Re: Four fields and teaching intro courses

Mike Salovesh (t20mxs1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Mon, 3 Apr 1995 20:44:14 -0500

OK, maybe the four field approach is dead at North Carolina State--as it
is, now, at Columbia. But I'm not about to cheer.

Matter of fact, we have two faculty members (out of about a dozen) who
regularly teach linguistic anthropology at NIU. I also teach the
language 'n' culture course, myself, from time to time--make us two and a
half (or some smaller fraction) for that.

I admit that Chomsky's revolution ALMOST put us out of the linguistic
anthropology business. But if you adopt the logic of his statement that
the only authority as to the grammaticality of an utterance is a native
speaker of the language, it follows that we also should have gotten out
of studying anybody but anthropologists. Do you buy that?

If you go back to the message I sent, I wasn't talking about one
course in each field constituting a four-field approach. As a grad
student I had three each in archaeology and physical, and much more in
linguistic and social/cultural anthro.

The important thing, though, is not the number of courses that were
required or the extra ones I picked up. Much more meaningful was the fact
that the faculty at Chicago, where I took most of my work, was dedicated
to the symbiosis that comes from interactions of anthro's subdisciplines.
Of course, that was back in the old, old days. Those are the same days,
and the same four-field approach, that Patty Jo Watson was talking about
in her distinguished address at last fall's AAA meetings. (There was
nothing unusual in the fact that Patty Jo, on her way to a focus in
archaeology, and I, then thinking I was going to be a linguistic
anthropologist, both were participants in a seven-student seminar on
ethnographic method taught by Robert Redfield back in 1956.)

The kind of symbiosis I'm talking about showed up, for example, the time
we had a guest speaker at the Monday afternoon department seminar. As we
broke to go to supper, Sherry Washburn invited everybody to come to his
class for an hour on Tuesday for a continuation of the discussion; Kim
Romney then said ". . . and then come to MY class on Wednesday, and I'll
give it the whole two hours". Most of us--faculty and students--went to
both. And kept talking after those classes.

I suppose that's the point. When we decided that we didn't have much to
say to each other any more, I think anthropology became much the poorer.
That was a decision based on the politics of anthropology, not on the
merits of the case: I still think we have lots to say to each other. It's
the absence of that cross-fertilization that I decry.

-- mike salovesh <>

====================== Written in response to: ============================

On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, James M. Wallace wrote:

> The four field approach has been dead a long time, already. I can hardly believe that taking
> one course in each field constitutes the four field approach. Many departments do not now
> have a linguistic anthropologists and the very people that decry the death of the 4 field
> approach forget that linguistic anthropology is not present in their own faculty.
> Tim
> ***************************************************************
> James M. (Tim) Wallace Tel: 919-515-2491
> Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology Fax: 919-515-2610
> N. Carolina State University Email:
> Box 8107, Raleigh, NC 27695-8107
> ***************************************************************