Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology

By Sally Cole | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Student at Columbia

How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one . . . loved the pilgrim soul in you ... — W. B. Yeats, "When You are Old and Full of Sleep”

" MRS. LANDES meet Mrs. Benedict. Mrs. Benedict, this is Mrs. Landes” was Franz Boas's introduction when, one September day in 1931, he took the new student, 23-year-old Ruth Schlossberg Landes, down the hall to meet Ruth Benedict, who was his "right-hand” (Mead 1959) and was to be Landes's main supervisor. "I never had the courage, ” Ruth Landes later recalled, "to inform him that the marriage was dissolved when I joined his Department. For it was still considered disgraceful when a woman lived unmarried” (n.d., "Ruth Benedict”:4). Although neither woman in fact lived with either Mr. Landes or Mr. Benedict, Boas allowed himself to think of them as financially provided for by husbands, as not requiring secure paid employment, and as pursuing anthropology as a vocation motivated purely by intellectual curiosity. 1 While Boas was incorrect in assuming that the two women were economically protected by husbands, it was true that they were pursuing anthropology not only for career purposes but also as part of their creative efforts to improvise lives as New Women in early-20th-century America. In this project of self- realization that Richard Handler calls a "hallmark of modernism” (1990 : 164), they quickly recognized one another as "pilgrim souls.”

Landes later recalled the moment of meeting Benedict: "Boas had taken me, a bewildered young creature, into her office to explain that he had invited me to study with them. He had in fact invited me a whole year before, when I had ventured to consult him about Negro movements that were bursting out all over the United States,

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Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Ruth Landes - A Life in Anthropology *
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations *
  • Series Editors' Introduction *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • Part One - Beginnings *
  • Chapter One - Immigrant Daughter *
  • Chapter Two - New Woman *
  • Chapter Three - Student at Columbia *
  • Part Two - Apprenticeship in Native American Worlds *
  • Prologue *
  • Chapter Four - Maggie Wilson and Ojibwa Women's Stories *
  • Chapter Five - Lusty Shamans in the Midwest *
  • Part Three - She-Bull in Brazil's China Closet *
  • Prologue *
  • Chapter Six - Fieldwork in Brazil *
  • Chapter Seven - Writing Afro-Brazilian Culture in New York *
  • Chapter Eight - The Early Ethnography of Race and Gender *
  • Conclusion - Life and Career *
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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