One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Transcribing Tolkien

I feel this semester that my studies focus around evolutionary theory because it takes up most of time.  My time management has allowed me to focus on all my studies equally, I am thankful for that is one of my strengths. But some times time gets away from me and I tend to focus much of energy on things that I don’t understand the longest, hence evolutionary theory which seems to go over my head most of the time. 

However, I am really enjoying my other courses. I finally have some time to post some of my work that I have been doing. Today, I am posting a project that I did for my Historical Documents course. This is project focused on transcribing documents. I decided transcribe original manuscripts of Tolkien from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be. Tolkien had horrible handwriting. I will show the images of the writings that I decided to transcribe and describe them.

tolkien-manuscript (1)

The first document is from The Two Towers. I know what you are thinking…why didn’t you just find the section of the book it was written for? This is the original manuscript and Tolkien rewrote the Lord of the Rings series several times until he thought it was perfect. Bits and pieces are in the book but not word for word that Tolkien had written in this document. 

 In this document, Gollum disappears while the trio is climbing up  The Stairs of Cirith Ungol.  and Sam is expressing his distrust for Gollum to Frodo while Frodo tries to defend Gollum because he is a product of what the Ring does to an individual. 

The first paragraph of this document is transcribed as: 

“That’s that!” said Sam. While in [illegible word] But I don’t like it )  I suppose then we are just exactly where he wanted to bring us. Well, let’s get / moving away as quick as we can. The headwinds have [crossed out] worn [?]! Head / land over cliff wasn’t pure joy at getting end of the tunnel. It was pure / wickedness of some sort. And what sort we’ll soon know. / Likely enough said Frodo. But we could not have gotten even so far /without him. So after even manage our errand. Then Gollum and all his / wickedness unveils part of his plan/


The second document is a letter Tolkien wrote critiquing someone’s work. I used this document to compare his handwriting to the first document. This allowed me to fill in the blanks in the first document. Tolkien in general, had horrible handwriting. He sort of admits in his letter, but he says it is scribble due to being rushed. 

The first paragraph in this document is I transcribed:

Well, this uscenitatis [?] survival of female [crossed out sentence] / Then you want you final check in the explanation of how [illegible word] that / Barber [?] thoughts could be known. The Barber who has survived / All right, but my criticism is that in that case your weakness / your last 8 lines of the story [dash line] far as the summary, rushed, and uncon / sistant. That see you see challenge criticisms by ending “the / majors [?] stories are always so unconvincing.” You can use say that / of [illegible] are [illegible word] (an near impossible basis) unconvincing. It’s no good / may [?] to make a story faster or more snappy [happy?]. Now is inherent nature will allow ** [marginal note: Every story has a maximum speed if you want a Mechanism of Man fast moving stories, you must select thesis that go to that pace. You can tell any story up to its maximum speed, but beyond that – it just remains unconvincing” (in a literary sense)./

Tolkien-ManuscriptThe third document is another original manuscript from the Fellowship of the Ring. This manuscript describes how to decipher the elvish writing to enter the Mines of Moria. The handwriting is a little more legible in this document, or it may have been me looking at it for so long it started to make sense. 

The first part of this document I transcribed as:

“What does the writings say?” asked Frodo, who was try [ing?] [cut off] / [sentence crossed out] /decipher the inscription on the arch. “I thought I knew elf letters, but/ [crossed out: these are all entangled] cannot read these.”/

   ”These are in the elf-tongue of [crossed out words] the West/ Middle-earth in the Elder Days,” said Gandalf. “But they do [page cut off] / say any thing of importance to us. [sentence crossed out] / [sentence crossed out] They say only: The Doors of [underlined] / Durin Lord of Moria. Speak, Friend, and enter [underlined]. And under [neath?] [page cut off] / small and faint is: I Narvi made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin [underlined] / drew these signs.” [underlined]/ 

The final document is the original opening to the Lord of the Rings. This was the easiest of the all the documents to transcribed. 

The first couple of sentences are transcribed as:485px-The_original_opening_page_of_The_Lord_of_the_Rings

When Bilbo, son of Bungo of the family/of Baggins [cross out word] prepared to celebrate [crossed out: d] his sevenith / birthday there was for a day or two some talk in the / neighborhood. He had once had a little fleeting / fame among the people of Hobbiton and Bywater [dash line] / [crossed out word] he had disappeared after breakfast one April 30th / and not reappeared until lunchtime on June 22nd in / the following year. 

For a perfectionist, J.R.R. Tolkien had pretty bad handwriting. In order to decipher most of his writing, I had to compare and contrast his handwriting with other documents. I really enjoyed this exercise and it is a good skill to have whether it is transcribing documents from the 18th century to Tolkien. I also found it really interesting to see the differences and the edits Tolkien made from his original ideas to the end product that we read. 


