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Brenda M Farnell

Professor of American Indian Studies and Anthropology

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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.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Socio-cultural and Linguistic Anthropology

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

Distinctions / Awards

  • 2017 UIUC Department of Anthropology Distinguished Service Award
  • 2009 UIUC Department of Anthropology, Distinguished Service Award.
  • 2002 Appointment to Research Associate, UIUC Center for Advanced Study.
  • 2000 Helen Corley Petit Scholar. UIUC Award for Outstanding Promotion to Tenure
  • 1998 Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Faculty Research Fellowship 1998-99
  • 1997 CD ROM selected for special public presentation at Native American Film Festival, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York
  • 1996 Winner of ‘Haozous Award’ for Best CD ROM, New Technologies section, Native Americas International Film Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Grants

  • 2011 Co–Investigator, "Indigenous Knowledge, Contemporary Performance." Research Creation Grant, SSHRC (Social Science and Humanities Research Council), Canada
  • 2010 Scoring the Body through Indigenous Aesthetic Principles in Native American Dramatic Art. UIUC Campus Research Board
  • 2009 UIUC Research Board, Humanities Research Leave
  • 2005 & 6 UIUC Research Board Award: “Talking from the Body in Post-modern Dance”

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)

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.

Book Contributions


  • Farnell, Brenda, and Robert N. Wood. "Intimate Choreographies.." Collaborative Intimacies in Music and Dance. . Comp. Panagiotis Karampampas. Ed. Evangelos Chrysagis. Brooklyn and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2016. 65-95.

  • Farnell, Brenda , and Laura R. Graham. "Discourse Centered Methods." Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Second Edition. . Lanham MD. & London: Rowan & Littlefield, 2014.

  • Farnell, Brenda, and Robert N. Wood. "Performing Precision and the Limits of Observation." Redrawing Anthropology: Materials, Movements, Lines. . Ed. 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. . Ed. Marcus Banks and Jay Ruby. University of Chicago Press, 2011. 136-158.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "North American Indian Dance." Dictionary of American History (3rd edition) Vol. 2. . Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 500-501.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Sign Language, Indian." Dictionary of American History (3rd edition) Vol. 7. . Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 357-358.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "It Goes Without Saying--But Not Always." Dance in the Field: Theory, Methods and Issues in Dance Ethnography. . Ed. Theresa Buckland. London: Macmillan Press, 1999. 145-160.

  • Farnell, Brenda, and Laura Graham. "Discourse Centered Methods." Handbook of Methods in Anthropology. . Ed. H. R. Bernard. Thousand Oaks, CA: Altamira Press, Sage Publications, 1998. 411-458.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Sign Language." Encyclopedia of the American Indian. . Ed. Fred Hoxie. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 589-590.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Gesture and Movement." Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. . Ed. D. Levinson and M. Ember. Human Relations Area Files, Yale University, American Reference Publishing Co., 1996. 536-541.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Movement Writing Systems." The World’s Writing Systems. . Ed. Peter Daniels and William Bright. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. 855-879.

  • 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. . Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995. 82-111.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Introduction." Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in Movement and Dance. . Ed. Brenda Farnell. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995. 1-28.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Nakota Makoc’e: An American Indian Storytelling Performance." Yearbook of the International Council for Traditional Music. . 1991. 79-99.

  • Farnell, Brenda. "Body Movement Notation." International Encyclopedia of Communications. . Ed. E. Barnouw. Philadelphia: Oxford University/ University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989. 203-209.

Edited Books


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

Journal Articles

  • "“The Second Somatic Revolution.” [Special Issue on Dynamic Embodiment Theory] ." Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 23.2 (2016):
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Indigenous Dances on Stage: Embodied Knowledge at Risk?." Taiwan Dance Research Journal 4 (2008): 151-180.
  • Farnell, Brenda, and Charles Varela. "The Second Somatic Revolution." Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 38.3 (2008): 215-240.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Choreographing Colonialism in the American West." Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 14.3 (2007):
  • Farnell, Brenda, and Robert Wood. "Choreography as Live Theoretical Practice." Proceedings of the Society of Dance History Scholars (2007):
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Dancing With Authorization: From the Reservation to Ramallah." Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 14.4 (2007):
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Developments in the Study of ‘Gesture’ in Language." Anthropological Linguistics 46.1 (2005): 100-115.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "The Fancy Dance of Racializing Discourse." Journal for Sport and Social Issues 28.1 (2004): 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): 212-215.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Birdwhistell, Hall, Lomax and the Origins of Visual Anthropology." Visual Anthropology 16 (2003): 43-55.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Dynamic Embodiment in Assiniboine (Nakota) Storytelling." Anthropological Linguistics 44.1 (2002): 37-64.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Rethinking Verbal and Non-Verbal in Discursive Performance." Textus 14 (2001): 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): 397-418.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Moving Bodies, Acting Selves." Annual Review of Anthropology 28 (1999): 341-73.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Metaphors We Move By." Visual Anthropology 8 (1996): 311-335.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Ethnography Goes Interactive." Anthropology Today Oct. (1995): 7-10.
  • "Ethno-Graphics and the Moving Body." MAN, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 29.4 (1994): 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): 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): 100-116.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Two Sign Languages: A Report on Work in Progress." Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 3.1 (1984): 8-35.
  • 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): 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): 166-185.
  • Farnell, Brenda, and Dixie Durr. "Spatial Orientation and the Notion of Constant Oppositions." Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement 1.4 (1981): 226-245.

Special Issues of a Journal

Encyclopedia Entries

  • Farnell, Brenda . "Mindful Body.." International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Wiley Online Library., 2017.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Techniques of the Body." International Encyclopedia of Anthropology.. Wiley Online Library , 2017.
  • Farnell, Brenda. "Kinesthetic System." The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology. London and New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2015.