Starr lectureships

The Starr Lectureships are named after Frederick Starr, the first anthropologist to teach at the University of Chicago and a figure much beloved by undergraduates.

Starr Lectureships are restricted to advanced graduate students (those formally admitted to candidacy and who have returned from the field and/or completed the research for the dissertation). Starr Lecturers offer 200-level courses of their own design in the Anthropology Undergraduate Program. Each year six Star Lecturers are appointed to teach courses that can serve as an introduction to some aspect of Anthropology and will be appropriate for undergraduates beginning their study of the discipline. Starr Lectureship courses usually enroll 20-25 students, most of whom will have already taken the Social Science Core course, so they should have some exposure to classic approaches in the Social Sciences. While the Starr courses are usually derived from areas and topics the Lecturer's dissertation, an effort should be made to generalize beyond particularistic ethnographic or archaeological descriptions to illustrate broader anthropological theories, themes and principles. Preference will be given to proposals that include discussion/presentation of the methods that you used in your research. Each year one Starr Position is allocated for ANTH 21420: Ethnographic Methods; additionally courses that fit under the broad rubric of "Reading Ethnographies" are particularly welcome.

Although the following specific subheadings are no longer in use, the descriptions provide a useful guide to the types of courses sought from the Starr Lecturers

Classical Readings in Anthropology is intended for courses in which the history of an anthropological topic or subfield, e.g.. archeological theory, language and culture, human biological evolution, religion, political systems, kinship, concepts of culture, are examined via landmark publications and critiques that span a notable period in the development of the field. Examples from the past: The Culture History of Culture History; The Primitive Mind and Its Convolutions.
Nota Bene: The selection committee is especially keen to have at least one course per year, wherein students learn to read a wide array of classic model ethnographies, which will prepare them for our annual course on Ethnographic Methods.

Intensive Study of a Culture comprise courses in which the instructor presents her or his recent research to exemplify how one chooses a topic and sample of informants in order to understand their society, beliefs and behavior, the methods used, problems that arose between one’s proposal and actually implementing the study, results, significance, and relation to relevant work of other researchers. In addition to foci on a specific village, neighborhood, or other restricted locality, one might also focus on a more extended geographic sub-region, e.g. Northern Spain, or an archaeological or linguistic site.

Modern Readings in Anthropology consider published accounts and discussions of contemporary theories being developed, tested, and critiqued by currently active ethnographers and other social scientists, humanists and natural scientists. The subject might best be topically, e.g. Readings in Economic Anthropology: Readings in Ethnomusicology. Anthropology of Labor. Anthropology of Democracy.

The Practice of Anthropology comprises courses focused on the work of a one or a few theorists, ethnographers, or practitioners in a restricted realm of anthropological study. Included are courses on “the experience of anthropology,” utilizing personal recollections of fieldwork, e.g., Tristes Tropiques; Malinowski’s diaries; more recent studies involving personal and ethical dilemmas in anthropological research.

Reading Ethnographies address what ethnography is and what it does by way of excellent examples. Unlike Intensive Study of a Culture, the ethnographies are not required or expected to address one place or group of people. Unlike Classical Readings or Modern Readings, they need not serve as an introduction to a particular theoretical literature and its development. The goal is instead a branch of the curriculum that looks at ethnography as well as through it toward theoretical issues and particular cultures and histories. Themes for courses can vary, from tightly focused examinations of particular kinds of ethnographic method or ethnographic problem, e.g., The Use and Abuse of Reflexivity, or, Locating the Global, or they could have a broader purpose that gathers ethnographies from widely different schools and times, e.g., Depicting Poverty, or, City and Country. Both research methods and writing genre should be considered, in courses that give students a chance to explore what has made ethnography a powerful mode of research.

How to apply

A completed Starr Lectureship application includes the following -- Basically your syllabus + CV:

  • Title of your course - concise enough so that someone looking at the Time Schedule or a Student Transcript will understand the topic of the course (The Registrar's maximum is 62 characters/spaces in a title -- but that's already probably too long.
    • Indication of which quarter you would prefer to teach — or whether you are “open” to any quarter.
  • A one-paragraph course description. 1/3 page single spaced/roughly  200 words maximum.
  • A detailed Course Outline/Syllabus broken down into topics, assigned and suggested readings, course requirements (e.g., written and oral reports, term papers, mode of examination, etc).
  • Criteria for Course Grade (included in the syllabus)
  • An up-dated copy of your CV including a list of your faculty committee members

You are strongly encouraged to consult both with your faculty advisors and with the members of the Undergraduate Committee when designing your courses. (The Department also has a collection of syllabi from recently offered Starr Lectureship courses as well as faculty-taught 200-level courses available for examination.) A faculty selection committee will evaluate the proposals. They will be judged on their general merits, potential appeal, and the needs of the Program and its students. Many proposals fail because they are too specialized, too narrow, too demanding, and indicate unawareness that the audience will be students who are perhaps taking a first anthropology course. Exclusive of research papers, students can be expected to read and comprehend about 1000 pages during a nine-and-one-half week quarter. Think seriously about what you expect a student to gain from the course and how that knowledge will contribute to his/her general understanding of anthropology. The courses usually are designed to promote student discussion and critical thinking, and the College has always encouraged innovative teaching.

You are welcome to request feedback on your proposal from the Selection Committee. Many proposals that fail on initial submission succeed in subsequent competitions after revision.

Due Date: Early to Mid-Winter Quarter