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Writing in the Discipline

​​RIC students writing

1. W​hy or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?

Anthropology seeks to understand what it is to be human from a holistic perspective: through distant and recent time, globally across space, and comparatively between human and nonhuman primate groups. Writing is a fundamental and necessary part of the practice of anthropology, from the collection of data during fieldwork to the communication and dissemination of results and conclusions – to scholars and to the public -- in reports, articles and books. Capturing the nuances and complexities of behaviors in a variety of contexts, past and present, requires being able to write in a variety of styles and for a variety of purposes.

2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the WID requirement by your department? Why these courses?

While students are introduced to writing in the discipline in the four introductory courses, the WID designated courses in the Anthropology Department are ANTH 233: Methods in Anthropology and ANTH 460: Senior Seminar. These are the two courses that bring together and build on skills and knowledge from other courses in the major and in which students learn how to ask and answer anthropological questions. In ANTH 233 students learn to use appropriate anthropological methods and to create a variety of written materials while in ANTH 460 they build on these skills to undertake a semester-long research project that culminates in a paper that conforms to anthropological writing conventions.

3. What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?

Students learn the conventions of anthropological writing as well as some of the different forms that anthropological writing can take while engaged in collecting and analyzing data for a series of formal writing projects. Students learn how to record observations; write analyses of data in report and narrative forms; write academic papers that conform to anthropological writing conventions.

4. What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

Practices that students will encounter include mandatory and voluntary drafting and revision; scaffolded assignments; peer and instructor feedback in writing and individual conferences; formal and informal writing; critical reading/deconstructing academic papers.

5. When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?

When students complete the major they are able to use appropriate styles of writing to collect anthropological data based on a variety of field techniques and present their conclusions about and implications of those data. They learn the power of using evidence-based writing to intervene in the world around them.

Page last updated: April 28, 2020