs and to provide extra care for ourselves if necessary.

Similarly, please be thoughtful and respectful in your image-sharing practices (in your blogs, papers and Moodle posts). All images or videos shared with class members or me should be framed or contextualized with some information about their sources, why they are relevant to the discussion and any Content Notes you feel are needed. For more information on ethics and linguistic anthropology research, like the U.S. law against "video voyeurism," see the first page of the Anth 201 Course Research Guide

Disability and Accessibility Resources and this course

If you have a disability that may impact your work in this class and you have received an accommodations letter from Disability and Accessibility Resources, I encourage you to meet with me early in the semester or as soon as possible after receiving your letter. Discussing your accommodation needs early on can help clarify expectations and allow time to implement accommodations that require some coordination. If you have not yet requested accommodations through Disability and Accessibility Resources for this semester, or you are interested in learning about disability and accessibility resources at Reed, I encourage you to contact DAR at to request an appointment.