Teaching Theory

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 11:36:59 +0900

Replying to Robert Lawless query on teaching anthropological theory,
Donna Lanclos writes as follows:

"Absolutely right--grads aren't getting a systematic training in
philosophy and theory of any kind, unless they create a program for
themselves that includes such things. Undergrads? Even less so, as far
as I can tell." Lawless' own complaint that recent textbooks on
theory start in the mid-1800s may also be behind the curve. At the
last AAA meetings in Washington, I was talking to Brackette Williams
who complained that her students seem appalled when asked to read
anything as ancient as Geertz or Turner.

Again I observe that we have shifted from a "classical" view of
as adding to an on-going conversation to a "market" view
of knowledge in which predecessors are surpressed to enhance the
apparent novely of what is offered to replace them. The principles

are those which govern the music video business. Only a few have
staying power (Geertz=the Stones, perhaps?). Most of us will never
make it to the charts. That wasn't such a bad thing when we saw
ourselves as links, however minor, in continuing a great tradition.
When "me" and "mine" are all there is, there lies desolation.

John McCreery
February 23, 1996