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She received her PhD and joined the faculty in Margaret Meadwith whom she shared a romantic relationship,  and Marvin Oplerwere among her students and colleagues. Franz Boas, her teacher and mentorhas been called the father of American anthropology and his teachings and point of view are clearly evident in Benedict’s work.
Benedict held the post of President of the American Anthropological Association and was also a prominent member of the American Folklore Society. She studied the relationships between personality, art, language and culture, insisting that no trait existed in isolation or self-sufficiency, a theory which she championed in her Patterns of Culture.
Fulton loved his work and research, it eventually led to his premature death, as he acquired an unknown disease during one of his surgeries in Fulton was deeply affected by her husband’s passing. Any mention of him caused her to be overwhelmed by grief; every March she cried at church and in bed. For her, the greatest taboos in life were crying in front of people and showing expressions of pain.
As a toddler, she contracted measles which left her partially deafwhich was not discovered until she began school. When she was four years old her grandmother took her to see an infant that had recently died.
Upon seeing the dead child’s face, Ruth claimed that it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. At age seven Ruth began to write short verses and read any book she could get her hands on.
Writing was her outlet, and she wrote with an insightful perception about the realities of life. For example, in her senior year of high school she wrote a piece called, “Lulu’s Wedding A True Story ” in which she recalled the wedding of a family serving girl. Instead of romanticizing the event, she revealed the true, unromantic, arranged marriage that Lulu went through because the man would take her, even though he was much older.
Although Ruth Benedict’s fascination with death started at an early age, she continued to study how death affected people throughout her career. In her book Patterns of CultureBenedict studied the Pueblo culture and how they dealt with grieving and death.
She describes in the book that individuals may deal with reactions to death, such as frustration and grief, differently. Societies all have social norms that they follow; some allow more expression when dealing with death, such as mourning, while other societies are not allowed to acknowledge it.
After high school, Margery her sister and Ruth were able to enter St Margaret’s School for Girlsa college preparatory school, with help from a full-time scholarship. The girls were successful in school and entered Vassar College in September where Ruth thrived in an all-female atmosphere.
Nevertheless, Ruth explored her interests in college and found writing as her way of expressing herself as an “intellectual radical” as she was sometimes called by her classmates.
She graduated with her sister in with a major in English Literature. Accompanied by two girls from California that she’d never met, Katherine Norton and Elizabeth Atsatt, she traveled through FranceSwitzerlandItalyGermanyand England for one year, having the opportunity of various home stays throughout the trip. Over the next few years, Ruth took up many different jobs. First she tried paid social work for the Charity Organization Society and later she accepted a job as a teacher at the Westlake School for Girls in Los AngelesCalifornia.
While working there she gained her interest in Asia that would later affect her choice of fieldwork as a working anthropologist. However, she was unhappy with this job as well and, after one year, left to teach English in Pasadena at the Orton School for Girls. The summer after her first year teaching at the Orton School she returned home to the Shattucks’ farm to spend some time in thought and peace. She had met him by chance in BuffaloNew York around That summer Ruth fell deeply in love with Stanley as he began to visit her more, and accepted his proposal for marriage.
Stanley suffered an injury that made him want to spend more time away from the city, and Benedict was not happy when the couple moved to Bedford Hills far away from the city. In her search for a career, she decided to attend some lectures at the New School for Social Research while looking into the possibility of becoming an educational philosopher. She enjoyed the class and took another anthropology course with Alexander Goldenweisera student of noted anthropologist Franz Boas.
With Goldenweiser as her teacher, Ruth’s love for anthropology steadily grew. Boas gave her graduate credit for the courses that she had completed at the New School for Social Research.
Sapir and Benedict shared an interest in poetry, and read and critiqued each other’s work, both submitting to the same publishers and both being rejected. They also were both interested in psychology and the relation between individual personalities and cultural patterns, and in their correspondences they frequently psychoanalyzed rruth other.
However, Sapir showed little understanding for Espdaa private thoughts and feelings. In particular, his conservative gender ideology jarred with Benedict’s struggle for emancipation. While they were very close friends for a while, it was ultimately the differences in worldview and personality that led their friendship to espafa.
Benedict taught her first anthropology course at Barnard college in and among the students there was Margaret Mead. Benedict was a significant influence on Mead. Boas regarded Benedict as an asset to the anthropology department, and in he appointed her as Assistant Professor in Anthropology, something impossible until her divorce crisantfmo Stanley Benedict that same year. One student who felt especially fond of Ruth Benedict was Ruth Landes. When Boas retired inmost of his students considered Ruth Benedict to be the obvious choice for the head of the anthropology department.
However, the administration of Columbia was not as progressive in its attitude towards female professionals as Boas had been, and the university President Nicholas Murray Butler was eager to curb the influence of the Boasians whom he considered to be political radicals. Instead, Ralph Lintonone of Boas’s former students, a World War I veteran and a fierce critic of Benedict’s “Culture and Personality” approach, was named head of the department.
Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict are eespada to be the two most influential and famous anthropologists of their time. After Benedict died of a heart attack inMead kept the legacy of Benedict’s work going by supervising projects that Benedict would have looked after, and editing and publishing notes from studies that Benedict had collected throughout her life.