Wordless Wednesday – Evolution



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Disease and Culture – Glioblastomas

This week in Disease and Culture, I presented my disease project on glioblastomas, brain tumor. My father was diagnosed with this type of tumor almost 2 years ago this month. It was an emotional presentation and I tried not to be upset while presenting it. I have always found that personal experiences verifies the knowledge that is being presented.  In my case I know it all too well.

Front of Handout

Back of handout

I have included the handout that I created to go along with the Prezi presentation.

This handout includes the background information about the disease, symptoms, terms, and cultural aspects that have effected and been effected by this disease.

We often forget how much of our culture is shaped by various disease, how diseases have shaped our culture, and how we treat diseases.







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Wordless Wednesday – Interpreting History & Simulated Figures in Histories



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Respecting other cultures when mailing packages to the troops

Being the loving and over cautioned military wife that I am, I researched what was prohibited when mailing a care package to an APO address to my husband. According to the USPS website, the items that are prohibited include: obscene materials, nude or semi-nude porno graphic material, bulk religious material that is contrary to Islamic faith, and pork or pork byproduct. The last two caught my interest and the first thing that came to my mind was food taboos of Islamic faith.

Before deploying, troops are briefed on the cultures they will be interacting with in the location they are deploying to. This usually includes the customs, traditions, relations between individuals, religious institutions, etc.  As a way of to control the amount of disruption upon another culture as best as they can. Also the sheer presents of troops is a disruption upon culture. At least there is an effort to understand the ways of another culture.

As stated on the USPS site, it is prohibited to send pork products or byproducts. Consuming pork product is prohibited according to Muslim Law. Like Jewish pork taboo, the same is in Islamic faith – the animal must it must have split hooves and chew its cud and it cannot have one and not the other, like the pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud.

Since on of the many things troops do in another country is to befriend the locals, accepting that there is a taboo of food is one way to build that trust. I found it interesting that the postal service does provide that information as a way of helping the troops establish those relations by not allowing individuals from the U.S. to send those products over to those who are interacting with the culture.

I am assuming that the no religious material in bulk that is contrary to the Islam faith is to not appear as if the troops are missionaries.  It does say that a religious item may be shipped to a single individual. Trying to avoid the feelings and failings of colonialism. But it is nice to see the efforts to not cause too much disruption within another culture.  As we have seen in the past of the devastating results that continue to still have effects upon certain cultures.

Once can see from reading this on the USPS that is geared towards the troops that are deployed in the Middle-East and Northern Africa. It hold true that these areas have been the areas that the US has been deployed to in the past decade and still are being deployed to these areas. I am sure that those who are deployed in other areas of the world, there are also restrictions to what can or cannot be sent due to the culture they are interacting with.

There is a tendency to think that the presence of military troops destroy cultures and change the people they interact with. This is true that the presence of troops will result in changes to a culture, it is inevitable with any group of individuals who come into contact and interact with a culture outside their own. But at least there is an effort to minimize the damage that could be done if there was a lack of cultural education to troops.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday – Spending Behavior Influenced By Language

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This Semester’s Courses

It is 3 weeks into the Fall 2013 semester and it had already been overwhelming with the amount of readings, project planning, and the anticipation of my husband’s deployment departure (which happens next week). Due to all that I have been lacking on blog posting. Now that I am organized (or least think I am) for this semester, I will be able to post more.

This semester I am taking 4 courses, all graduate level. It isn’t recommended but I have a personal goal to finish my degree by the end of the Spring Semester, right before Brian gets back from deployment.

The courses I am taking this semester:

  • Evolutionary Theory in Biological Anthropology – This course covers theories of evolution of humankind from the time of  Darwin to modern day theories. We have been reading The Origins of Species  for the past two classes.
  • Advanced Method & Theory in Archaeology – This course discusses the methods and theories that have been used to define and shape archaeology
  • Historical Research Methods in Archaeology – This is a practical application course that introduces the use of historical documents into archaeological research.
  • Disease & Culture – This course discusses how diseases has shaped culture and culture has shaped diseases. It is an introduction into Medical Anthropology.

I am almost covering the holistic approach to anthropology minus linguistics, Each course has a final project/research paper due which I plan to share my research and post the final products.  My ultimate plan is to somehow tie each of thesis final projects into my thesis somehow. It will be a challenge, but it makes all the more fun.

This semester I am also going to be working on my prospectus for my Masters Thesis (not that I don’t have enough to do this semester). Draft #1 has been done but I am sure there are going to be many revisions.  I want to remain busy and distracted with my work this semester and be able to focus most of my time in the Spring semester to write my thesis. I also need to be distracted to not think about missing my husband while he is on deployment.

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Wordless Wednesday – Why Do Companies Need Anthropologists

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Wordless Wednesday – Mexican Witchcraft



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