This course explores what we do with language and other modes of expression and how these modes shape our communicative capacities. Why do we gossip? How do we decide what communication is appropriate face-to-face or via text or email? What informs our beliefs about civility and obscenity? How do we decide what credible speech is? What happens when a culturally rooted expressive form (say, a dance) is taken up by people elsewhere for other aesthetic and political ends? We will explore such questions by studying theories and ethnographies of a range of phenomena: love-letters, gossip, poetry, asylum appeals, spoken word, and more.