Maclane Paddock

Exploring the Art of Ethnography: A Case Study of Anthropologist Dr. Steven Folmar

By Maclane Paddock

Writing 210: Academic Research and Writing

 

Introduction

The community of anthropology is unique in its role as an interdisciplinary crossroads intended to present a multi- dimensional perspective of human culture. Anthropology itself consists of four branches: cultural, linguistic, biological, and physical anthropology, yet, writers in anthropology include a plethora of academic expertise to affirm the accuracy and depth of their research; this practice calls for intense negotiation among audiences, collaborators, and research subjects. In the words of Dr. Steven Folmar, “the hallmark of anthropology is understanding how a person is situated in his or her culture to a fine grain,” and this understanding is born out of balance and dedication to nuance through interdisciplinary deliberation (personal communication, April 3, 2017).

Folmar is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Cultural and Applied Anthropology at Wake Forest University, where he specializes in Cultural Anthropology with focuses in Medical and Psychological Anthropology (“Dr. Steve Folmar,” n.d.). Folmar has conducted ethnographic research in Bangladesh, India, and the United States; however, his area of expertise lies in Nepal where he studies the Dalit people and their oppressed position in the Nepali caste system while simultaneously working with Dalits to establish their own political and social equality in local communities (“Dr. Steve Folmar,” n.d.). During my time spent interviewing Dr. Folmar and analyzing a selection of his research, it became clear that anthropology as a discipline is defined by its refusal to sacrifice seemingly mundane minutiae for the ease of simplicity and uniformity in one’s research, meaning that an interdisciplinary approach is essential in shaping well-rounded research that acknowledges delicate cultural distinctions, rather than using only one or two academic perspectives to comprehend an intensely complex issue.

Ethnographic fieldwork, interdisciplinary collaboration, and researcher-to-audience deliberation reflect definitive trademarks for writing in anthropology and, in turn, writing in the social sciences. These practices emulate what it means to combine both quantitative and qualitative research, which work in tandem to reveal the social ramifications of Folmar’s study of the Dalit people. Throughout this case study of Folmar and his work, I am seeking to answer the following question: How does Folmar’s dedication to interdisciplinary collaboration and multi-dimensional research methodologies contribute to his rhetorical choices and style when writing in cultural anthropology?

This culmination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies is paramount for Folmar as a cultural anthropologist because cross-data engagement depicts anthropology—and, in turn, the social sciences—as a disciplinary community employing the informational benefits of hard data in conjunction with the interpretive elements of individuals’ dynamic experiences. Quantitative data provides the necessary ethos for the social sciences to be identified as scientific as it yields the advantage of large-scale statistics and raw, objective information, whereas qualitative data contributes the necessary pathos and logos for the social sciences to be considered humanistic; thus, qualitative information integrates individual faces into the conglomeration of massive data sets solely identifying the what of research but not the why (Dr. Steven Folmar, personal communication, April 3, 2017).

Therefore, within Folmar’s work, these rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos function as complementary partners active in the exhibition of socially relevant information. This marriage of research methodologies displays the union of anthropology as a disciplinary community bolstered by two distinct systems of evidence purposed with painting a comprehensive portrait of the anthropologist’s research. Consequently, in his research and interactions with the Dalit people, Folmar pulls from politics, medicine, psychology, psychiatry, and the four branches of anthropology. Thus, he molds an accurate and nuanced perspective of Dalit culture and its innate struggles because the disciplinary community of anthropology is predicated upon its identity as a crossroads of academic expertise and methodological diversity.

Analysis and Findings

In order to grasp the notion of anthropology as an interdependent network of sub-disciplinary communities, I analyzed three pieces of Folmar’s work, each addressing different audiences ranging from the anthropological and political disciplinary communities to the medical and psychological fields. Folmar strategically tailors each piece of his writing to pertain to different audiences on a cross-disciplinary spectrum—an intersectional approach. In his piece, “Cross-Cultural Psychiatry in the Field: Collaborating with Anthropology,” Folmar and his co-author Dr. Guy Palmes examine the mental health of Dalit people from both a psychiatric and anthropological perspective, investigating the prominence of ADHD among Dalit children. In the second article, “Identity Politics Among Dalits,” Folmar unpacks the techniques of political dissent that Dalits use to combat their oppression in the Nepali caste system, and in the third piece of writing, Folmar offers a more popular perspective by writing in a blog post entitled “Oppression, Mental Health, and the House Science Committee” for the blog Neuroanthropology: Understanding the Encultured Brain and Body, which discusses the greater social implications of Folmar’s research from a governmental perspective. Looking first at Folmar’s (2009) article “Cross-Cultural Psychiatry in the Field: Collaborating with Anthropology” (from The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) written with Dr. Guy K. Palmes (2009), I will examine the intersectional approach and the negotiation of audience and research methods as central rhetorical constructs in anthropological writing.

