Anth 310 - Classical Anthropological Theory


SUNY College at Geneseo

Fall Semester 2014


Instructor: Dr. Paul J. Pacheco
Office: 153A Bailey Hall
Phone:  245-5275
Office Hours: M 1:30-3:30 P.M.; T 9:00-12:00 A.M.; or by appointment

e-mail address:

webpage: (Anth 310)


Description and Objectives:


      This course is an intensive investigation of the classical development of anthropological theory, beginning with the disciplines nineteenth century roots, and tracking changes in theoretical perspectives through the mid-twentieth century.  The course is one of two required senior level theory courses for anthropology majors and is designed to provide a strong theoretical background that is well-grounded in the history of the discipline and to promote critical thinking skills relative to the historical issues of anthropological significance.


Learning Outcomes:


1) Students will become familiar with the major theoretical orientations of classical anthropology and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.  This skill will be assessed through the writing/discussing of daily questions designed to allow students to explore critically the arguments of anthropology’s classical thinkers in the context of their original writings.


2)  Students will develop critical thinking skills relative to the development and history of anthropological ideas (which will, furthermore, help to define the place of anthropology within the social sciences).  These thinking skills will be developed and assessed each class day through intensive discussion sessions based around the Socratic Method. 


3)    Students will learn to identify and critique theoretical arguments in anthropology

from a variety of  different perspectives.  This skill will allow them to evaluate and

deconstruct the approaches and arguments that they encounter as students of

anthropology.  This skill will be assessed through the writing of the midterm and

comprehensive final essay exams. 




            “SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities.  Accommodations will also be made for medical conditions related to pregnancy or parenting.  Students should contact Dean Buggie-Hunt in the Office of Disability Services ( or 585-245-5112) and their faculty to discuss needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester.”



Required reading*:


Barret, Stanley 

2010   Anthropology: A Student’s Guide to Theory and Method (Second Edition).  University of

Toronto Press    ISBN# 978-08-020-96128


McGee, R. Jon  and  Richard L. Warms

2011  Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History (Fifth Edition).  Mayfield Publishing Company   ISBN # 978-0-07-803488-6


* Any assigned articles that are not in your textbook will be made available on the webpage under the Course Materials tab.  These will be pdf files and they will be located in a folder marked Anth 310 Readings.


Class Requirements:


        There will be two exams in this course; an in-class essay midterm, and an in-class essay final.   Exams explore your understanding of the course content and your ability to synthesize, critically examine, and express clearly your understanding in writing.    


        The remainder of the course grade will come from your class participation, which is to be measured by your contributions to daily class discussions and your responses to the questions assigned for each day of class.  Reading questions will be placed in a folder marked Anth 310 Reading Questions located under the Course Materials tab on the mycourses webpage. These questions will guide our class discussions and help to maintain the intellectual rigor of the course. Your answers should be concise but thoughtful. A goal of about a full paragraph apiece works well.   Emphasize quality over quantity and take to heart that understanding theory is a process of inquiry in which the positions you take must be supported by solid, clear arguments.   You are expected to come to each class with typed and edited responses for the day’s assignment (creating a compiled study guide of 25 sets of answers for the Final).


            On five unannounced days during the semester, your responses will be collected and graded directly.  If you do not have your assignment to turn in during class, you will get credit for coming to class, but otherwise no late answers will be accepted.  On all other days, answers will not be collected and your class participation in the discussion, exhibiting your preparation for class, will be used to determine points for that day.   Punctuality is essential. You will have 2 points minimum deducted from your daily class participation score if you arrive late for class because of the disruption that it causes.  Other possible causes for deductions in your daily participation grade include phone texting during class, using laptops for non-class activities, falling asleep or daydreaming, working on other classes, clear signals that you are unprepared for class that day, and refusing or failing to try to answer questions asked of you.   If you will miss a class day for any reason (the reason for which need not be disclosed), your answers are due to me no later than 9:30 A.M. the day you will miss class.  Besides hard copies placed in my hands or my department mailbox, you may e-mail your answers to me as Word files (requires a .doc or .docx file extension).  No late answers will be accepted.  Staying up with the reading assignments, participation, and critical thinking are the keys to class success. 



Course Grades:  


Daily Class Participation/Responses                         140 points (20 x 7)


Collected Responses                                       100 points (5 x 20)


Midterm  (10/8)                                              100 points


Final    (12/12 8:00-11:00 A.M.)                    160 points 


Grades will be assigned on a percentage basis out of 500 possible as follows. 


A  = 93% +                                         C+ = 79.99 – 77%

A- = 90 - 92.99%                                C   =  76.99 – 73%

B+ = 89.99 – 87%                              C - = 72.99 – 70%

B   = 86.99 – 83 %                              D = 69.99 – 60%

B-  = 82.99 – 80 %                             E = 59.99 –0%



Class Schedule                                                                                 Reading:


8/25    Introduction & Welcome                                                                 -


8/27    Historical Overview of Anthropology                                  Barret Ch. 1


9/1       Labor Day – No Class                                                                                 -


9/3       Building the Discipline: Theory & Method                        Barret Ch. 2 & 3


9/8       Patching the Foundation: Theory & Method                      Barret Ch. 4 & 5


9/10     Progressive Evolution: H. Spencer                                         M&W Ch. 1


9/15     Tylor                                                                                       M&W Ch. 2


9/17     Morgan                                                                                   M&W Ch. 3


9/22     Marx and Engels                                                                     M&W Ch. 4


9/24      Natural Selection:  Darwin & Wallace, Gopnick                    pdf articles


9/29     Rindos “Darwinism and Culture”                                          pdf article


10/1     Braun  “… Cross Cultural Regularities …”                            pdf article


10/6     Midterm Review & Dunnell “Natural Selection, Scale …”    pdf article                                                       

10/8    MIDTERM EXAM                                                                      -


10/13    Fall Break – No Class                                                                     -


10/15   Historical Particularism: Boas                                                M&W Ch. 8                           


10/20    Whorf                                                                                     M&W Ch. 10


10/22    Lewis “Boas, Darwinism, …”                                               pdf article


10/27   Kroeber “… Changes of Fashion …” and Radin                  pdf articles


10/29   Structural Functionalism: Durkheim                           pdf article & M&W Ch. 5


11/3     Mauss                                                                                     M&W Ch. 6


11/5     Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown                                          M&W Ch. 11 & 12


11/10   Pritchard “The Nuer …” and Gluckman                                pdf article; M&W Ch. 13


11/12   Benedict and Mead                                                                 M&W Ch. 14 & 15


11/17    Neoevolutionism: White                                                        M&W Ch. 16


11/19   Steward “Multilinear Evolution …”                                      pdf article


11/24   C. Spencer  “…Tempo and Mode …”                                   pdf article


11/26   No Class – Thanksgiving Break                                                  -


12/1     Harris                                                                                      M&W Ch. 19


12/3    Rappaport & Wolf                                                                  M&W Ch. 20 & 21


12/8    Overview of Class                                                                               -


12/12    FINAL                                                                                    8:00-11:00 A.M.