These lectures lx focused around the idea of benedixt. Yet, WWII made her focus on other areas of concentration of anthropology and the lectures were never presented in their entirety. Benedict’s Patterns of Culture was translated into fourteen languages and was published in many editions as standard reading for anthropology courses in American universities for years.
The essential idea in Patterns of Culture is, according to the foreword by Margaret Mead, “her view of human cultures as ‘personality writ large. Each culture, she held, chooses from “the great arc of human potentialities” espadz a few characteristics which become the leading personality traits of the persons living in that culture. These traits comprise an beneidct constellation of aesthetics and values in each culture which together add up to a unique gestalt.
For example, she described the emphasis on restraint in Pueblo cultures of the American southwest, and the emphasis on abandon in the Native American cultures of the Great Plains. She used the Nietzschean opposites of “Apollonian” and “Dionysian” as the stimulus for her thought about these Native American cultures. She describes how, in ancient Greece, the worshipers of Apollo emphasized order and calm in their celebrations.
In contrast, the worshipers of Dionysusthe god of wineemphasized wildness, abandon, letting go, as did Native Americans. She described in detail the contrasts between rituals, beliefs, personal preferences amongst people of diverse cultures to show how each culture had a “personality” that was encouraged in each individual. Other anthropologists of the culture and personality school also developed these ideas, notably Margaret Mead in her Coming of Age in Samoa published before “Patterns of Culture” and Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies published just after Benedict’s book came out.
Benedict was a senior student of Franz Boas when Mead began to study with them, and they had extensive and reciprocal influence on each other’s work. Abram Kardiner was also affected by these ideas, and in time, the concept of “modal personality” was born: Benedict, in Patterns of Culture, expresses her belief in cultural relativism. She desired to show that each culture has its own moral imperatives that can be understood only if one studies that culture as a whole. It was wrong, she felt, to disparage the customs or values of a culture different from one’s own.
Those customs had a meaning to the people who lived them which should not be dismissed or trivialized. We should not try to evaluate people by our standards alone. Moralityshe argued, was relative to the values of the culture in which one operated. As she described the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest based on the fieldwork of her mentor Boasthe Pueblo of New Mexico among whom she had direct experiencethe nations of the Great Plains, the Dobu culture of New Guinea regarding whom she relied upon Mead and Reo Fortune ‘s fieldworkshe gave evidence that their values, even where they may seem strange, are intelligible in terms of their own coherent cultural systems and should be understood and respected.
Critics have objected to the degree of abstraction and generalization inherent in the “culture and personality” approach. Some have argued that particular patterns she found may be only a part or a subset of the whole cultures. For example, David Friend Aberle writes that the Pueblo people may be calm, gentle, and much given to ritual when in one mood or set of circumstances, but they may be suspicious, retaliatory, and warlike in other circumstances. Inshe was appointed an associate professor at Columbia University.
However, by then, Benedict had already assisted in the training and guidance of several Columbia students of anthropology including Margaret Mead and Ruth Landes. Benedict was among the leading cultural anthropologists who were recruited by the US government for war-related research and consultation after the US entry into World War II.
This pamphlet was intended for American troops and set forth, in simple language with cartoon illustrations, the scientific case against racist beliefs.
The nations united against fascismthey continue, include “the most different physical types of men. And the writers explicate, in section after section, the best evidence they knew for human equality. They want to encourage all these types of people to join together and not fight amongst themselves. In their bodies is the record of their brotherhood.
Benedict is known not only for her earlier Patterns of Culture but also for her later book The Chrysanthemum and the Swordthe study of the society and culture of Japan that she published inincorporating results of her war-time research.
This book is an instance of Anthropology at a Distance. Study of a culture through its literaturethrough newspaper clippings, through films and recordings, etc.
Unable to visit Nazi Germany or Yy under Hirohitoanthropologists made use of the cultural materials to produce studies at a distance. They were attempting to understand the cultural patterns that might be driving their aggression, and hoped to find possible weaknesses, or means of persuasion that had been missed. Benedict’s war work included a major study, largely completed inaimed at understanding Japanese culture.
Americans found themselves unable to comprehend matters in Japanese culture. For instance, Americans considered it quite natural for American prisoners of war to want their families to know they were alive, and to keep quiet when asked for information about troop movements, etc. Why, too, did Asian peoples neither treat the Japanese as their liberators lla Western colonialismnor accept their own supposedly just place in a hierarchy that had Japanese at the top?
Benedict played a major role in grasping the place of the Emperor of Japan in Japanese popular cultureand formulating the recommendation to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that permitting continuation of the Emperor’s reign had to be part of the eventual surrender offer.
Other Japanese who have read this work, according to Margaret Mead, found it on the whole accurate but somewhat “moralistic”. Sections of the book rutj mentioned in Takeo Doi ‘s book, The Anatomy of Dependencethough Doi is highly critical of Benedict’s concept that Japan has a ‘shame’ culture, whose emphasis is on how one’s moral conduct appears to outsiders in contradistinction to America’s Christian ‘guilt’ culture, in which the emphasis is on individual’s internal conscience.
Doi stated that this claim clearly implies the former value system is inferior to the latter one. Benedict College in Stony Brook University has been named after her. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.