Cross-Cultural Psychiatry in the Field: Collaborating with Anthropology

Folmar and Palmes (2009) begin “Cross-Cultural Psychiatry” by directly acknowledging the fundamental challenges present when writing across disciplines while simultaneously explaining the validity of writing to multiple audiences as a way to cultivate connection, understanding, and awareness between academics in psychiatry, psychology, medicine, and anthropology. In turn, this cooperation furthers the goal of both anthropology and the social sciences as networks of sub-disciplinary communities working together to instill action and produce change, specifically through the interaction of sets of quantitative and qualitative data.

To summarize, Folmar and Palmes (2009) discuss the intersection between psychological disorders and the effects of culture among Dalits in Nepal, concentrating on their research question: “[H]ow did the violent Maoist insurrection that gripped the country [Nepal] from the mid-1990s to 2006 affect the mental health of [Dalit] children, particularly the presentation of ADHD?” (Folmar and Palmes, 2009, p. 874). Yet, prior to addressing their research question, the authors examine the struggles they faced in crafting a collaborative analysis of psychological disorders from both a psychiatric and anthropological perspective with full knowledge that their audiences would also expand to the psychological and medical fields and would include linguistic and other cultural anthropologists.

Academics in psychiatry expect their articles to have the strong support of qualitative information, in the form of controlled surveys and questionnaires, as well as quantitative analysis and medical data, thus, attracting academics in the medical field (Folmar and Palmes, 2009). This discourse among the immediate audiences of psychiatry and psychology and the auxiliary audiences of academics in the medical field unveils the intricacies of Folmar and Palmes’ (2009) work and illuminates the difficulties regarding the delicate arbitration of their audiences’ research values (Covino and Jolliffe, 1995, p. 334). On the other hand, Folmar’s (2009) immediate audiences consist of academics within his specialty fields of medical and psychological anthropology while his auxiliary audiences consist of other cultural anthropologists and linguistic anthropologists. The inclusion of these auxiliary audiences opens up the door to a plethora of methodological diversity, increasing Folmar and Palmes’ (2009) responsibility to appeal to this broad range of academics by using interviews, surveys, and objective data collection to establish credibility across each disciplinary community.

Addressing the salience of interdisciplinary work as a bridge between anthropology and psychiatry motivates academics in these disciplines to engage  in a more productive dialogue about confronting other issues from a multi- faceted approach. Folmar and Palmes (2009) chose the anthropological approach of participant observation, which entailed living among the Dalit people who were viewed as participants in the research rather than subjects of it, along with the Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Rating Scale (VADRS), a standardized questionnaire used by psychiatrists in the U.S. to identify ADHD in children), to better understand the relationship between culture and mental health. This method of holistic research, used by Folmar and Palmes, provides an exigence for continued and deeper exploration of Dalits’ psychological reactions to the Maoist insurrection of the 1990s (2009).

Folmar and Palmes’ (2009) recognition of their varied audience’s rhetorical and research needs reveals the deep-rooted sense of connection that each subset of the social sciences experiences with the other disciplines and, thus, exhibits the primary values of researchers in the social sciences and anthropology to seek out interdisciplinary work and intertwine the use of quantitative and qualitative data. This negotiation between the anthropological and psychiatric audiences also leads to the integration of research techniques and investigative methodologies, resulting in a balanced and well-versed study of the psychological effects of the Maoist insurrection on Nepali Dalits (Folmar and Palmes, 2009).

“Familiarity with cultural context and experience in qualitative research may be used to augment and refine quantitative research methodology, especially around the experience of mental illness and how that experience is measured. At the same time, there is a psychiatric expertise in a certain type of qualitative evaluation—the psychiatric interview and history—that may prove useful as one structure for gaining information about the community,” (Folmar and Palmes, 2009, p. 874).

