Robert Ackerman

Robert Ackerman Director of Humanities at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, is the author of J.G. Frazer: His Life and Work and of The Myth and Ritual School.

Who now cares about Malinowski?

Robert Ackerman, 23 May 1996

Twenty years ago I was about to leave the English Department at Columbia University to spend a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton: my project was a biography of J.G. Frazer. At Columbia I had written a dissertation on the literary-critical legacy of the ‘Cambridge Ritualists’ (Jane Ellen Harrison, F.M. Cornford, Gilbert Murray and A.B. Cook, turn-of-the-century classicists who had written on the connection between Greek myth and ritual and the origins of drama), and had then read a good deal of Frazer, who influenced the Ritualists greatly. The project held many difficulties. Chief among them was that, because Frazer worked in classics, anthropology and the history of religion, as an outsider I would have to teach myself the history of all those disciplines. I decided to tap Columbia’s considerable resources first, by talking to colleagues in order to get some sense of how my subject resonated with them.

House of Frazer

J.W. Burrow, 31 March 1988

‘Among the Bechuanas it is a rule ... The Borero Indians of Brazil think ... The Huichol Indians admire ... In some parts of Melanesia ...’ And in Bangkok at 12 o’clock? It...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences