About the Class

This class explores the relationship between language and culture, and the various approaches that have been used to describe and analyze it. The course includes a variety of topics that will both introduce and orient the students to current debates within the field of Linguistic Anthropology.  We will read some fundamental articles in linguistic anthropology and address the ways in which language shapes cultural meanings. We will also examine the role of language in social life, including how language simultaneously reflects social roles and helps to create them.  Finally, we will address some of the important consequences of language and power.  This includes many issues including the role of language in producing social inequality.

Introduction to the Course and Website

Video: Professor Introduction

This Class is a collaborative effort put together by two MSU Anthropology faculty, Dr. Mindy Morgan and Dr. Chantal Tetreault. The course instructor is Adam Haviland, a PhD. candidate in linguistic anthropology in the Anthropology program at MSU.

Dr. Mindy Morgan is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and an affiliated faculty member of the American Indian Studies Program at Michigan State University.  She is the author of “The Bearer of This Letter”: Language Ideologies, Literacy Practices, and the Fort Belknap Indian Community (Nebraska, 2009).  Her book examines how literacy functioned as both a cultural practice and cultural symbol for the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre communities of Fort Belknap reservation during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For more information about Dr. Mindy Morgan, go to her faculty page.

Dr. Chantal Tetreault is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist whose recent work has primarily focused on issues of migration and social change in France. Dr. Tetreault’s current project addresses the interactional styles whereby French adolescents of Algerian descent construct and express their emergent identities as Arab Muslims and French youth. More generally, her research illuminates how cultural processes of identity construction, primarily relating to gender and ethnicity, are achieved through everyday language use. For more information about Dr. Chantal Tetreault, go to her faculty page.

Adam Haviland is a PhD Candidate  in Anthropology.  He has a B.S. in Biology and American Indian Studies from Central Michigan University and received an M.A. in American Studies and an M.A. Anthropology at Michigan State University. Currently Adam is doing field work in the Lansing MI Anishinaabeg community exploring the relationship between language and linguistic practices on the construction of Native space in an urban setting.  Adam also works with (IYEP), The Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program which is an after school enrichment program for Native American and Indigenous youth in the Lansing School District and  is a naturalist at Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, MI teaching plant identification, ecology and Native American History and culture.


This course uses both WordPress and Desire to learn as platforms for presenting materials and grading.  WordPress will have lecture videos for you to watch and your readings. Your weekly quizzes  will be done through Desire to learn.

While you have the option to watch the lectures at any time please treat this course as you would any other. Don’t wait till the last minute and then expect to do well on your quizzes and assignments. Take notes and because you can watch the lectures more than once refer back to them while you study.

There is no final for this course. You will be graded on your quiz scores, weekly assignments and blog posts.


To take this class, all you need is a browser (Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome are preferred) and a high speed Internet connection. While you can connect to many of the course materials using a slower Internet connection, there are some things that you simply will not be able to access (such as the course videos or lecture videos). We understand that computers are not infallible. However, it is your responsibility to resolve any technical issues that originate on your end.


This class adheres to the philosophy of open courseware and open access.  As such, course materials are open and accessible to the public.  This includes some of the assignments – specifically the blog posts.  As such, students should think of themselves as not just taking a class, but as contributing to the pool of scholarship on anthropology.  This also means that students need to think about how they want to license your work (aka. how you would like other people to be able to use your work).

When students post to the course website, they will be able to choose a specific Creative Commons license.  Each license (there are 6 to choose from) gives the author a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work.

When you post to the course blog, you will choose the Creative Commons license you want to assign to your post (pictured above)

Be sure to review the Creative Commons licenses – think about which one works best for you.

It is very important to note any student (at any time during or after the semester) can opt not to have their class materials be open access.  Just talk to the course instructor, and they’ll make it happen immediately.  Its equally important to note that any student who chooses to do this will not be penalized in any way at all.  The content students produce for this class belongs to them, and they have total control over how it lives out in the wider world.


A lot of the content of this class is delivered using video. Some of the videos are embedded into the schedule (most course lectures) while others are linked to outside websites (screencast, youtube, etc.)

In order to ensure that you have the best experience with this video material, make sure you are using an up to date version of a modern browser (such as Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome) and are accessing the course materials over a high speed Internet connection. While you can access much of the course content over a slower Internet connection, you need a high speed connection for the course video materials.

In order to access the video materials, you may need to login with a password – this is the same for everyone and should have been sent to you in an email.


All readings will have links to them on this website so you won’t have to go looking for anything. I may post suggested articles or books for you to check out if your interested in them but they will not be required reading also if you come across anything interesting, (articles, cartoons, youtube movie, and such) feel free to post links.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.


Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others. As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
  • Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.

Photo “*rosetta.stone” by Flickr user Eisabeth Skene/ Creative Commons licensed BY–NC-ND-2.0