Edward Sapir: Linguist, Anthropologist, Humanist

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University of California Press, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 480 pages
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Although he is referred to as a "genius" more often than any other scholar of his period, Edward Sapir has received no full-scale biography since his death in 1939. At long last Regna Darnell provides a comprehensive assessment of the life, ideas, and wide-ranging interests of this remarkable man.
Sapir, the foremost linguist and anthropologist of his generation, contributed substantially to the professionalization of linguistics as an independent discipline. He was the first to apply comparative Indo-European methods to the study of American Indian languages, on which he conducted extensive fieldwork. His theoretical work on the relationship of the individual personality to culture remains fundamental to culture theory in anthropology, as does his insistence on the symbolic nature of culture and the importance of culture as understood by its members, in their own words.
Sapir became the first professional anthropologist in Canada and teacher of a whole generation of linguists and anthropologists at Chicago and Yale. Holding to a humanistic view of anthropology (his own work included poetry and literary criticism), he was the most articulate spokesman for the interdisciplinary social science of the late 1920s and 1930s. In both linguistics and anthropology Sapir is a revered master whose ideas continue to inspire discussion and research. A sixteen-volume Collected Works is now in progress. Although he is referred to as a "genius" more often than any other scholar of his period, Edward Sapir has received no full-scale biography since his death in 1939. At long last Regna Darnell provides a comprehensive assessment of the life, ideas, and wide-ranging interests of this remarkable man.
Sapir, the foremost linguist and anthropologist of his generation, contributed substantially to the professionalization of linguistics as an independent discipline. He was the first to apply comparative Indo-European methods to the study of American Indian languages, on which he conducted extensive fieldwork. His theoretical work on the relationship of the individual personality to culture remains fundamental to culture theory in anthropology, as does his insistence on the symbolic nature of culture and the importance of culture as understood by its members, in their own words.
Sapir became the first professional anthropologist in Canada and teacher of a whole generation of linguists and anthropologists at Chicago and Yale. Holding to a humanistic view of anthropology (his own work included poetry and literary criticism), he was the most articulate spokesman for the interdisciplinary social science of the late 1920s and 1930s. In both linguistics and anthropology Sapir is a revered master whose ideas continue to inspire discussion and research. A sixteen-volume Collected Works is now in progress.

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About the author (1990)

Regna Darnell is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta.

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