HISTORIES OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL THEORY AND PRACTICE
Seminar meetings: Winter 2013 M/W 4:30-6:20
Savery Hall 359
Instructor: Professor Alison Wylie
Office hours: Tuesays 1:30-3:30
SAV M396 / 543-5873 / firstname.lastname@example.org
has not been much studied by professional historians of science, but
archaeologists have been prodigious historians of their own field, and
they have put histories of various kinds to work in a number of quite
different ways. In this seminar we will explore the variety of internal
histories that are in play, identifying several distinct genres of
history-making ranging from the kinds of sweeping histories of
disciplinary formation that can be useful in helping you get your
bearings within established research traditions, through
program-defining histories that have legitimated one after another “new
archaeology,” as well as a range of critical counter-histories that
call into question pivotal ideas and forms of practice that became
entrenched as archaeology professionalized. We will consider, as well,
examples of histories that play a
direct role in archaeological research, for example, recontextualizing
well understood evidence in ways that bring into view new interpretive
possibilities. The goal of this course is to cultivate an historically
grounded understanding of archaeological theory and to explore the
possibilities for putting this understanding to work in contexts of
research design and research practice.
The anchoring texts for this seminar are Trigger’s History of Archaeological Thought (2006), which provides a broad comparative framework within which to situate diverse national traditions of archaeological practice, and Patterson’s social histories of anthropology and of archaeology (2006 and 1996), which explore the conditions that have shaped successive “new archaeologies” and their rivals. We will also discuss selections from more specialized histories of research on particular problems, like Grayson’s Establishment of Human Antiquity (1983) and Rowley-Conwy’s Origins of the Three Age System (2007); studies of influential figures and key sites or objects of inquiry, as examined by Gere in Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism (2009), by Sommer in Bones and Ochre (2007), and by Hingley in Hadrian’s Wall, A Life (2012); and critical histories that underpin demands for equity and social justice in archaeology of the kind developed by Thomas in Skull Wars (2000), Watkins in Indigenous Archaeology (2000) and by contributors to Grit Tempered: Early Women Archaeologists in the Southeastern United States (1999).
This course will be run
as a seminar, with the emphasis on
discussion informed by weekly reading responses. Members of the seminar
will lead discussion in at least one class each week. Graded
assignments include weekly reading responses, seminar participation and
presentations, and a research paper on the history of a particular
debate or concept, research community, program or technique. See the
syllabus for details. You'll also find the requirements, and a
presentation/reading response schedule posted in the course DropBox and
- Bruce Trigger. A History of Archaeological Thought. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- Thomas Patterson. A Social History of Anthropology. Berg, 2006.
- Thomas Patterson. Toward a Social History of Archaeology in the United States. Harcourt Brace, 1995.
For an outline of weekly readings
and details of the requirements
SEE THE SYLLABUS.