Department of Anthropology

Anthony K. Webster


ProfessorPh.D., University of Texas at Austin

Anthony K. Webster

Contact

Interests


Linguistic anthropology, ethnopoetics, Athabaskan languages, translation, linguistic relativity

Biography


I am a linguistic anthropologist.

 

Courses


ANT 322M • Natv Amer Cul Greater Sthwst

31205 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 0.106
(also listed as AMS 321)

This class explores the diverse Native cultures of the Southwest. The class focuses on the philosophical underpinnings and the frameworks of meaning and moral responsibility of indigenous peoples of the American Southwest. The goal is to give students a broader view of the Native peoples of North America and specifically of the Southwest. By focusing on the diverse peoples and cultures of the Southwest, this course aims to increase knowledge concerning specific Native populations today (Hopi, Navajo, Apache, Zuni, Tohono O’odham, Yaqui, and others). This course pays particular attention to expressive forms, current political issues, political economy, and the on-going legacy of settler colonialism.

 

ANT 393 • Language And Imagination

31470 • Fall 2016
Meets T 3:00PM-6:00PM SAC 4.114

Recent trends in some linguistics and linguistic anthropology tend to downplay the role of the imagination in the language/culture/individual nexus and rather focus on the banal and the putative “cognitive.” This seminar reverses that and puts the interplay between language and the imagination at the center of linguistic anthropology. We begin by thinking through the ways that imagination and languages interanimate and make possible each other. This, of course, entails taking a principled stance on what we might mean—cross-culturally—by imagination and language(s). We then rethink ways of imagining languages more generally. What might it mean to see imagination as a crucial locus in languaging? This leads us to questions of linguistic relativity, poetics, creativity, and questions of craft and inspiration. Following this we then engage several ethnographies that put imagining and the interplay of language and imagination at the forefront of their research. The goal, then, is to reflect on our own imaginings of language, our languages of imagining, the ways languages-in-use facilitate imaginative acts, and what that might mean for linguistic anthropology.

ANT 307 • Culture And Communication

30300 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CLA 0.112

The ability to learn and use language is a quintessentially human characteristic—one that distinguishes homo sapiens from other animal species. Language is simultaneously generated through and generative of social life; the former is a primary resource that we humans use in both the structuring and accomplishment of the latter. These dynamics form the subject of study of linguistic anthropology.

This course is an introduction to linguistic anthropology. It is impossible in a single semester to provide a complete overview of all topics that linguistic anthropologists address, so this course covers selected topics, the selection of which is aimed to illustrate how linguistic anthropologists go about doing their work: the range of topics they examine, the kinds of questions they ask, the types of approaches and methods they utilize, and the sorts of conclusions they reach.

ANT 393 • Language Ideologies

30620 • Spring 2016
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 4.116
(also listed as LIN 396)

This class examines the rise, application and changing theoretical concerns of language/linguistic ideology. Since its formulation in 1979 by Michael Silverstein, language ideology has been an important theoretical concern in linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, sociocultural anthropology, sociocultural linguistics, language documentation and other like-minded language-in-use-centered disciplines. This class traces that history—reading the classic articles and edited volumes as well as influential thinkers like Raymond Williams—and then moves on to look at the ways that language/linguistic ideological frameworks have been applied to a multitude of ethnographic and historical circumstances. Readings here include examinations of the rise of modernist conceptions of language, the role of language ideological clarification in the work of language revitalization and documentation projects, the relation of language ideologies to questions of power, publics, and affect, the ways language/linguistic ideologies have influenced linguistic change, and the ways local/non-local language ideologies have changed in response to colonialism (in its myriad forms). We then step back and think about the logocentric view of language/linguistic ideologies and ask if, and in what ways, conceptions of language ideologies might be a reflex of pervasive modernist semiotic ideologies. Here we engage the question of whether or not it might be time to rethink language/linguistic ideologies and, in its stead, talk of semiotic ideologies (as articulated by Webb Keane). What are the limits of a language/linguistic ideological approach? What are the limits, as well, of a semiotic ideological approach? 

