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Module 1 aims to develop a critical stance towards documentary and other qualitative sources, with a particular emphasis on culture and cultural difference as a subject of anthropological research. The module introduces and fosters skills of analytical scrutiny towards claims, explanations and evidence as they relate to questions of culture or cultural difference, as presented across a range of media formats. Students will learn to critically interrogate content conveyed through different sources and formats.
Lectures will be structured to explore, one-by-one such different sources and formats, including film and video; news media; social media, blogs, wikis, and other internet-based sources that are consulted for study or other purposes. Lectures shall also explore scholarly output beyond peer-reviewed academic publications.
The thematic content of the module is global in scope, from documentary sources about distant places that intentionally play with our imagination, to discussions we see unfolding on our social media feeds, thus introducing students to a broad range of issues and formats that call for closer ethnographic attention. The module thereby equips students with critical skills of academic practice, particularly from the perspective of anthropology, by applying analysis to media content more generally.
Through tutorials, the module invites students to actively engage with different forms of media, and to apply critical analysis to qualitative sources. Students’ learning is directed through a series of brief writing exercises to analyze media content that offers window onto culture and cultural difference. Subsequent writing exercises shall be devoted to the creation of effective summaries of main claims, explanations and the evidence presented in qualitative sources; concise expression when articulating critical questions, including the development of different ‘styles’. The emphasis of these exercises is on concise expression with limited words counts rather than, but as potential precursor to, the longer formats available in formal academic writing.