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Writing in Anthropology

By Dr. Ted Coyle

  • Ted CoyleWriting is important in anthropology because it is our basic form of communication, and also because it is fundamental to everything we do. Writing is constantly present, so anthropologists must be able to write well.

  • In my classes, I assign writing with the hope that repeated practice will motivate students to write on their own. I recommend The Elements of Style to writers, and I expect my students to understand punctuation and style at the sentence level.

  • All professionals in anthropology must write, including ethnographers, museum specialists, archaeologists, and forensic anthropologists.

  • To write well, students benefit from having many opportunities to practice writing and from taking the initiative to work on their writing that is independent from classroom assignments. The Elements of Style, 4th ed. by William Strunk and E.B. White is an excellent resource for learning about all aspects of writing. This book is available in the Writing and Learning Commons.

  • Students who make As in Anthropology writing show a clear understanding of the material, and they often can showcase their knowledge through effective writing assignments. These students have completed their reading assignments, paid attention to relevant lecture materials, summarized and paraphrased pertinent information, written clearly and without significant grammatical errors, and included their own ideas and creative insights.

  • Students who make Bs demonstrate an understanding of their subject but lack specific information from reading assignments and lectures.

  • Students who make Cs address the subject but ignore the readings and lectures.

  • Students who make Ds miss the boat altogether.

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