“Cross-Cultural Psychiatry” outlines the significance of interdisciplinary dialogue and the intercession of numerous academic audiences within one article while establishing ethos with each audience. As a result, Folmar and Palmes’ (2009) methodological integration of the VADRS and their participant observation in the form of living with the Dalits in the study led the authors to discover “culture influenced local understandings and experience of ADHD in a variety of ways not reducible to a single variable and that there was diversity in how people understood ADHD” (p. 875). This conclusion points to Folmar’s (2009) continued fidelity to the nuances of culture and explains the methodological balance required to have insight into these nuances in the context of mental health.

Identity Politics among Dalits in Nepal

In the second source, “Identity Politics Among Dalits in Nepal,” a chapter from the textbook Himalaya, Folmar (2007), as the lone author, investigates the controversial issue of whether or not Dalits “have internalized their low status so much that they reinforce it through their behavior” and delves into the diverse techniques perpetuating Dalit social action at a local level, which are implemented to affect change and combat both political and social oppression within the Nepali caste system (Folmar, 2007, p. 41). Folmar’s (2007) research on the political strategies of dissent Dalits use to counteract their subjugation refers back to the utility of both quantitative and qualitative research in anthropology. For example, Folmar (2007) uses interviews, personal accounts, and participant observation with the Dalit people as the pillars of his qualitative ethos; however, his quantitative research produces an exigence for the qualitative data and also positions Folmar’s (2007) interpretation of the research to convey its social ramifications by mapping the results on a grand scale, thus, providing logos for Folmar’s specialized niche of studying Dalits’ counteractions to political, social, and economic oppression.

In my interview with Dr. Folmar, he spoke about one of the struggles he faces as an anthropological writer, referencing the persistent tension between quantitative and qualitative research: “When editors continually push for more quantitative data, something is lost. There is a loss of variation in categories. For example, quantitative data can show that women in Nepal have more depression and anxiety, but it cannot say why. It is the qualitative data that tells us what being female in Nepal means” (personal communication, April 3, 2017). The push and pull between these two systems of evidentiary support solidifies the validity and reliability of Folmar’s (2007) research, for both quantitative and qualitative data are equally important tools active in conveying the legitimacy of studying Dalit culture and in classifying anthropology as a skilled balance of methodologies. Folmar’s (2007) semiotic and epistemic potential rests in his mastery of balancing this taut relationship between objective data and individual accounts and personal interpretation with the Dalit people.

Folmar (2007) states that detailed ethnography is the basis for any authentic research in anthropology, which explains why interviews and participant observation form the foundation for conducting worthy ethnographic fieldwork (personal communication, April 3, 2017). The intimate details of Folmar’s (2007) research—the qualitative data—provide the most meaning to the study of Dalit culture and Dalits’ position as the most oppressed group in the Nepali caste system. Therefore, Folmar’s (2007) use of the first-person in his writing represents both credibility and logic, thus demonstrating his rhetorical choice to invoke ethos and logos as building blocks of his anthropological writing. As a leader in Dalit studies, Folmar’s use of the first-person is not only justified because of his expertise, with over thirty-five years of experience in Nepal, beginning in 1979, but also because anthropology values the first-person as an instrument of authority emphasizing the essentialness of participant observation in ethnographic fieldwork (“Dr. Steve Folmar,” n.d.). During our interview, Folmar stated:

“It is important to overtly recognize and assert what you did while at the same time trying as much as possible to remain objective. This strategy and methodology has changed since the 1980s and including oneself in the work is more prevalent now. It is more about being an active participant in one’s research versus a passive participant” (personal communication, April 3, 2017).

Consequently, Folmar (2007) invokes the first-person as a means of producing ethos, pathos, and logos in his research because it establishes his credibility by demonstrating his proximity to, and relationships with Dalit people; it evokes an augmented emotional response from his audiences—in the fields of political science, religion, economics, and anthropology— by adding his personal empathy and compassion for Dalits’ social, political, and economic hardships, and it shows the logic of his qualitative research, such as interviewing Dalits about their tactics of dissent from the caste system and working with Dalits to assert their cultural equality through economic means, by presenting himself as an expert with the academic authority to discuss Dalit culture on such an intimate level. As a result, “Identity Politics among Dalits in Nepal” gives meaning to Folmar’s (2007) rhetorical style as he continually employs ethos, pathos, and logos as ways to further tailor his writing to meet the needs of interdisciplinary audiences and to incorporate a variety of research methodologies.

