The editor of this journal asked me to report on the activities of an interdisciplinary faculty group at the University of Illinois called the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He felt that much intellectual vitality in contemporary anthropology goes on in such groups, but that their existence or concerns are rarely reported.
At Illinois, a core of about 15 faculty members from the humanities and social sciences have been meeting every other week since 1977. The disciplines represented include anthropology, communications, comparative literature, education, English, French, philosophy, political science, sociology, and, somehow, microbiology. At each meeting, assigned readings are discussed from major theories of interpretation such as hermeneutics, Marxism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, structuralism, poststructuralism, and semiotics, but we have also done readings in the social sciences (Bateson, Turner, Geertz, Sahlins, Goffman, Blumer, Garfinkel, Giddens), in theories of desire (Barthes, Jacqueline Rose, Kristeva, Montrelay, Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard), in feminism (Cixous, Mary Daly, Le Doeuff, Michele Barrett, Bev Brown, Elisabeth Lyon), and in pragmatism (Pierce, Wil liam James, Dewey, Mead). Major scholars whose works have occupied a full semester or an entire year include Heidegger, Nietzsche, Gadamer, Marx, Freud, Derrida, and Foucault. The fall 1985 readings are Postmodernism, which won out in a faculty vote over Lacan. Other activities of the Unit include joint teaching of courses such as structuralism and semiotics, and theories of interpretation. The Unit also sponsors guest speakers and has a collo quium series in which faculty present their research (121).