Section 1


EUI faculty have found these brief and accessible readings especially useful for introducing students to ethnographic and archival methods.

Ethnographic Methods

Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes
Emerson, Robert M., Rachel L.Fretz & Linda L. Shaw. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes.Chicago: Chicago University Press 1995.
[Selections from Chapter 1 "Fieldnotes in Ethnographic Research" pp 1-16, and Chapter 4 "Writing Up Fieldnotes II: Creating Scenes on the Page," pp. 100-107]. The first excerpt addresses issues of objectivity in participant observation and the inherent selectivity of note-taking. The authors describe ethnography as "the inscription of participatory experience" and call attention to the inseparability of ethnographic findings and methods. The second excerpt addresses the ways ethnographers begin to make sense of their data while they are collecting it through in-process analytic writing.

My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student
Nathan, Rebekah. My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005.
[Especially Chapter 1 "Welcome to AnyU," pp. 1-18, and Chapter 4 "As Others See Us," pp. 67-89].
"Rebekah Nathan" is the pseudonym of Cathy Small, ana nthropologist and college professor who enrolled at her own university for a year of participant observation as a college freshman. Chapters of the ethnography address residence hall life, diversity and community on campus, students' study habits, work, and leisure activities as well as students' motivations and goals regardign their college education.

"Discourse Analysis: How to approach it at the nitty-gritty level"
Bonnie Urciuoli. "Discourse, Culture and Social Structure: Some Basics." Handout, n.d.
Urciuoli's brief essay provides students with a starting point for discourse analysis. She directs students to consider a message's cultural frame, its relationship to social institutions, and the relationship(s) between who sends and who receives it. She highlights six stylistic forms, or "phrasing devices," that impact how a message is understood.

An Anthropologist in the Library
Scott Carlson. "An Anthropologist in the Library." The Chronicle of Higher Education. August 17, 2007.
Carlson writes about a study undertaken by University of Rochester's library to look at how undergraduates do research, write papers and go about their everyday lives. The article gives a good overview of the research process, beginning with the question "What happens when a professor assigns a paper to a student?"

Additional resources on ethnographic and archival methods available in the U of I Library can be found at Ethnography of the University Project at the University Library.