Brenda Farnell

Contact Information

Department of Anthropology
607 S Mathews Ave.
M/C 148
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Hours

  • Th 1:30-3:00 and by appt.
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor
View CV

Additional Campus Affiliations

Biography

Brenda Farnell is an anthropologist with a professional background in modern dance and dance education in England, U.K.  Her broad research interests coalesce around an enduring interest in the rich complexity and diversity of body movement practices in human lives and their relative absence in Western modes of academic thought.

Research Description

(i) Anthropology of dance, human movement & performance; arts/expressive culture; body/embodied personhood; socio-cultural theory and philosophy; semiotic anthropology; movement literacy (Labanotation); visual anthropology, multimedia ethnography; Indigenous theater and postcolonialism; American contemporary concert dance/choreographic process.

(ii) Linguistic anthropology: discourse; gesture and signed languages; integration of speech and action; ethnopoetics; problems of embodiment in linguistics and social theory; endangered languages and language revitalization.

(iii) Ethnographic Areas: Indigenous North America; Plains Indians; field research among the Nakota (Assiniboine), Crow (Montana & Canada) and Kiowa, Comanche (Oklahoma). Plains storytelling performance with sign language; Embodiment and Native Epistemologies in Contemporary Indigenous Theatre.

Education

  • Ph.D. Social Cultural & Linguistic Anthropology, Indiana University (Bloomington), 1990
  • M.A. Anthropology of Human Movement, New York University, 1984
  • Advanced Diploma in Dance and Human Movement Studies, Laban Dance Center, Goldsmiths College, London University, England, 1977
  • B. Ed. (Teaching Diploma) I. M. Marsh College, Liverpool University, England. (Major: Dance Studies & Physical Education. Minor: Biology), 1969

Courses

  • American Indians of Illinois (ANTH 288)
  • Body Personhood and Culture (ANTH 362)
  • Languages and Cultures of Native North America (ANTH 165)
  • Linguistic Anthropology (ANTH 270)
  • Talking Culture (ANTH 104)
  • Anthropology of Dance and Human Movement (ANTH 363)
  • Ethnography Through Language (ANTH 471)
  • Language in Culture I (ANTH 512)
  • Body Movement Literacy (ANTH 499)
  • Body, Personhood and Cultural Theory (ANTH 515)
  • Language in Culture II (ANTH 518)
  • Dynamic Embodiment (ANTH 523)

Selected Publications

Books

Dynamic Embodiment for Social theory: ‘I Move Therefore I am' London Routledge 2012.
Farnell, Brenda Do You See What I Mean?: Plains Indian Sign Talk and the Embodiment of Action Austin University of Texas Press 1995.
Farnell, Brenda, and Drid Williams The Laban Script: A Beginning Text on Movement Writing for Non-Dancers Canberra Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies 1990.

Edited Books

Farnell, Brenda Action Sign Systems in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance Metuchen, NJ Scarecrow Press 1995.

Special Issues of a Journal

Body Movement and Dance in Global Perspective: An International Conference Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 16 1-2 2009.

