Marilyn Merritt

Marilyn Merritt

Professorial Lecturer in Anthropology
Faculty: Adjunct
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Language and media in public places and spaces; creativity, interdisciplinary, and social change; situated discourse analysis; ritual and civility; education and visual literacies; cross-cultural understanding and scientific collaboration.

Dr. Merritt is a linguistic anthropologist whose interests include situated discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, literacy and education, and ethnographic approaches to cross-cultural understanding and changing media. She has lived several years outside the United States, in India, Kenya, Niger, and Senegal.

Current Research

Dr. Merritt is engaged in integrating findings from Africa, North America, and India about the role of expressive and interactive modalities in learning, literacy, leadership, and creativity. This builds on her work on service encounters, classroom discourse, women's identities, and international development.


Ph.D. 1976, University of Pennsylvania
M.A. 1966, Washington University in St. Louis
B.A. 1963, Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis


2008  Merritt, M. "Identities:  Looking back over forty years as a woman, mother and social scientist."  In Emily Monosson (ed.) Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory:  Women Scientists Speak Out (pp. 41-50).  Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press.  Paperback edition 2010.

1998 Merritt, M. "Of ritual matters to master: Structure and improvisation in language development in primary classrooms." In Hoyle, S.M., and C.T. Adger, eds. Kids Talk: Strategies of Language Use among Older Children. New York: Oxford University Press.

1994 Merritt, M. Advancing Education and Literacy in Niger: Observations, Reflections, and Recommendations. Niamey: UNICEF-Niger.

1992 Merritt, M., A. Cleghorn, J. Abagi, and G. Bunyi. "Socialising multilingualism — Determinants of code-switching in Kenyan primary classrooms," Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 13(1-2): 103-121.

1988 Merritt, M., and M.H. Abdulaziz. "Swahili as a national language in East Africa." In F. Coulmas, ed., With Forked Tongues: What Are National Languages Good For? Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers.

1976 Merritt, M. "On questions following questions in service encounters," Language and Society 5: 315-357. Doi:10.1017/S0047404500007168

Classes Taught

To see syllabi, click on the course title.

Anth 1004 (old 004): Language in Culture and Society
Anth 3602 (162): Ethnographic Analysis of Speech
Anth 3691 (169): Topics: Language and the Social Construction of Identities
Anth 3991 (196): Topics: Women and Language


Last updated March 25, 2014