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Rhetoric in American Anthropology

Rhetoric in American Anthropology: Gender, Genre, and Science

Risa Applegarth
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Rhetoric in American Anthropology
    Book Description:

    In the early twentieth century, the field of anthropology transformed itself from the "welcoming science," uniquely open to women, people of color, and amateurs, into a professional science of culture. The new field grew in rigor and prestige but excluded practitioners and methods that no longer fit a narrow standard of scientific legitimacy. InRhetoric in American Anthropology, Risa Applegarth traces the "rhetorical archeology" of this transformation in the writings of early women anthropologists. Applegarth examines the crucial role of ethnographic genres in determining scientific status and recovers the work of marginalized anthropologists who developed alternative forms of scientific writing.Applegarth analyzes scores of ethnographic monographs to demonstrate how early anthropologists intensified the constraints of genre to define their community and limit the aims and methods of their science. But in the 1920s and 1930s, professional researchers sidelined by the academy persisted in challenging the field's boundaries, developing unique rhetorical practices and experimenting with alternative genres that in turn greatly expanded the epistemology of the field. Applegarth demonstrates how these writers' folklore collections, ethnographic novels, and autobiographies of fieldwork experiences reopened debates over how scientific knowledge was made: through what human relationships, by what bodies, and for what ends. Linking early anthropologists' ethnographic strategies to contemporary theories of rhetoric and composition,Rhetoric in American Anthropologyprovides a fascinating account of the emergence of a new discipline and reveals powerful intersections among gender, genre, and science.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7947-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction Gender, Genre, and Knowledge in the Welcoming Science
    (pp. 1-24)

    WITH ITS reputation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as a “welcoming science,” anthropology attracted a disproportionate number of women and Native American researchers into its ranks.¹ Margaret Mead, the most famous anthropologist of the twentieth century, suggested in 1960 that it was anthropology’s status as a “new science” that made her discipline more welcoming to women and minority groups than other sciences.²

    Not only its newness but also its research methods contributed to anthropology’s relative openness to women and people of color; founded upon firsthand observation as the key mechanism for creating knowledge, and committed to constructing...

  5. 1 Ethnographic Monographs Genre Change and Rhetorical Scarcity
    (pp. 25-56)

    ADDRESSING THE Anthropological Society of Washington (ASW) in 1882, Otis T. Mason outlined “the extent and boundaries” of the newly formed discipline of anthropology, boundaries that delimited potential practitioners in only the loosest terms. Anyone could be an anthropologist, Mason suggested, who had the capacity for patient observation and careful record keeping. While maintaining that “the anthropologist prosecute[s] his work … by the most vigorous and exacting methods,” Mason also assured the all-male membership of the first anthropological society that theirs was “a science in which there is no priesthood and laity, no sacred language; but one in which you...

  6. 2 Field Autobiographies Rhetorical Recruitment and Embodied Ethnography
    (pp. 57-94)

    AS ANTHROPOLOGY professionalized during the early decades of the twentieth century, the women who pursued careers in “the welcoming science” entered into an arena of contradiction. Against the backdrop of the significant changes in anthropologists’ rhetorical practices discussed in chapter 1, many women practitioners found themselves renegotiating their status relative to new disciplinary hierarchies. Whereas the amateur members of the Women’s Anthropological Society had been able, in the 1880s, to justify their papers as “real contributions to knowledge” simply by recording firsthand observations gained from their leisure and travel experiences, the professional anthropological community of the 1920s and 1930s demanded...

  7. 3 Folklore Collections Professional Positions and Situated Representations
    (pp. 95-135)

    THESE REFLECTIONS on folklore from Ella Cara Deloria, the Yankton Nakota writer and anthropologist, and Zora Neale Hurston, the African-American novelist, playwright, and folklorist, highlight the contradictions inherent in the position of being a “native ethnographer,” one who studies as an anthropologist the practices of her home community. As Deloria insists in her letter to her mentor, Columbia Professor of Anthropology Franz Boas, her relation to her informants as an insider—more specifically, as someone embedded within a kinship system that draws all the members of her community into relation—provides her with ready access to cultural information. But eliciting...

  8. 4 Ethnographic Novels Educational Critiques and Rhetorical Trajectories
    (pp. 136-174)

    INTRODUCINGAMERICAN Indian Life,the experimental collection of ethnographic fiction she edited in 1922, Elsie Clews Parsons bemoans the wide gap between anthropological writing, which primarily took the form of “forbidding monographs,” and the kinds of “legends” about Indians that public audiences primarily consumed. Despite anthropology’s growth as a discipline over the first decades of the twentieth century, Parsons writes, her professional colleagues had not yet extended their scientific expertise into texts aimed at popular consumption. This was an oversight that anthropologists needed to correct, Parsons suggests, for anthropologists’ failure to get factual, accurate information into the hands of readers...

  9. Conclusion Rhetorical Archaeology
    (pp. 175-186)

    IN HER investigation of narrative in the knowledge-making practices of the field of psychiatry, Carol Berkenkotter’s portrayal of genres as “pottery shards, bones, and rock strata” evokes a provocative image of historical genre study. I take up this metaphor of genres as artifacts—specifically, artifacts that are incomplete, foundational, and sequenced—to develop here a vision of historical genre study as a practice ofrhetorical archaeology. This research practice understands genres as material instantiations of a community’s norms, values, and priorities and investigates genre change to unearth and envision the prior life of a community. Like pottery shards, genres are...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 187-228)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-256)
  12. Index
    (pp. 257-267)