Book Contributions

Farnell, Brenda, and Laura R. Graham Discourse Centered Methods Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Second Edition Discourse Centered Methods Lanham MD. & London Rowan & Littlefield 2013.
Farnell, Brenda, and Robert Wood Performing Precision and the Limits of Observation Redrawing Anthropology: Materials, Movements Lines edited by Tim Ingold. Performing Precision and the Limits of Observation Edited by Tim Ingold, London Ashgate Press 2012.
Farnell, Brenda Theorizing ‘The Body’ in Visual Culture Made To Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology edited by Marcus Banks, edited by Jay Ruby. Theorizing ‘The Body’ in Visual Culture Edited by Marcus Banks, Edited by Jay Ruby, University of Chicago Press 2011, p. 136-158.
Farnell, Brenda North American Indian Dance Dictionary of American History (3rd edition) Vol. 2 edited by Stanley Kutler. North American Indian Dance Edited by Stanley Kutler, New York Charles Scribner’s Sons 2003, p. 500-501.
Farnell, Brenda Sign Language, Indian Dictionary of American History (3rd edition) Vol. 7 edited by Stanley Kutler. Sign Language, Indian Edited by Stanley Kutler, New York Charles Scribner’s Sons 2003, p. 357-358.
Farnell, Brenda It Goes Without Saying--But Not Always Dance in the Field: Theory, Methods and Issues in Dance Ethnography edited by Theresa Buckland. It Goes Without Saying--But Not Always Edited by Theresa Buckland, London Macmillan Press 1999, p. 145-160.
Farnell, Brenda, and Laura Graham Discourse Centered Methods Handbook of Methods in Anthropology edited by H. Bernard. Discourse Centered Methods Edited by H. Bernard, Thousand Oaks, CA Altamira Press, Sage Publications 1998, p. 411-458.
Farnell, Brenda Sign Language Encyclopedia of the American Indian edited by Fred Hoxie. Sign Language Edited by Fred Hoxie, New York Houghton Mifflin 1997, p. 589-590.
Farnell, Brenda Gesture and Movement Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology edited by D. Levinson, edited by M. Ember. Gesture and Movement Edited by D. Levinson, Edited by M. Ember, Human Relations Area Files, Yale University, American Reference Publishing Co. 1996, p. 536-541.
Farnell, Brenda Movement Writing Systems The World’s Writing Systems edited by Peter Daniels, edited by William Bright. Movement Writing Systems Edited by Peter Daniels, Edited by William Bright, Oxford Oxford University Press 1996, p. 855-879.
Farnell, Brenda Introduction Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance edited by Brenda Farnell. Introduction Edited by Brenda Farnell, Metuchen, NJ Scarecrow Press 1995, p. 1-28.
Farnell, Brenda Where Mind is a Verb: Spatial Orientation and Deixis in Plains Indian Sign Talk and Assiniboine (Nakota) Culture Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance Where Mind is a Verb: Spatial Orientation and Deixis in Plains Indian Sign Talk and Assiniboine (Nakota) Culture Metuchen, NJ Scarecrow Press 1995, p. 82-111.
Farnell, Brenda Nakota Makoc’e: An American Indian Storytelling Performance Yearbook of the International Council for Traditional Music Nakota Makoc’e: An American Indian Storytelling Performance 1991, p. 79-99.
Farnell, Brenda Body Movement Notation International Encyclopedia of Communications edited by E. Barnouw. Body Movement Notation Edited by E. Barnouw, Philadelphia Oxford University/ University of Pennsylvania Press 1989, p. 203-209.

Journal Articles

Farnell, Brenda, and Charles Varela The Second Somatic Revolution Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 38 3 2008, p. 215-240.
Farnell, Brenda Indigenous Dances on Stage: Embodied Knowledge at Risk? Taiwan Dance Research Journal 4 2008, p. 151-180.
Farnell, Brenda Dancing With Authorization: From the Reservation to Ramallah Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 14 4 2007.
Farnell, Brenda, and Robert Wood Choreography as Live Theoretical Practice Proceedings of the Society of Dance History Scholars 2007.
Farnell, Brenda Choreographing Colonialism in the American West Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 14 3 2007.
Farnell, Brenda Developments in the Study of ‘Gesture’ in Language Anthropological Linguistics 46 1 2005, p. 100-115.
Farnell, Brenda The Fancy Dance of Racializing Discourse Journal for Sport and Social Issues 28 1 2004, p. 30-55.
Farnell, Brenda Zero Sum Game: An Update on the Native American Mascot Controversy at the University of Illinois Journal for Sport and Social Issues 28 2 2004, p. 212-215.
Farnell, Brenda Birdwhistell, Hall, Lomax and the Origins of Visual Anthropology Visual Anthropology 16 2003, p. 43-55.
Farnell, Brenda Dynamic Embodiment in Assiniboine (Nakota) Storytelling Anthropological Linguistics 44 1 2002, p. 37-64.
Farnell, Brenda Rethinking Verbal and Non-Verbal in Discursive Performance Textus 14 2001, p. 417-436.
Farnell, Brenda Getting Out of the Habitus: An Alternative Model of Dynamically Embodied Social Action Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6 2000, p. 397-418.
Farnell, Brenda Moving Bodies, Acting Selves Annual Review of Anthropology 28 1999, p. 341-73.
Farnell, Brenda Metaphors We Move By Visual Anthropology 8 1996, p. 311-335.
Farnell, Brenda Ethnography Goes Interactive Anthropology Today Oct. 1995, p. 7-10.
Ethno-Graphics and the Moving Body MAN, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 29 4 1994, p. 929-974.
Farnell, Brenda Some Problems with Spoken Language Models in the Analysis of Sign Languages Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 5 1 1988, p. 19-31.
Farnell, Brenda The Hands of Time: An Exploration into some Features of Deixis in American Sign Language Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 3 3 1985, p. 100-116.
Farnell, Brenda Two Sign Languages: A Report on Work in Progress Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 3 1 1984, p. 8-35.
Farnell, Brenda, and Dixie Durr Spatial Orientation and the Notion of Constant Oppositions Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 1 4 1981, p. 226-245.
Farnell, Brenda Deep Structures of the Dance: A Reply to Zellinger’s ‘Directions for a Semiotics of Dance’ Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 2 2 1982, p. 112-119.
Farnell, Brenda Dance and Dance Education in England: A British Point of View Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 1 3 1981, p. 166-185.