Spring 2012 Course Descriptions

Folklore 162
Topics in Folklore: African Folklore in Cultural and Political Contexts
TUTH 330-5P
209 DWINELLE
YANKAH, K
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

The course examines a range of verbal art forms spread across the continent of Africa and their extensions in the African diaspora. Verbal genres like folktale, proverb, oratory, riddle, praise and abuse poetry, their interlinks as well as interface with non-verbal forms, will be studied. We shall explore their expressive value, but also social, cultural and political contexts that give them meaning. The emphasis will be on basic and complex poetic genres within traditional cultures relating these to relevant social and political events that triggered them. Exemplifying from various cultures, we shall discuss the power of the spoken word to make and break, relating this to oratory, riddles, proverb speaking, the poetics of praise and abuse, and related spoken arts. Students will get the opportunity to interrogate as well as create poetic forms in everyday life.

Dr. Kwesi Yankah is the leading folklorist in and of Africa. His books on proverbs and on the okyeame or "chief's spokesperson" in Ghana are two of the most widely cited sources on African folklore, and he is the co-editor of African Folklore: An Encyclopedia. He received graduate degrees from both the University of Ghana (M.A.) and Indiana University (M.A. and Ph.D.). Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, he has served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Pro-Vice Chancellor.

Folklore C262B
Folklore and the Poetics of Power
101 2251 COLLEGEF 10-1P
Kwesi Yankah

This is an advanced graduate seminar in folklore that critically appraises aspects of folklore theory through an examination of the poetics of power within tradition and modernity. The course examines the panoply of poetic resources available to dominant social groups in the enactment and maintenance of hegemony and the coping transcripts deployed by the underprivileged. Topics to be discussed range from intellectual hegemonies, globalization and folklore studies, to situated enactments and transgression of power.

Dr. Kwesi Yankah is the leading folklorist in and of Africa. His books on proverbs and on the okyeame or "chief's spokesperson" in Ghana are two of the most widely cited sources on African folklore, and he is the co-editor of African Folklore: An Encyclopedia. He received graduate degrees from both the University of Ghana (M.A.) and Indiana University (M.A. and Ph.D.). Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, he has served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Pro-Vice Chancellor.

Anthropology 235
Special Topics in Museum Anthropology: History of American Museum Anthropology
M 10-12P
101 2251 COLLEGE
JACKNIS, I
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

Graduate seminar; open to advanced undergraduates with permission of instructor.

Instructor: Ira Jacknis, Research Anthropologist, Phoebe Hearst Museum (jacknis@berkeley.edu).

This seminar will explore the history of museum anthropology in America. It will serve as an introduction to the field as seen through a series of institutional case-studies, considered chronologically. The course will cover all aspects of the subject: not just collecting, but also research and publication, collection management and conservation, administration, exhibition, audience and community relations.

The period to be covered ranges from about 1875 to the present. Other national traditions, especially Britain, will also be considered; and while ethnology (cultural anthropology) will be emphasized, there will be some treatment of archaeology and other subdisciplines. Among the key institutions to be featured will be the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, Field Museum, Harvard Peabody Museum, and Hearst Museum.

Class topics will include sources and methodologies, the evolutionary period, expositions, university museums, the Boasian cultural critique, non-American collecting, primitivism and anthropology's relation to art museums, the revival of museum anthropology in the 1960s, regional museums, temporal and inter-cultural concerns, and community involvement (including repatriation and Native museums).

The primary requirement will be a research project--subject to the approval of the instructor--treating a detailed case-study in light of the course readings. Students will be required to research the history of the Hearst Museum, founded in 1901, so that they may employ primary documentation in the museum's archives and/or the anthropology archives in the Bancroft Library.

Basis for evaluation

Class participation (40 %): discussion of the assigned readings, and leading discussion for two of the readings. Final research project (60 %): class oral presentation of research project (10 %), 20-25 page written paper (50 %)

Enrollment

Limited to 15 students. Undergraduates should send an email to the instructor summarizing their academic status (year and department), previous museum and/or historical experience, reasons for taking the course, and a prospective topic that they hope to research.

