In this class, you have written a response essay to one author. You have also written a reflective annotated bibliography on six articles. You then wrote a personal research narrative in which you integrated 10 sources, including at least 6 scholarly sources, into your paper.
In this final project, you will write an mini-ethnography.
Ethnography is a term that has arisen out of anthropology. Many famous anthropologists have written books based on their observations of other cultures and environments. In this class, we do not have time for you to engage in a full-fledged ethnographic project. Instead, this final project asks that you complete a mini-ethnography.
If your personal research narrative was written on a topic that lends itself to personal observation in a physical setting, then the mini-ethnography might be a possible choice for you for your final project in WRTG 291. For example, imagine you wrote your personal research narrative on whether laptops help students in classes. Perhaps you found research articles that made the case that laptops do help students with writing and critical thinking skills.
If you were to choose the mini-ethnography assignment, you might spend time interviewing students who have used laptops in classes and observing students using laptops in some classes you are taking or some classes you could visit.
In writing a mini-ethnography, you would take the following steps:
Choose a setting. Your topic might inform the setting you choose. The example above mentions a classroom. Other topics might involve visiting a local cafe, a computer lab, or a sporting event. Your job is to observe this setting without “changing” it.
Try to enter the setting without prejudging it. You do not want to look for things to confirm but rather you want to look for things to discover. It will be to your benefit to observe this setting more than once.
Try to understand the “rules” that govern behavior in your chosen setting.
Write descriptions, draw sketches, create maps as you take notes for this assignment.
Consider your own role as you observe.
Consider the following questions:
Is there a specific language used in this setting? Can you define the terms?
Does anyone—or anything—stand out in the chosen environment?
Graham Gibbs has created a video on writing ethnographies. Please note that he is talking about a longer project in his video. You can access his video by clicking here.
You can find more information on writing a mini-ethnography in an article by Emerson et al. You can access it by clicking here.
Your paper should be 1200-1500 words. It should include follow one of the strategies listed above.