Women’s Studies 200
Case Study Ethnography
A case study is an in-depth account of a life story, event, or problem that includes specific details, intersections, and context. In this assignment, you will choose a Phenomenal Woman for your case study.
Case studies are used to explore the ways theories and concepts play out within the intricacies of real life.
The Case Study Ethnography Assignment requires you to apply your knowledge of women’s studies and problem-solving skills to a particular Phenomenal Woman and her story: her work, her challenges, her contributions, and her life.
Your first task is to choose an appropriate topic, hereafter referred to as the subject of your study. This is your Phenomenal Woman, your subject. To begin your exploration, you will conduct preliminary research. This is the process of gathering background information about the woman you have chosen to learn and write about.
You can choose a woman you know as your subject, or you can research a famous (or infamous!) woman from history or modern times. In either case, you will submit a Works Cited with your essay, consisting of three sources, including at least one connection to course material.
Use the information you have acquired through your preliminary research, as well as the knowledge and methods you have studied in this course, to design an ethnographic research project. Your ethnography can include interviews, surveys, focus groups, online interaction, and /or participant observation. The idea here is that you have learned enough through your preliminary research that you are able to identify challenges and pose relevant questions, relating to your subject and to women’s studies. You will conduct ethnographic research to acquire rich understanding and ideas for addressing the problems/ challenges you have identified.
The fun part! This is where you implement your ideas…
Use the explanation provided in the Ethnography Pre-Reading to design an ethnographic portion to your research. How can you connect issues that relate to your subject to ground-level lived experience, and how can you tap into this experience through participant-observation?
I encourage you to be brave and creative in your ethnographic methods- no one has ever made a ground breaking discovery by working within established parameters, so go ahead and push the boundaries. This being said, be sure that you are staying safe, and that you are treating your subject[s] with respect at all times. The ideal research project will be creative, exciting, and legal!
Before, during, and after completing preliminary and ethnographic research, students are asked to consider how the subject of their study fits into the larger scenario of challenges faced by women, and the cultural webs (following Geertz- Culture as Webs of Meaning, see course material) we inhabit…
· Your most important research tool is your open, engaged mind.
· Focus on specifics and particulars rather than generalizations. Generalizations can lead to stereotypes and are to be avoided. Stereotypes are limiting and inherently false. The challenge is to use your case study to explore cultural diversity, and particular issues related to your case, without using generalizations or stereotypes.
· This assignment is designed to provide you with an introductory experience of Cultural Anthropological research methods, applied to Women’s Studies. Get into it. Use the methods (Week 2 reading assignment), and experience something new.
· This assignment provides students with an opportunity to engage creatively with course material, and explore a particular topic within our field in profound depth.
· You may be surprised by what you learn. Do not be surprised if you are surprised by what you discover J – ethnography often uncovers the unexpected.
These hints will hopefully help you with the reflective process. You can find more ideas in course reading assignments. Let yourself be inspired…
The Composition is your First Essay, to be between 750-1,000 words. Students will describe their experiences and findings through open format essays.
· Use the introduction to hook the interest of your audience. Pose a question, suggest something outrageous, provoke our curiosity…
· Be creative and put some thought into how you might convey your points in an engaging way.
· Your composition should:
o Be delivered in a clear, engaging, intellectually rich manner, intelligible to an educated audience.
o Present your original ideas, supported with evidence from your preliminary and ethnographic research.
Please make at least one solid connection in your composition to something we have read, studied, or discussed this quarter.
· Compositions should be interesting, informative, and polished.
· Beyond these points, I am interested to hear/see/experience each student’s unique interpretation of this assignment. Be bold and creative, try something new, take pride in your work, and please proofread!
Don’t forget the conclusion. The conclusion should be the most powerful and memorable part of your essay. Leave your audience with a compelling impression!
Students will be graded for quality of research (preliminary and ethnographic), degree of engagement with course material, depth of reflection, level of analysis, and clarity and quality of writing.
Don’t forget the Works Cited, with at least three sources, one from course material.