An Ethnographic Approach to Literature: Reading Wildfell Hall in the L1 and L2 Classroom
ethnography of Communication
Committee ChairWaugh, Linda R.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThough both literary critics and anthropologists have sometimes recognized converging aims and methods between ethnography and narrative fiction, few interpretive studies of fiction have been undertaken using the framework of ethnography of communication. Because ethnography of communication centers attention on language in situated communicative interaction, it could be a useful tool for exploring literary texts, especially texts within the genre of "realistic fiction," which sometimes also depend upon observation or creation of situated social interaction. This dissertation uses ethnography of communication to interpret a Victorian novel, Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Ethnography of communication may also serve as a general framework for teaching literature, combining close linguistic or stylistic analysis of the language, detailed examination of the cultural and social situation, and re-creation of the meaning of the event as it may have been experienced by the participants. This approach may be especially appropriate in the case of L2 learners taking literature courses in university programs. The overall framework of the analysis, ethnography of communication, will be supplemented by Goffman's model of interaction ritual and the concept of co-construction of reality. These frameworks will be employed in the analysis of brief communicative events within the novel. Insights about the characters and the speech communities deriving from ethnographic interpretation will be used to build more precise understanding of the events of the novel, thereby contributing to traditional areas of literary criticism, and offering options for literary study in L1 and L2 contexts.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching