ENGL488E - Topics in Advanced Writing: Writing about Literacy in Community Environments

Ethnography (from the Greek for “writing about people”) is a genre of writing that draws on primary, field-based research in order to present a detailed description and analysis of a community’s members working and living in their everyday environments. A group’s literacy practices—that is, its collective acts of reading, writing, speaking, and listening—are one significant means through which its members do this working and living. This course, then, will prompt you to examine this relationship between a community’s literacy practices and its knowledge, beliefs, and identity. Specifically, you will design, conduct, and write an ethnographic study that observes how a group’s members use reading and writing activities to achieve both explicit and implicit cultural goals. Through your pursuit of this ethnographic project, you will develop the ability to perform primary research as a key aspect of your academic learning process. Equally as important, you will deepen your understanding of what “literacy” is and gain critical insight on how individuals and groups acquire and leverage literacy in their everyday lives.


Two English courses or permission of department.