The undergraduate program in anthropology is designed to give all concentrators a rounded and common understanding of anthropological theory and method, as well as the opportunity to sample a range of special topics. The program is designed to serve both students who are considering graduate work in anthropology and those who are seeking an interesting and flexible major to anchor their Princeton education.
The Department requires all majors to take three core courses. They include one course that surveys the field as a whole (ANT 201), offered in the fall semester, which can be taken either before or during the junior year. Additionally, all junior majors take one course on ethnographic field methods (ANT 301) and one on the history of anthropological theory (ANT 390). Anthropology 301 gives students analytical training and practical experience with the nitty-gritty of anthropological fieldwork, providing them with the preparation they might need should they choose to base their independent work on original field research. Anthropology 390 situates anthropological ideas about cultural meaning and change in the context of an intensive introduction to social theory generally. Students are welcome to take any of these three core courses prior to their junior year, if they like; the department particularly encourages students to do so if they are considering studying abroad during part (or all) of their junior year.
A total of eight courses (including the three core courses) are required for an Anthropology Department concentration, and must be taken at Princeton unless the student studies abroad: these are students' departmentals . In order for a departmental course to count towards the major, a student needs to achieve a grade of C or better. Up to two of these departmentals may be "cognates" chosen from the offerings of other departments, as long as they are judged relevant to the student's Independent Work research by the Departmental Representative. That is, the Anthropology Department will not necessarily treat any anthro-like course taught elsewhere in the University as a cognate : we expect our students to get their anthropology here within the Department.
Instead, our policy on cognates is designed to enable our students to follow their interests in the most flexible way. Consequently, our main criterion for counting a non-anthropology course as a cognate departmental is that it complements the subject matter of a student's JP or Thesis. So, while one student may use religion or visual arts courses, another might find relevant courses in history, East Asian studies, or ecology and evolutionary biology. This approach allows maximum flexibility for students to customize their program to fit their own needs. It also facilitates scheduling for those students who are seeking certificates in one of Princeton's various programs (African-American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Visual Arts, area studies, etc.).
Some anthropology majors have chosen to spend the summer before their senior year, or one of the junior year semesters, away from Princeton doing field research. While fieldwork is certainly not required of all majors, it is a unique experience and a refreshing change from the laboratory or library research more commonly part of college work. The Anthropology Department welcomes and encourages students to develop field projects or plans for study abroad. Students should consult the Dean of the College staff (currently Dean Nancy Kanach) for details and information about funding.
At the mandatory September majors' meeting, the Departmental Representative (anthropology professor in charge of the undergraduate program, a.k.a. the Dep. Rep. ) will distribute senior thesis adviser assignments and solicit information from all juniors so as to assign everyone an adviser. Students usually have a different adviser for their junior and their senior work: it's generally a good idea to get to know more than one professor well in this way. Occasionally, students may switch advisers, in consultation with the Departmental Representative, between the first and second semesters of their junior year. While the Departmental Representative will send reminders to students and faculty from time to time over the school year, it is the responsibility of each student to maintain regular contact with his or her adviser. Students are particularly encouraged to make an appointment with their advisers (or any other anthropology professor) when they are having trouble with their research or writing! We are available and want to help our students to do their best work.
Independent Work in General
All Princeton University juniors and seniors do independent research projects ( Independent Work ). In anthropology, this may (but does not have to) involve field research, as well as library and archival research. Anthropology Department concentrators write one Junior Paper (JP) and a Senior Thesis; as with departmental courses, students need to earn a grade of C or better for this work to count towards the major. Specific due dates for juniors and for seniors are distributed in a handout during the annual September majors' meeting.
Believe it or not, the main point about Independent Work is not length! JPs and Theses are opportunities to develop students' individual interests in depth outside the topical constraints of course offerings, while at the same time reflecting what they have learned about the anthropological approach . Nevertheless, students always wonder how many pages these projects demand, so: JPs are somewhat longer than a final course paper. Whereas anthropology course papers may be between 10-20 double-spaced pages long (depending on other course work), JPs are expected to be between 25-40 pages long (including footnotes, bibliography, etc.): approximately the length of a published journal article. Anthropology Theses are usually multi-part (multi-chapter) projects. While length varies greatly, a typical thesis might be between 80-120 double-spaced pages long (including footnotes, bibliography, illustrations, tables, etc.) and have four or five main chapters.
Students should consult anthropology journals (like American Anthropologist or American Ethnologist) for guides to the proper style of footnotes, citations and bibliographies. Notice that the citation of sources is not usually placed in footnotes in anthropological journal articles, but rather placed parenthetically in the text itself; footnotes are reserved for clarifications and other asides .
For specific guidelines, students should refer to the American Anthropologist Association (AAA) Style Guide. For ease of compiling in-text citations and bibliographic references, students with Endnote software (standard on any laptop computer purchased through Princeton University) can simply build in the AAA's style guidelines into their computers.