Anthropology 250X
Anthropology of Mediatization
Tu 10-1P
221 Kroeber
BRIGGS, C L
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

This course goes beyond the anthropology of the media to launch an inquiry that ironically refuses any preconceived idea of its object, following Jesus Martin Barbero's call to disavow our reified conceptions of "the media" and "communication" as a condition for critical investigation. Asking ethnographically and analytically what it might mean to designate an object as mediatized, the class moves dialogically between two poles. One examines heterogeneous sources that illuminate such issues as semiotic mediation, commodification, mobility, circulation, and interdiscursivity in generating a new framework, one that is adequate to ground an anthropology of mediatization. Another thinks about knowledge-production practices, drawing from ethnography, discourse analysis, visual cultural studies, media studies, and other areas in challenging boundaries imposed by conventional understandings of "the media." It asks, for example, how we might explore the way that a pathogen, drug, act of violence, political project, or human rights issue often gets mediatized before it even exists.

Rhetoric 112
RHETORIC OF NARRATIVE GENRES IN NON-LITERATE SOCIETIES
TuTh 2-330P
109 DWINELLE
MELIA, D F
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

Writing is a colonizing tool. So difficult is this for us, as literates, to grasp and to live with that fact that we come to endorse Derrida's formulation that writing is prior to speech. Most of the world today, and all of the world in the past was not literate, did not use books. Why don't we study this phenomenon? Virtually all other courses in the humanities and social sciences deal with written, verballyfixed texts. The primary material of this course is taken from multiform, oral/traditional texts, mainly from Europe and Africa, and from texts whose content or shape is strongly influenced by orally transmitted material. Many of the generalizations that you may have internalized about understanding the rhetoric of texts will have to be reexamined because the relationship between author and audience in an oral setting is different in many crucial respects from that in a written setting.

Major aims of the course:

  1. Understanding how oral traditional narrative is composed and transmitted.
  2. Understanding the differences between the rhetorical techniques common to oral texts and
  3. those characteristic of written texts.
  4. Exploring some aspects of ancient, medieval and modern oral traditions.
  5. Creating an oral tradition in the class itself.


Written Assignments:

Onehour midterm exam in class; 25% of final grade.
Fifteenpage term paper. 60% of final grade.
3 Hour Final Exam. 15% of final grade.
Timely completion of all written assignments is a minimum requirement for passing the course.

Celtic Studies 139
Irish Literature Since 1800
TuTh 11-1230P
122 WHEELER
MELIA, D F
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

Name some great English writers. Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, G.B. Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Oliver Goldsmith, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Bram Stoker; oops, these guys were all Irish. Why is that? The prominence of the Irish-born in English literature is one of the things we will discuss in Celtic Studies 139.

From the 17th century on, Ireland was a land of two primary spoken languages: Irish and English. Latin survived until the early 20th century as a written (and occasionally spoken) language of scholarly discussion, but it was almost never used during this period for literary or popular poetic texts. Although Irish was the language spoken by most Irish people until the middle of the 19th century and had a flourishing literary tradition (mainly poetic), there was little published in the language until the end of the 19th century. How much interpenetration was there between the two traditions? What sort of audiences existed for different kinds of literature? What was the Irish Literary Renaissance? What part did colonialism and nationalism play in the development of both language traditions in Ireland? All these questions will be addressed, if not answered to everyone's satisfaction, in this course.

There will be three mid-term quizzes (10% each), a group project (30%) and a final examination (35%). Completion of all written work is a minimum condition for passing the course.

Slavic Languages and Literatures 147B
Balkan Folklore
MWF 2-3pm
229 Dwinelle
Ronelle Alexander
section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes

This course on folklore of the central and east Balkans studies "folk" of two different religions (Christianity and Islam) and two different language groups (Slavic and Albanian), comprising Slavs from Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia and Albanians from Albania and Kosova; and their traditional "lore", including tales, epic songs, selected traditional customs, and music. Among topics for discussion are:

  • The role of folklore in understanding history, and vice versa
  • How folklore illuminates (and informs) gender roles in the Balkans
  • The importance of Balkan folklore in the development of the oral-formulaic theory
  • The extent to which folklore define and delimit religious and ethnic differences
  • The role of music in folklore, and the politics of ethnically-defined music

Programs & Courses