Oppression, Mental Health, and the House Science Committee

In contrast, the third source from Folmar, “Oppression, Mental Health, and the House Science Committee,” appeals to a more generalized and popular audience as it is a blog post from Neuroanthropology: Understanding the Encultured Brain and Body hosted by The Pubic Library of Science Blogs (PLOS Blogs). In this blog post, Folmar’s (2014) rhetorical style pivots to accommodate his new audiences of academics and blog readers interested in neuroanthropology as well as the readers of PLOS Blogs, which involves a broad and vast collection of readers; Folmar’s (2014) shift in rhetorical style occurs as a reaction to changes in his audience and, therefore, changes in his style and level of analysis. In moving away from his specialty niche audiences in medical and psychological anthropology, who are familiar with the global social ramifications of developing understanding of Dalits’ mental health issues, Folmar (2014) presents a simplified snapshot of his work in Nepal. However, even while facing the constraints on content and detail inherent in a popular blog post, Folmar (2014) continues to reiterate anthropology as an interdisciplinary crossroads bolstered by its methodological balance.

In “Oppression, Mental Health, and the House Science Committee,” Folmar (2014) defends his research regarding Dalits’ mental health in Nepal in reaction to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology requesting the “jacket” for his most recent project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Folmar, 2014). “The jacket is an informal term that refers to all information related to a project,” from emails and text messages to field notes and peer reviews; requesting this information acts as an academic audit of sorts (Folmar, 2014, p. 2). Folmar (2014) not only defends his research in this blog post, but also seeks to explain to his readers interested in neuroanthropology and PLOS Blogs the exigence for his work among the Dalit people by using generalized synopsis and capitalizing the broader impact of his research as a help in understanding mental health in the United States (Folmar, 2014). After a brief explanation of his numerous years of experience in Nepal and his motivations to understand how aspects of identity and the “self” contribute to Dalits’ mental health, Folmar (2014) writes, “By providing new ideas and information, the research in Nepal can help improve knowledge and treatment of psychiatric problems in ways that will improve the mental health of our own citizens,” thus, Folmar (2014) appeals to his new immediate and auxiliary audiences (Covino and Jolliffe, 1995) by describing his work with Dalits as both relevant and necessary to the mental health of Americans and other nations (Folmar, 2014, p. 2).

Moreover, Folmar (2014) stresses the marriage of methodologies again as a definitive marker of anthropology, and recognition of this trait, in a much more generalized article reaching an extremely diverse and broad population of readers, speaks to its significance: “The project adheres to a mixed-method approach which is highly valued in anthropology because it emphasizes the strengths of two perspectives that are often at odds, the scientific and the humanistic, the quantitative and the qualitative” (Folmar, 2014, p. 5). Using this as a transition point, Folmar (2014) dives into the relationship between anthropology and psychiatry and the essential nature of their interdisciplinary collaboration: “Thus, our overall research approach pertains directly to studying mental health in the U.S.; if we narrow our focus only to medicine, how do we understand how family, world view, and spirituality intersect with our mental well-being? Only by using a more open, comprehensive methodology will we know” (Folmar, 2014, p. 6).

Folmar’s (2014) quotation encapsulates the heart of this case study. In two sentences, he identifies the global social impact of researching Dalits’ mental health, the necessity of cross-disciplinary engagement in dissecting this research, and the successful execution of cross- disciplinary collaboration through the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods. “Oppression, Mental Health, and the House Science Committee,” as a popular article, holds true the values of anthropology while also demonstrating the changes in Folmar’s (2014) rhetorical style from incredibly detailed and nuanced analysis of his work to simplified summaries employed to defend and effectively describe his research with Dalits to a highly diversified, varied, and broad audience of readers subscribing to this blog.

Conclusion

Folmar describes anthropological writing as an “iterative process, one that is not neatly divided or compartmentalized,” for, ultimately, he is continually seeking a more detailed answer to the question what does it mean to be a Dalit? (personal communication, April 3, 2017). The complexity of this question drives the motivations behind anthropology as an interdisciplinary crossroads of methodological diversity; therefore, the significance and power of detailed ethnography cannot be understated as the foundation of research for cultural anthropologists. Folmar stated, “Everything comes back to ethnography. It is about immersing oneself with a people and their culture and then striving to write both objectively and reflexively about one’s experiences” (personal communication, April 3, 2017). Yet, Folmar struggles with the increasingly prevalent notion that novelty and newness are being valued over content and detailed ethnographic fieldwork. In our interview, Folmar said, “Anthropological journals expect a new contribution. When we write, we have to overvalue what we’ve done, and yet, new theoretical contributions are not always really new” (personal communication, April 3, 2017).