Independent Work for Juniors
Juniors in the department write one Junior Paper in consultation with a faculty adviser. A proposal is due in January and a first draft is due in early March, with the final draft due in mid-April. Fall-term junior Independent Work involves independent library research in September and October, regular consultation with an adviser beginning in early November, and readings aimed at developing a research proposal and an annotated bibliography (due in early January before the end of the Fall Term). This system gives students a chance to explore their interests with faculty guidance: many anthropology majors are unsure about topics in the fall of their junior year, and need the time to make mistakes and investigate several interesting possibilities before settling in on one. By the end of the fall, we expect all juniors to have a well-developed idea and a good headway on their reading and understanding.
The topical foci are extremely variable and should reflect each student's real interests. Nevertheless, Junior Papers in particular are meant to be a vehicle for each student to pull together their developing sense of what makes an analysis anthropological. Therefore, juniors are especially encouraged to review and re-use sources and ideas they have learned in their core anthropology courses, as well as any other anthropology courses they have had occasion to take, in developing their papers (all properly cited, of course). While JP topics are completely open to individual student interests—and may even concern phenomena about which professional anthropologists have not already written—juniors need to find some significant set of anthropological sources as an analytical context for making sense of their topics. Advisors can help make these connections.
Independent Work for Seniors
Seniors are each assigned an advisor with whom they ought to consult regularly all year. Additionally, all Princeton University Theses have two readers/graders: the first reader is the thesis advisor, a faculty member in the Anthropology Department; second readers may be selected from within or outside the Anthropology Department. The Department particularly encourages students who are earning certificates in Programs to seek their second reader from their Program. Students are welcome to consult any faculty member (within or outside anthropology) in developing their research.
The Department has a recommended schedule for completing the thesis, but also understands that the exigencies of different research projects requires some flexibility from advisors. Generally, seniors aim to complete one or two chapters by the fall term Dean's Date, submitting working outlines and bibliographies to their advisors over the fall semester. Theses have focused on a wide variety of subjects and have been based on both library and field research. Some theses have also included creative or non-written components: e.g., a theatre production, dance performance, photography exhibit, or video. Recent theses have included studies of social change and development (in Brazil, France, Nepal), the cultural ecology of salmon in the American northwest, Japanese and American business cultures, the symbolic and political dimensions of the American feminist spirituality movement, Mexican-American family history, literary and historical interpretations of Japanese gender symbolism, urban AIDS clinics, the history and recognition of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indian tribe, child abuse, the relation between fiction and anthropological writing, black theater in New York City, a Pentecostal church in New Jersey, North African immigrants in France, and a comparison of primary education in China and the US.
Past Anthropology Department Theses can be found on the shelves in the Anthropology Department: students are welcome to come in and take a look. Some theses titles from previous years are also online.
Writing is Hard Work!
Despite all the resources available before the junior year, many juniors and seniors will experience difficulties writing research papers both in their courses and in their Independent Work. Anthropology students are encouraged to consult their advisors honestly (and early!) about this. All students are encouraged to make use of Princeton's Writing Center. For additional support, seniors have the Senior Thesis Writing Group, typically led by an advanced graduate student at the dissertation-writing stage of the Ph.D. program in anthropology. Resist the impulse to treat writing as if it were a solitary struggle: sharing your work with your friends, mutually offering suggestions and support can really make a difference.
Senior Theses, in particular, present a special challenge since students have not generally written a multi-chapter work before. For example, even when they are the same lengths, chapters and papers are not the same. Chapters are each explicitly incomplete parts of a larger argument, whereas papers need to stand alone . Thesis writers need to think about how each part of a larger argument relates to the others, and to make this relatively explicit in their writing.
In addition to campus resources, good advice for writers is available through the Internet. While this information needs to be evaluated critically, we have found a few useful sites. For example, the journal Current Anthropology (Vol. 37, No 3, June 1996, page 561) contained information in an article written by Brian Schwimmer.
The Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University has posted writing information in Guidelines for Writing Essays and Research Papers. While not everything in this article is relevant to anthropology majors, much of it is extremely useful and sensible. It is about 15 pages long, so scroll through the document. The Department welcomes students' suggestions about other resources.
Special Note on Ethics
Ethical standards relating to scholarship (plagiarism, proper use and citation of conventional and Internet sources, and special ethical guidelines relevant to human subjects research) will be enforced on all Anthropology Department work. Students intending to do field research ( participant observation , interviewing, etc.) during the school year or during the summer—whether on or off campus—should consult the Dept. Rep. about this, and should take ANT 301 before doing the research.
All students should read the University handbook, Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, guidelines about scholarly ethics carefully: this is your responsibility. If you have any questions about particular situations, please consult your advisor and/or the Departmental Representative.
With regard to JPs and Theses, be aware that if you anticipate any significant overlap between course papers and these independent research papers, you need to consult both your advisor and the Dept. Rep. about it. While the Department encourages students to think across courses —to use what they have learned in their courses—in developing their independent work, that generally means revisiting readings and ideas gleaned in course contexts (with proper citations). It does not mean re-using the papers (the writing) they have already been graded on in a course (and conversely, it does not mean submitting independent work writing for a course grade). There are times when a particularly elaborate, detailed and long piece of work may be submitted more than once, in two different contexts (e.g., a course and a Thesis chapter). N.B. According to University rules, this situation needs to be approved in advance, and in writing, by both the course professor and the independent work advisor.