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ANTH 3360: Language Loss: Culture, Politics and Self: Syllabus

Language Loss: Culture, Politics, and Self

Course Information

Language Loss: Culture, Politics, and Self

ANTH 3360

Fall 2019

Monday-Wednesday 12:50-2:05pm

3305 James

Prof. Jillian R. Cavanaugh


Office: James 3307

Phone: (718)951-5000 ex.3203

Office hours: Wednesday 2:15-4 , OR by appointment

Course Objectives

  • To learn to use language as an analytical entry to thinking about culture.
  • To think, read, and write critically.
  • To make cross-cultural connections between your own and other cultures.
  • To learn about linguistic and cultural anthropological theory and methods.

Course Materials

This is a zero textbook course. Required readings are on this course website.  We will be using Blackboard for assignment submission.

There is also a required book, of which the BC library has an electronic copy:

  1. Orellana, Marjorie Faulstich 2009 Translating childhoods: Immigrant youth, language, and culture. NJ: Rutgers University Press.


Grades will be based on:

  • Participation (individual and group)                  20%
  • Blackboard reflections (once a week)                   20% (2% x 10, can miss or drop 4)
  • 5 small writing assignments                         25% (5 x 5% each)
  • Fieldnotes assignment                         5%
  • Interview assignment                         5%
  • Final language mapping assignment             25%


Small assignments: Roughly 2 pages, answering a prompt on the syllabus (under the day it is due), drawing on at least 1 reading and 1 class discussion. Small assignments must be typed in 12 pt Times New Roman (or similar) font, double-spaced, and stapled. Please number your pages. Late assignments will be graded down 10% of the paper’s total grade per day (NOT class period). Please be prepared to share and discuss these in class. No emailed small assignments.

Blackboard reflections: Every week, students are required to submit a reflection on either a reading or a particular topic to Blackboard. Reflections are due each Friday by midnight. Students will be graded for 10 of them. Prompts will reflect the week’s readings, discussions, and ongoing work on the final project.

Fieldnotes and Interview assignments: These will be discussed in class, and are steps towards your final project.

Final Language Mapping Assignment: This assignment will be a multi-part project drawing on several different types of evidence that you will gather using various qualitative research methods (interviews, participant observation) and quantitative data sources (like the American Community Survey) in order to focus on and ultimately map a language used here in New York to assess its vitality and current use. More information will be shared across the semester.

Course Policies

  • General Course Requirements: All readings are required. Coming to class is required. Doing well in this course requires keeping up with readings and assignments, and attending and participating in class. This means reading what is assigned and discussing what we’ve read in class. Participation is a large percentage of your grade, which will be calculated on both your individual participation and your participation in your group (20%). Come prepared to talk about what you’ve read to me and to each other. Note-taking during class and while doing class readings is highly recommended.
  • Attendance and tardiness: Class attendance is mandatory and active participation is a part of your grade. After 3 absences, your grade will be adversely affected. Latecomers will be marked absent if they are more than 15 minutes late, and three tardies is equal to 1 absence.
  • Email: When emailing me, you must include your name and the course name in the subject line.
  • Class Contract: If you fulfill all of the basic obligations for the class – come to every class on time (no more than 3 absences), do the readings for class, do all of the assignments, and turn them in on time – you are guaranteed a C+. This is an explicit agreement between you and me, and in order to do this you must speak to me about it within the first week of class.
  • University's Policy on Academic Integrity: The faculty and administration of Brooklyn College support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism. Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both.  The complete text of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and the Brooklyn College procedure for implementing that policy can be found here:  If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member MUST report the violation.
  • Center for Student Disability Services: In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services. Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services, Ms. Valerie Stewart-Lovell at 718-951-5538. If you have already registered with the Center for Student Disability Services please provide your professor with the course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation with him/her.
  • Instructor responsibilities: To present course material clearly, to assist students in talking and thinking about readings and concepts discussed in course, and to respect and value students opinions and contributions. To be clear about what is expected from students, what the requirements of the course are, and to be available to answer students’ concerns and questions. To give students feedback often, and to have assignments graded and handed back in a fair and timely fashion.