Hyland (2000) even defines part of a disciplinary community’s knowledge-making potential by its ability to contribute something “new” or “original”; however, is it possible that this substantial emphasis towards original contributions stifles the merit of ethnography and distracts from a study’s actual results (p. 12)? Furthermore, Porter (1986) argues that the concept of originality may not be as concrete as one would prefer, considering the majority of writing, in the context of both academic and creative fields, merely demonstrates intertextuality—“the principle that all writing and speech arise from a single network or ‘web of meaning’” (p. 396). By no means did Folmar intimate that originality and novelty alone form the basis for an anthropological journal’s evaluative criteria, but his point is a crucial addition in the conversation about the direction in which academic writing as a whole is heading.

Fittingly, this calls for an examination of Western culture and its effects on the expectations of publishers, editors, and writers working in academia. Porter (1986) suggests that intertextuality threatens the romantic idea of the writer as an autonomous individual, in turn, threatening the concept of individualism as a pillar of Western culture (p. 402). Is Western culture’s obsession with individualism a hindrance to an audience’s focus on research results replaced by a focus on what is new and “original?” Folmar’s dissonance with this issue in anthropological writing points to a broader issue within academic writing as a whole: Is it plausible to release ourselves from “the writer as hero” archetype in order to protect the genuineness of academic research (Porter, 1986, p. 402)?


Works Cited

Covino, W., & Jolliffe, D. (1995). What Is Rhetoric? Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries (pp. 3-26). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Folmar, D. S. (2007). Identity Politics Among Dalits in Nepal. In Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (Vol. 27). Macalester College.

Folmar, S., & Palmes, G. K. (2009). Cross-Cultural Psychiatry in the Field: Collaborating With Anthropology. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,48(9), 873-876. doi:10.1097/chi.0b013e3181ae09b6

Graduate Faculty – WFU CEES. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://cees.wfu.edu/graduate-program-faculty/

Hyland, K. (2000). Disciplinary discourses: social interactions in academic writing. England: Longman.

Oppression, Mental Health, and the House Science Committee. (2015, October 12). Retrieved April 04, 2017, from http://blogs.plos.org/ neuroanthropology/2014/10/23/oppression-mental-health-house-science- committee/

Porter, J. E. (1986). Intertextuality and the Discourse Community. In Rhetoric Review (51th ed., pp. 34-47).


A Word from Maclane

Picture of Maclane PaddockThe experience of writing “Exploring the Art of Ethnography: A Case Study of Anthropologist Dr. Steven Folmar” stretched and challenged me as a writer. Coming into college, I felt that I had plateaued in my writing style and technique and my goal was to find a class that would push me to test my boundaries as a writer, to experiment, and to be creative. From my class with Professor Laura Giovanelli, Writing 210: Academic Research and Writing, my own
writing has evolved immensely into this new and exciting practice of self-reflection and self-actualization. The writing process of my case study allowed me the opportunity to deeply study the rhetoric of anthropological writing on a small scale – to practice meta-writing, or writing about writing. This reexamination of rhetorical devices and styles provided me a new and intriguing lens with which to view my own writing, especially in terms of understanding and appreciating one’s audience and their rhetorical needs.
My essay was able to come to life in the revision process, and this revision process involved and engaged my classmates as some of the primary sources of change and challenge in my writing process. Professor Giovanelli’s revision workshops were incredibly helpful in that I had the rare chance to see if my thesis and evidence were working in tandem to accomplish the take-away I intended for my readers after engaging this essay. The revision process was especially focused on my introduction, which just so happens to also be my favorite part of my essay because of how much time I spent on it. I rewrote my introduction over and over again until I had cut out everything I loved about it in order to find its best form. This is the struggle and beauty of revision, for, in “killing your darlings,” one has the potential to find an even better piece of writing by being brave, trying something new, and catering to the audience rather than themselves.


From Professor Laura Giovanelli

Assignment

Our first and second projects have been building up to this major one of the semester: your in-depth investigation and analysis of how and why someone in your prospective field writes. Now that you have more of the concepts, conversation, and language—the discourse—of writing studies, you’re ready to ask the research questions you need to in order to demystify, untangle and communicate to other writing scholars some of the rhetorical moves a writer in a specific field/ discourse community is making, even if they themselves do not know explicity what they are doing.

