Sensory Ethnography Lab Works people Courses Media Anthropology PhD Resources News + Events

SEL offers intensive training in ethnographic media and hypermedia production. At its core is an intensive year-long course in "Sensory Ethnography." Over a calendar year, students receive instruction in ethnographic media practices, producing a variety of original digital video, still photographic, hypermedia, and sound works. Advanced graduate students are also provided with training and equipment to produce substantial media ethnographies in conjunction with their written doctoral dissertations. Harvard graduate students specializing in media anthropology may elect to declare a Secondary Field in Film & Visual Studies. This requires taking four graduate-level media courses, of which one may be either Sensory Ethnography I (Anth 2835) or Sensory Ethnography II (Anth 2836).

Anthropology 1836aar: Sensory Ethnography I
Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
First half of a year-long sequence in which students apply media anthropological theory and conduct ethnography using film, video, sound, and/or still photography. Note: Students must also attend all VES 158ar classes. Emphasis is on pre-production and production in the spring, and on post-production in the fall. Interview with instructor and teaching assistant required for admission.

Anthropology 2722: Sonic Ethnography
Ernst Karel
This is a graduate-level, practice-based course in which students will record, edit, and produce anthropologically-informed audio works. Through intensive recording, listening, and discussion, this course will consider the use of location recording and composition as a means of conveying ethnographic knowledge. Students will also gain a familiarity with existing genres and uses of nonfiction audio in anthropology and related fields, and of possibilities for creative use of the medium going forward. Projects will be situated in relationship to cognate fields, including the anthropology of the senses, interdisciplinary sound studies, ethnomusicology, ethnographic cinema, sound art, sound mapping, soundscape composition, and experimental nonfiction media practices which involve location recording.


Anthropology 2835r: Sensory Ethnography I

Lucien Castaing-Taylor
First half of a year-long sequence in which students apply media anthropological theory and conduct ethnography using film, video, sound, and/or still photography.
Note: Limited to graduate students, who must also attend all VES 157a classes. Emphasis is on pre-production and production in the spring, and on post-production in the fall.

Anthropology 2836r: Sensory Ethnography II
Studio Course
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Second half of a year-long sequence in which students apply media anthropological theory and conduct ethnography using film, video, sound, still photography, and/or hypermedia.
Note: Limited to graduate students, who must also attend all VES 158 classes. Emphasis is on pre-production and production in the spring, and on post-production in the fall.

Anthropology 2837: Media Archaeology of Place
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Ernst Karel
Jesse Shapins
Combining media art practice with critical inquiry and ethnographic research, Boston and other sites serve as laboratories for exploring different modes of representing place. Films, maps, sound recordings, and other media artifacts are treated as archeaological objects and are re-interpreted for exhibition.

Anthropology 2845: Media Anthropology Theory
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Seminar offering a critical overview of the field of media anthropology, as it has developed over the last half century. Attention will be on the media as both an object and a genre of anthropology.

Anthropology 2846: Media Anthropology Theory and Practice II
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Advanced seminar combining theory and practice in media anthropology. Emphasis on post-production.

Graduate School of Design 3448: The Mixed-Reality City
Studio Course
Jesse Shapins
The contemporary city is constituted by multiple overlapping, intermixing realities, articulated between built form and imagined space, individuated experience and collective memory, embodied sensation and digital mediation. deploying media archaeological methods to uncover suppressed, neglected and forgotten places and stories, resulting in final projects that remix reality in public spaces through novel combinations of mobile devices (e.g. iPhones/iPads), networked technologies and material artifacts.

Visual and Environmental Studies 58r: Image, Sound, Culture
Studio Course
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Students use video, sound, and/or hypermedia to produce short works about embodied experience, culture, and nature, and are introduced to current issues in aesthetics and ethnography.

Visual and Environmental Studies 158r: Living Documentary
Studio Course
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Students produce a substantial work of ethnographically informed nonfiction using video or sound. Principal recording should take place prior to enrolling in the course.

Visual and Environmental Studies 161r: Media Anthropology: Technology, Technique, Techne
Studio Course
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Students receive hands-on training, in the Lab and in the field, with digital video and audio production and post-production technology. Emphasis is on both mastering the technology and developing a technique consonant with one's relationship to one's subject.

Visual and Environmental Studies 189: Exploring Culture Through Film
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Introduction to the history and theory of documentary and ethnographic film. A wide variety of works from 1895 to today will be screened and discussed. Different cinematic styles which have been used to depict human existence and the relationships between individuals and the wider cultural and political contexts of their lives will be compared.


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