[Currentcse] FW: COMS 6900, Ethnography and Oral History: A Performance Based Approach

Hutchinson, Jaylynne hutchinj at ohio.edu
Wed Oct 22 09:13:55 EDT 2014

Hello CSE'rs:

As you know our program requires a minimum of one research course in your master's degree program. Generally speaking, students take EDRE 5010 Intro to Research. For those of you who are interested more deeply in powerful and more cutting edge research methodologies, please consider the course described below. Dr. Chawla is one of my outstanding colleagues in the COMS program and teaches from a critical and post-colonial perspective. 

Please note that if you choose to take this course as your research course, you should have some background in qualitative research. If you are deeply interested in this class but do not have a background in qualitative research, talk to your advisor. They may be able to recommend a good introductory book on qual research that you would read independently (or in a small group) prior to the start of the Spring Semester course. 

As an aside NOTE:  it is that time of the semester when you should be making advising appointments with your CSE advisor to plan for Spring Semester.

Have a thought-provoking day!  --Jaylynne

Jaylynne N. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Critical Studies in Educational Foundations, Program Coordinator
Director, Undergraduate Diversity Studies Certificate
McCracken Hall 321E, Ohio University
Athens, OH  45701
Email: hutchinj at ohio.edu
From: Chawla, Devika
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 10:41 PM
To: Howard, Steve; Nelson, Jenny; Duschinski, Haley; Ammarell, Gene; Hutchinson, Jaylynne; Collins, Elizabeth; Singh, Amritjit; Negash, Ghirmai; Wood, Lawrence; Cooper, Roger; Karen Riggs; Sarah Green
Subject: COMS 6900, Ethnography and Oral History: A Performance Based Approach


I am writing to advertise my Spring graduate course, COMS 6900.  The description is below and also attached to this email.  Do send along students that you think will be interested. In the past, I have had students from all your programs and they greatly enrich the discussions in the class.

Very best,


COMS 6900
Ethnography and Oral History:  A Performance-based Approach

Dr. Devika Chawla (Chawla at ohio.edu<mailto:Chawla at ohio.edu>)
Venue/Day/Time: Lasher Lounge; Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m.

Enrollment eligibility:  Some basic background in qualitative research; open to M.A. and Ph.D. students.

In his classic essay, “Rethinking Ethnography,” Performance and Communication Studies scholar, Dwight Conquergood offers a thoughtful critique of ethnographic representation when he states, “Although ethnographic fieldwork privileges the body, published ethnographies typically have repressed bodily experience in favor of abstracted theory and analysis.”[1]  He goes on to argue for a performance-based approach to fieldwork, carefully noting that:

The performance paradigm privileges particular, participatory, dynamic, intimate, precarious, embodied experience grounded in historical process, contingency, and ideology . . . performance-centered research takes as both its subject matter and method the experiencing body in time, place, and history.[2]

For contemporary ethnographers, regardless of the intellectual discipline they claim, centering the affective body in fieldwork is now more than ever a necessity rather than an innovation.  To experience and represent with all the senses is no longer considered merely a creative experimental act. Instead, the focus is on how all of our senses are involved in the process of understanding. In brief, how do ethnographers learn and speak with and through their bodies?
In this seminar, we will approach ethnographic fieldwork and its associated method of oral history from a performance, affect, and sense-based perspective. The course will follow a theory to method trajectory. That is to say, we will begin by reviewing conceptual issues in performance theory, including affect and sense-based approaches. A large part of the seminar will be devoted to experiential training in different modes of fieldwork, writing, doing, being, and performing.  This will encompass exercises in textual, aural, performative, material, poetic, and other sense-based representation.  Our primary task will be to attend to how the performing body, when it is centered in ethnographic fieldwork and representation, tells more complete and/or more partial truths.[3]


[1] Dwight Conquergood, “Rethinking Ethnography: Towards a Critical Cultural Politics,” Communication Monographs 58, no. 2 (1991): 181, doi:10.1080/03637759109376222.

[2] Ibid., 187.

[3] James Clifford, “Introduction: Partial Truths,” in Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, ed. James Clifford and George E. Marcus (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 305.

Dr. Devika Chawla, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Interim Associate Director of Graduate Studies
Course Director for Communication Between Cultures (COMS 1100)
School of Communication Studies
31 Lasher
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701, USA

Tel: 740.591.5733
Facsimile: 740.593.4810
chawla at ohio.edu<mailto:chawla at ohio.edu>


"Part of the very problem of contemporary political life is that not everyone counts as a subject.” Judith Butler

“I am a bleak heroism of words that refuse to be buried alive with the liars.”  Audre Lorde

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