Remembering Erving Goffman

Laurel Richardson

When I Told the Group I Was the Daughter of a Jewish Woman Who Emigrated
from Russia, Goffman Said, “So That Explains Why You Are so Smart”

Dr. Laurel Richardson sent this note about her encounter with Erving Goffman on January 4, 2014, and gave her aproval for adding it to the Goffman Arcvhies.

[Posted 01-12-14]

Now, let me add my own little story.  Sometime after my presentation at ASA on “The Door Ceremony,” an empirical piece that depended on both Simmel and Goffman for its theoretical basis, and its coverage on the front-page of the editorial section of the Sunday New York Times, [] I had the opportunity to join a group of qualitative researchers, including Goffman, at a meeting.  I do not recall what meeting.  Sorry.  The conversation turned to being Jewish in America.  When I told the group that I was the daughter of a Jewish woman who emigrated from Russia, Goffman said (and I do quote him now I think correctly, “So that explains why you are so smart.”



* The Erving Goffman Archives (EGA) is the web-based, open-source project that serves as a clearing house for those interested in the dramaturgical tradition in sociology and biographical methods of research.  The EGA is located in the Intercyberlibrary of the UNLV Center of Democratic Culture,  Postings on the website are divided into several overlapping sections: “Documents and Papers,” “Goffman's Publications,” “Goffman in the News,” “Biographical Materials,” “Critical Assessments,” and “Comments and Dialogues.”  For inquiries regarding the EGA projects, please contact Dr. Dmitri Shalin,  When you cite the materials collected for the EGA, please use the following reference:  Bios Sociologicus: The Erving Goffman Archives, ed. by Dmitri N. Shalin (UNLV: CDC Publications, 2009).