Aesthetic Realism and Anthropology
Fall Semester, 2005
Conducted by: Arnold Perey
Class is given from 6:00 - 7:30 PM on Alternate Wednesdays
The Aesthetic Structure of Society
Text: “Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?” by Eli Siegel
Are the greatest anthropological studies based on aesthetics—the oneness of opposites? This semester we shall look at the question.
1. September 21 The Cheyennes: Restraint and Abandon
The Cheyennes, Indians of the Great Plains by E. Adamson Hoebel. Are these two opposites turbulently in people everywhere, and do they also make for beauty?
2. October 5 The Nuer: Resistant and Yielding—Like You and Me
E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s classic The Nuer (East Africa) tells of personal opposites that no society can exist without.
3. October 22 SATURDAY Self and World on a Polynesian Island
We meet with The Visual Arts and the Opposites class taught by Marcia Rackow
at 11 AM at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see the show “Adorning the World.” The opposites of self and world are in every society and every life. They make for both conflict and beauty.
4. November 2 The !Kung of the Kalahari Desert
Richard B. Lee’s study of these hunters tells of junction and separation in a dramatic, severe, and beautiful environment. Do any people exist without togetherness and separation in their lives? What is the meaning of this?
5. November 16 Impelled by the Lure of Romance in New Guinea
A society is like a body that needs emotion to drive it, said Bronislaw Malinowski in his classic of functionalism, Argonauts of the Western Pacific. Are Animate and inanimate two opposites always basic to society and to ourselves?
6. November 30 Middletown: The Urgency of For and Against
Middletown by Robert and Helen Lynd (1929) is a classic study of an American city. Is America and every person in it for and against?
7. December 14 Your Neighborhood
Students speak on an instance of anthropology. Are self and world, for and against, or junction and separation in your neighborhood? Choose one pair of opposites and see.