ANT 320L • Amer Indian Langs And Culs

30505 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM SAC 4.118
(also listed as LIN 373)

 

 This course explores the myriad of indigenous languages of the North America and how they are intertwined with culture. The focus of this course is both descriptive and anthropological. That is, the indigenous languages of the Americas will be considered with respect to their phonologies, complex morphologies, discursive structures, and historical relations as well as their place within the sociocultural milieu of speakers. Language is made real in use. We will look to the uses and users of language.

ANT 320L • Speech Play And Verbal Art

30615 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM SAC 4.118
(also listed as LIN 373)

This course explores the sociocultural and linguistic foundations and uses of speech play and verbal art. We will explore a variety of kinds of speech play and verbal art (from jokes, to songs, to stories, to puns, to poetry). Issues to be discussed will revolve around the social uses of speech play and verbal art (what is being commented on and what is being done through such poetic uses of language), questions of translation, aesthetics, and changes in the uses and aesthetic judgments of speech play and verbal art. Far from a marginal pursuit of anthropology, this class will place a concern with speech play and verbal art at the center of questions about identity, power and inequality, and language ideologies. Speech play and verbal art become central to understanding the language, culture, society, and individual nexus.

ANT 393 • Anthropology Of Sound

30830 • Spring 2015
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 4.116

For many people, sound is ubiquitous. It surrounds us. It inhabits us. It reverberates through us. It emanates from us. This class takes the sound and soundedness as crucial to the anthropological and ethnographic enterprise. From questions of soundscapes to the role of sound in on-going concerns with linguistic relativity to ideophony and phonological iconicity to the physicality of voice to the problem of noise to acoustemology this class seeks to listen to such sounds and their resonances. Classes will revolve around readings that help us attune to the places of sound in anthropology.

 

ANT 320L • Amer Indian Langs And Culs

31615 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SAC 4.118

This course explores the myriad of indigenous languages (variously conceived) of the North America and how they are intertwined with culture. The focus of this course is from the perspectives of linguistic anthropology and an ethnography of speaking. That is, the indigenous languages of the Americas will be considered with respect to their phonologies, complex morphologies, discursive structures, and historical relations as well as their place within the sociocultural milieu of speakers. Focus will be on issues concerning literacy, language change, language shift, speech play, language and gender, verbal art, language ideologies and the quotidian ways of getting things done in and through language.  Language is made real in use. We will look to the uses and users of language.

 

ANT 393 • Speech Play And Verbal Art

31940 • Spring 2014
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 4.116

This course explores the sociocultural and linguistic foundations and uses of speech play and verbal art. We will explore a variety of kinds of speech play and verbal art (from jokes, to songs, to stories, to puns, to poetry). Issues to be discussed will revolve around the social uses of speech play and verbal art (what is being commented on and what is being done through such poetic uses of language), questions of translation, aesthetics, and changes in the uses and aesthetic judgments of speech play and verbal art. Far from a marginal pursuit of anthropology, this class will place a concern with speech play and verbal art at the center of questions about identity, power and inequality, and language ideologies. Speech play and verbal art become central to understanding the language, culture, society, and individual nexus.

 

ANT 393 • Language Is, As & Thru Emotion

31633 • Fall 2013
Meets T 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 4.116

This class begins a discussion on the ways that language and emotion are intertwined, intermingled, and co-animating. One way of talking about this issue is as language as a way to express emotions. Another way of exploring this issue concerns the emotional attachments that adhere to language and expressive forms. A third linked way of engaging this issue is to look at the ways that the language of emotion is an emergent property that co-animates affective attachments to expressive forms. To engage this discussion we will read a number of ethnographies that focus on expressive forms from laments to letters to poetry and the emotional attachments that are both created and expressed through such forms.

ANT S307 • Culture And Communication

81993 • Summer 2013
Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM SAC 4.118
(also listed as LIN S312)

An introduction to the study of culture through communication and the theory of signs. This class introduces and explores the nature and structure of the “uniquely” human achievement known as “language.” In so doing, we examine (briefly) the structural properties of language (i.e., morphology, syntax, semantics, and phonology) and the social and cultural embeddedness of language in use. Languages are social and cultural practices and linguistic anthropologists attend to that interface between languages, cultures, and the individual.

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