PerformanceProfessor Charlene Makley
Office: 312 Vollum
Phone: 771-1112, ext. 7461
Office Hours:
Tues/Thurs 4:40-6:00

Anthropologists have long been interested in the complex dynamism of social life. Yet early attempts to account for this dynamism were obscured in favor of static representations of bounded "cultures" and dualistic understandings of sociocultural structures versus individual actions or intentions. This course considers "performance" and "performativity" to be methodological rubrics that have grouped together a wide variety of social theorists who focused instead on the emergent and contested nature of all meanings as they are communicated in everyday and ritualized speech and practice. Drawing especially on methodologies developed in linguistic anthropology since the early 20th century, the course will develop from key foundational texts in the science and philosophy of language to more recent theoretical and ethnographic work. Throughout, we will explore the implications of this perspective for understanding language and semiotics as social action, the nature of context and interpretive politics, the relationships between formal events or performances and everyday life, and the social construction of selves and others. By directing analytic focus to the indeterminacy, ambiguity, and multiplicity inherent to social life, the course challenges students to reconsider some of the central issues in anthropological theory, such as agency, identity, power and resistance. Prerequisite Anthropology 211. Conference.