Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism

Franz Boas and his World [B]

Professor Regna Darnell

This course examines the writings and professional correspondence of Franz Boas, the founder of Americanist anthropology and a seminal figure in many other disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. Western is the home of the Franz Boas Papers Documentary Edition, and these materials will help students to better understand both Boas's place in the intellectual tradition, but also to develop skills related to the production of a scholarly edition. Boas' work is complex and requires recontextualization to make sense to contemporary readers: German philosophy, the 848 revolutions in Europe, Boas’ educational background, human biology from anthropometry to plasticity, the emergence of professional anthropology and linguistics in museums and universities, early professional anthropology in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Jewish intellectual culture in New York city, anti‐war activism and European emigres, applied anthropology in the interwar years, culture and personality, training of minority students, environmental studies; linguistic texts in Native American languages, Pacific Coast ethnography, and Inuit ethnography are among the topics that we might look to in our efforts to place Boas's work.The course will explore various of these themes in relation to the role of biography in (public) history and the annotational needs of a documentary edition. Student projects will contribute to the background research for the scholarly annotation of this projected 25‐volume series of Boas's work and will be so acknowledged in the appropriate edition.


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