Coming to Terms with Culture

For this short assignment (500-700 words), you should start to work toward analyzing the cultural artifact that you will address further in Paper 2. For both the short assignment and the paper, we want to draw on Harris’s notions of “coming to terms” and “forwarding” so that we can better understand how the cultural artifact works and how we can draw on class readings to analyze it. This analysis should draw on concepts and ideas from our class readings. You can continue to draw on our Unit 1 texts on creativity, but you can also incorporate thoughts from Bustillos, Eco, and Petersen on concepts such as masculinity, the “cool girl,” maturity and adulthood, morality, empathy, and diversity.

One challenge will be choosing a cultural artifact or text to analyze. Our understanding of “text” here is broad. Any thing or person that helps us think about creativity and these other concepts could work. You could focus on a text from popular culture such as a song, music video, television show, movie, or advertisement. You could look at examples from fashion, sports, food, entertainment, politics, or business. You can focus on a particular person that embodies a sense of creativity (or masculinity, or diversity, etc.). Just about anything will work as long as you can point to specific examples and make specific observations of the text you are analyzing.

Your work should address the following prompts and questions:

  • Before you work toward analyzing the text, you should first “come to terms” with it. How would you define the text’s project? What is the purpose of the text? How does it shape our ideas about what it is about? What sort of perspective does it offer? What keywords, passages, examples, or details can you identify from the text to support your thinking about its purpose and perspective? What details from the text are particularly important in terms of our understanding of it?
  • Offer your own thoughts on how this text embodies a sense of creativity. How does the text offer new ideas or shape our thinking in a new way? How does the text build on its influences? How is it different from other texts that are similar to it?
  • Put the text into conversation with one of our class readings. Can you use Lessig, Lang, Johnson, Lynch, or McRobbie to help us think about how this text is creative? Can you draw on Bustillos, Eco, or Petersen to help us consider how the text shapes our thinking about concepts such as gender, maturity, morality, empathy, or diversity? How does your text help us extend on what these authors have said, offering a different understanding of the concepts they take up?