From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Social and Cultural Theory—Ethnography Review Essay 2015

[a] Modeled RF
This is the last writing assignment (this year) in my social and cultural theory course. All term, students have been reading theoretical essays in various anthologies and working diligently to make them make sense. The whole purpose of the course is to learn to use theoretical insights in our own work, and that means that we must position the readings in their historical context, learn what has changed, what theoretical trails have run cold, and, sometimes, find the ones that we need to travel down...again. Toward that end, I assign two sets of ethnographies for students upon which students can test their growing skills. They may choose either Renato Rosaldo's Ilongot Headhunting and Michelle Rosaldo's Knowledge and Passion—both the product of extensive, partnered fieldwork in the Philippines. The other choice is Edward Schieffelin's The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers and Steven Feld's Sound and Sentiment—the products of another kind of teamwork among the Kaluli of New Guinea. The readings take two weeks, and they culminate in this assignment.
Social and Cultural Theory
Anthropology 206
“Penultimate” Assignment
Ethnography, Theory, and a Sense of Place 
[b] Dance-sound RF

The Basics 
Read your two ethnographies from weeks twelve and thirteen on the syllabus. Write an essay of at least 3,000 words (about ten pages) commenting upon some of the many themes found in these ethnographies (noting the assignment title above) and showing their connections to the materials we have studied up to this point in the course.

Although this assignment is deliberately open-ended (allowing you to use any number of interpretive strategies), do not forget its role as the penultimate (next to last) assignment in our course. Your work should engage, on some level, the full range of our materials from the first twelve weeks of the course (your class notes, reading notes, abstracts, and even quizzes will be useful as you proceed). If you take the assignment seriously, it will give you a solid foundation—and significant momentum—for the last “month” of the course.

[c] Painted Totem RF
Review Essay  
A good way to approach the assignment is to write a “review essay.” This is precisely why I have assigned the New York Review of Books throughout the term. As you have surely noted by now, a good review essay has a two-pronged approach. It is, on the one hand, a “review” of the books (not unlike an “embedded book report” in a larger and much more sophisticated essay). Imagine that your ten-page essay, then, contains an “embedded set of reviews totaling about four pages—maybe five. In the “rest” of the essay you should show how the themes in the ethnographies can be seen in the wider perspective of social and cultural theory. In other words, how might the essays and lectures we have read in Anthropology and Theory and A History of Anthropology connect to the specific issues in the ethnographies you have read?

Additional Notes 
This assignment asks you to engage your two ethnographies and to review all of the work you have done thus far in the course. It does not require you to do “research,” and substantial outside work will almost certainly be counter-productive. For example, spending two or three pages on the political history of the Philippines will be far less productive than spending those pages examining the arguments made by Renato and Michelle Rosaldo (or Edward Scheiffelin and Steven Feld). Background information is occasionally useful (and you may have some from previous reading or coursework), but do not make the mistake of providing so much “background” that you don’t deal fully with the assignment itself. Plot out some of the themes and take notes to make sure you have dealt with the full range of possibilities in the materials. Your skills in spotting themes in the Moore, Bourdieu, and Eriksen books will pay off a great deal in this assignment, as will the general contextual and theoretical knowledge you have gained in our discussion.
—This assignment is meant to “tie together” much of the work you have done this semester.  Just as you must do on weekly quizzes, be sure to use the full range of your “sources” in your interpretations—classroom analyses, Moore, and Moberg (for context). As you know, the theoretical essays in Moore and the arguments in Bourdieu’s books lie at the heart of the class, and I would like to see connections to them in your essays. 

—Don’t forget that I will be evaluating this assignment with the assumption that you are trying to explain these matters to “intelligent non-specialists.” That means that I do not want you to “skip” those portions that you know I know. I want you to explain them. I want you to be the expert who is explaining these matters to someone who does not know much about cultural anthropology, but is certainly able to follow a complex argument. Imagine, for example, that you are writing for your FYI professor…and I will be looking over her shoulder.

—Follow standard Chicago Manual of Style citation form, and use the style sheet as you proceed. 


—There should be a short bibliography of sources (class books and any outside materials that you happen to have consulted) at the end of your document. 

—Be sure that you fill out a “paper checklist” and attach it to your essay.

—Good luck.  There is more than enough material to write any number of essays. Choose several good points, scenes, or themes. Then write one.

Due by 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22 in my office (hard copy)—MI 111

Use the word count feature of your software and put the word total at the bottom of the essay, e.g. “3,262 words.”

[e] One RF

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