New Elegance

After four years of dorm living, and a semester braving Cambridge cockroaches off campus. Tanya Luhrmann is looking forward to the elegant lifestyle of a different Cambridge university. At Emmanuel College in Cambridge. England, she will occupy the oak-panelled John Harvard rooms which from part of her De Jersey fellowship. "Apparently," she says, "it means having people over for coffee a lot."

She notes, however, that in some ways her new quarters will be as primitive as the cultures she will study as a doctoral candidate in anthropology. "The food is supposed to be terrible," she says, "and you have to go outside to go to the bathroom."

A Folklore and Mythology major, Luhrmann calls anthropology "the most theoretically interesting field around today." After she passes her first strenuous year of general anthropology training--commonly known as the M. Phil--she will pursue an unstructured three-year program working closely with a specialist of her choice.

Luhrmann's sojourn to Cambridge--funded by a National Science Fellowship as well as the De Jersey--comes after almost four years devoted to "the problem of finding a coherent theory of society which accounts for the individual."

Her search for an answer has taken her as far as Central America, where during a leave of absence junior year she did archeological fieldwork and studied the ancient Mayan civilization.

A paper whe wrote on her symbolic analysis of a Mayan myth--the polpovuh--won the Bowdoin Prize this year.

In fact, Luhrmann spent a good part of her senior year here applying for prizes and fellowships. She estimates that she applied to at least six or seven foundations--"more than most people."

"I knew I wanted to go to Cambridge--that someday I want to teach. I know it's a difficult field for women, and that many departments are cutting back, but you just can't think about these things."

She continues, "I think the whole fellowship application process is extremely important. You have to figure out how to explain yourself in three pages, and ask yourself a lot of difficult questions. I ended up taking a lot of long walks up and down Brattle Street."