Entries tagged with “self study

Engaging in self-study is a very stumbly process.  I’m grabbing at the corners of tables and squishing my fingers into the edges of seat cushions.  And I wish I didn’t know about falling down.

Reading an Annual Review article once a week is still a little difficult for me, but I continue to believe that it’s a good plan for surveying the field.  I’m getting a better feel for where my interests lie.  Here are the next five articles I plan to read:

Conversation Analysis
Charles Goodwin and John Heritage

Advances in Evolutionary Culture Theory
Cultural-Social Anthropology
William H. Durham

Groups that Don’t Want In:  Gypsies and Other Artisan, Trader, and Entertainer Minorities
Cultural-Social Anthropology
Sharon Bohn Gmelch

Philosophy of Science in Anthropology
Cultural-Social Anthropology
Abraham Kaplan

Professional Responsibility in Public Archaeology
Thomas F. King

So, I’m “officially” started on my year of self-study. As discussed in a previous post, my core plan consists of reading a review article from the Annual Review of Anthropology each week and writing something about the experience. I have various textbooks for general reference, a few other books, the Internet and the public library. I don’t feel ready or prepared or organized, but here I go. I’ve picked Mondays as the due date for writing a first response to the current article I am reading. I may blog about the article several days during that week or just on Monday.

The Annual Review of Anthropology lists reviews under five main headings: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, regional anthropology and cultural/social anthropology. I won’t try to choose evenly between those topics, but I will read some in all. I’ve chosen my first five reviews to read:

Death:  A Cross-Cultural Perspective
Cultural-Social Anthropology
Phyllis Palgi and Henry Abramovitch

Language and Disputing
D. Brenneis

Hominid Paleoneurology
Biological Anthropology
Dean Falk

The Archaeology of Equality and Inequality
Robert Paynter

India:  Caste, Kingship, and Dominance Reconsidered
Regional Anthropology
Gloria Goodwin Ratheja

I chose to read “Death: A Cross-Cultural Perspective” first as someone special to me died suddenly this year. At the time, I found that I had no strong attachment to any particular beliefs about death, and that was a problem. I had decided as a tween that the benefit of rituals and/or spiritual beliefs was not dependent on any connection to truth, so that type of struggle wasn’t an issue. I had just left the matter of death beliefs unresolved. In the short-term I borrowed from the strength of belief of people I respected. I engaged in special prayers and chanting for 49 days in Buddhist fashion. I found it helpful. I’ve started the article. I will write more about it next week.

The ease with which I am able to read is returning quickly. The return of vocabulary is fluid in a way that I didn’t expect.  Yes, I’ve spent more time with the dictionary as of late, but it’s more than that.  When I relax and start writing something in my head, I use vocabulary (correctly) with which I am uncomfortable when I stop to think.  “Wait, is that really the right word?” I ask.  Words pop into my head for which I can’t immediately produce a dictionary definition that turn out to be just the word I was looking for earlier or the day before.  Exposing my conscious mind to information appears to unlock so much more beneath the surface.

Oh the joy that comes with greater awareness of subtlety and subtext.  Just now typing the word “subtlety”,  I had doubts that my spelling was correct.   I’m typing in WordPad with no spellcheck, so no red line appears right after typing a misspelled word.  I think inserting my own question mark as opposed to noticing whether a red line appears provides an extra bit of mental stimulation.  Thinking about spelling as I’m typing encourages alertness.  I checked the spelling using  an online dictionary.  I type in WordPad, then I cut and paste into a program with spellcheck.  I don’t do this for every bit of writing, but I find it helpful when I do.

Ha, ha… just cut an pasted and realized that I had misspelled the word “misspelled.”  I only had one “s.”

I’ve been reading, but I haven’t been sticking to my loosely defined reading list.  Instead I’ve been tumbling around various anthropology blogs and making lists of things to read.  I’ve been perusing Anthropology Blog Newspaper where they list the title of the blog along with the titles of the most recent posts.  In the process I’m developing my own list of anthropology blogs that I would like to read regularly.

I’ve been reading some French.  Well, put more accurately, I’ve been reading some lists of French words.  I studied French in the past and I’ve returned to study in part as an exercise in brain stimulation.  I’ve been enjoying the free audio lessons at Coffee Break French.     A Scotsman teaches French in 20-minute segments.  Each audio lesson has a page for questions and comments.  They have paid learning materials, but I haven’t tried those.  I have my own collection of French grammar books.

Perhaps I should try to come up with some sort of syllabus.   I’ll look around for some guides on self-study.