Re: History of Anhtro.

Matthew Hill (mhhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Sun, 21 May 1995 08:45:27 -0400

On Fri, 19 May 1995, Joseph M. O'Neal wrote:

> In the fall I will be teaching a small section of History of Anthropology for
> students in an adult degree program. I would appreciate advice on how to set up
> and run this course, particularly ideas for the syllabus and readings.
> My problem is not that I can't think of a good way to design the course, but tha
> t
> I can think of too many good ways. Very few of the students will go on to
> graduate school in anthro., so I don't want to use readings that are too
> specialized or obscure. I want to assign readings that are interesting and
> relevant. The latter criterion makes me reluctant to assign books from the 19th
> century, for example; how often do we really need to think about Tyler and Maine
> and Morgan? Or more precisely, how often would we need to think about them if w
> e
> were not teaching or practicing anthropology as a profession?

It strikes me that your characterization of who the students will be
suggests that teaching the 19th century ideas may be particularly
After all, 19th century evolutionism is one of the domininant pop paradigms
of cultural theory and they really need to know whence it came and why
it came to be rejected as a professional paradigm.

I would avoid dealing with much material which has not stood the
test of some time. Most of what was the hot theoretical stuff at the AAA
meetings I started going to in the 60s has been long forgotten even by
those who were intent on revolutionizing the discipline with it. Note that
I say most, not all, but I doubt that anyone had a real handle on what was
going to be in the textbooks 30 years later and what was going to be
relegated to footnotes in Ph.D. theses.