Brenda M. Farnell
SPEECH, GESTURE, SPACE IN AMERICAN INDIAN COMMUNITIES
During her Center appointment, Professor Farnell will undertake a cross-cultural comparative study of how people in three contemporary Plains Indian communities integrate speech, gesture, and spatial knowledge in their everyday interaction and artistic practices. Grounded in extensive ethnographic field research and indigenous conceptions of language and person, her project seeks to make a substantial contribution to current international debates on the study of gesture, co-expressive speech/gesture, sign-languages studies, and discursive approaches to culture. The research will present a new theoretical basis for investigating relationships between speech and body movement. This entails abandoning traditional Western concepts of verbal and nonverbal communication for that of dynamically embodied discourse in socially constructed semiotic spaces—spaces that are simultaneously physical, conceptual, ethical, and moral. The analytic approach involves testing innovative linguistic database software (currently under development) and building a multimedia database.