In more complex academic writing such as this one, it often helps to think of your writing as an answer to a research questions and why your contributions matters. Your answers are how you’re adding to a conversation. What’s your analysis (thinking of this breaking down these choices into categories) of language choices the writer has made? What are the interpretations you can make (your argument)? What are the implications based on what you’ve found? Here, your general research question will be the answer to the query” how to write like a       , e.g. a case study of how to write like a chemist. As an apprentice writer in your field, your insight and ultimately the conclusions you make about how writing in that discipline gets made (at least by one writer) will greatly benefit you as you become a more self-aware, thoughtful member of a discourse community.

This project will be broken down into steps to make it manageable and you’ll have mini-guides to those parts of this project as we work. Keeping up with the steps of this process can make this project ultimately more successful and straightforward; conversely, falling behind may compound possible mistakes. Stay on track by being mindful of our scheduling (you can find due dates on this guide and we’ll be talking more about what needs to get done in each step in class).

This project includes composing a proposal and interview questions, close textual analysis of writing samples through the rhetorical concept writing-about-writing lenses we’ve had on all semester, interviewing a writer, all culminating in a case study where you will make about a supported argument about the writing of a field in which you have an interest and may be a writer yourself someday soon. Your primary evidence in this project will come here from your analysis of your case study subject’s writing and your interview. At least two of these samples should be formal, published writing but you may also examine and analyze informal, unpublished writing from your case study subject, too. That contrast may give you something interesting to argue!

We’ll break this project into three stages:

  • Proposal with interview dates and potential questions. Read the separate guide, linked on our
  • Annotated reading/early textual analysis (separate guide, linked on our website).
  • Case study written analysis and argument. We’ll be reading examples of these, too, to help you figure out what these look like as a genre of academic

As in your first two projects, a successful case study will include:

  • A summary and description of your primary evidence to orient your audience in your context and circumstances.
  • A clear argument, or main idea, gleaned from evidence (e.g. patterns and traits) later supported by evidence, including accurate and meaningful use of rhetorical language we’ve untangled such as exigence, constraints, audience, discourse (and discourse/disciplinary communities), genre, purpose, and more. A substantial analysis will reach beyond a simple argument of “what?” to something stronger: “so what?” and “why?” and “who cares?”
  • A logical structure, including a beginning, middle, and most importantly, an ending that takes readers somewhere new, not just in a circle back to your beginning.
  • Cited evidence from external sources using APA style (the style generally used by the discourse community of writing studies) that help build your ethos and insert you in an ongoing academic conversation about writing.

After all this, worry about Lower Order Concerns like grammar and spelling and general addressing of typographical errors.

Professor Commentary

That class introduces students to academic writing and argumentation across the disciplines. Specifically, we get under the hood of academic writing–our own and others. In Spring 2016 our semester culminated in an in-depth case study of an academic writer that interested each student. After preliminary proposals and rhetorical analysis, students analyzed three pieces of their case study subject’s writing and interviewed them, asking questions about what writing means to people who think and discover for a living and more practically, how can a greater awareness of academic writing, research, and argument could help them as novice writers progress in their major or field.

In her case analysis, Maclane makes a few exemplary moves as an academic writer writing about other writers: her main argument and general center of gravity, which I think is around her research question area in her introduction on p. 3, clearly signals to readers her intentions as a curious academic writer, but also starts to gesture toward her findings and why they matter in a larger sense in academic writing and particularly in the disciplinary community of anthropologists: she begins to ask and answer her research questions. Next, her evidence and analysis is precise and rigorous, grounded in Folmar’s texts. I also enjoy that Maclane was deliberate in making connections in our ongoing semester-long conversation as a writer writing for writing studies; she’s attentive to our disciplinary community and how she may build and contribute knowledge there, particularly in her connections between Porter and Hyland (two writing studies scholars we read in class) and her case study findings near her conclusion. I’m so intrigued that Maclane found that Dr. Folmar, an experienced anthropologist, wrestles with originality and novelty in his own writing and knowledge-making in his field (p. 13). Through this, Maclane is pushing the conversation forward as well demystifying what makes us as writers and thinkers tick, demonstrating that even complex academic writing and thinking is a lifelong journey and academic writing itself a dynamic enterprise. It made me as a writing about writing geek—someone who is somewhat familiar with a few big conversations in this field—wonder something new, which was exciting for me. At the end of the day, that’s what I selfishly seek in student writing as a writing teacher: something surprising, fresh, and a new destination.

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