May 26, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 19

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    Quantrell Award: George Stocking, Stein-Freiler Distingui

    George Stocking, the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology, has high expectations for students, and Chicago students seldom disappoint him.

    "One of the great things about this University is that our students are in general so good that we can demand quite a bit from them," he said.

    Stocking, who teaches courses in anthropology to students in the College, assigns work each session to encourage faithful attendance -- part of a teaching strategy that heavily emphasizes what goes on in each class meeting.

    "I place a great deal of emphasis on what happens in class. I think the dynamics of interchange between the professor and the students are very important," he said.

    Although the workload in his classes may be demanding, Stocking takes a straightforward, systematic approach to teaching to help students get the most out of his classes.

    "Students value organization," Stocking said. "I try to pass out an outline for each lecture I give. I tell them that if they understand the headings listed on the outline, they will understand what I expect them to get from the course."

    In addition to classroom interaction, Stocking also emphasizes the use of texts in his classes. "My courses are very textual. I expect students to read closely the books we study," he said.

    In his course on the history of Native American anthropology, Stocking assigns texts spanning the period between 1850 and 1980. During the course, groups of students make presentations on the books they are studying. Preparing the presentation helps students focus on the content of the text, Stocking said.

    "I meet with each group of students before their presentation to help them plan. This gives me a chance to have additional contact with them," he said. "I think it's very important that students come to see me, to talk about the problems they are having. I encourage that."

    In his courses, Stocking gives students a historical perspective on the study of anthropology. That viewpoint grows from his own research interests, which are focused on the history of anthropology, particularly the Anglo-American tradition since the 18th century. He is the author of several books, including "Victorian Anthropology" (1987) and "The Ethnographer's Magic and Other Essays in the History of Anthropology" (1992).

    He received his B.A. in 1949 from Harvard and his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at Berkeley before joining the Chicago faculty in 1968. He was named the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in 1990.

    -- William Harms