This paper (minimum 1250 words, submitted via email) builds on the “Coming to Terms with Culture” short assignment. Again, our main goal is to analyze a specific cultural artifact with reference to concepts from our class readings (culture and ideology, culture and language, culture and gender, culture and emotions, pleasure activism, the male glance, etc.). In our analysis, we want to draw on Harris’s notions of “coming to terms,” “forwarding,” and “countering” so that we can better understand how the text works, put it into conversation with our class readings, and then build on and extend the thinking of those readings.
Your analysis will need to substantially incorporate at least two sources, including at least one of our class readings and at least one source that you locate through your own research. You should use these sources to extend your thinking on the text you are analyzing, putting the text into conversation with these outside sources. To do so, draw on Harris’s notions of “forwarding” and “countering.”
For Harris, “a writer forwards a text by taking words, images, or ideas from it and putting them to use in new contexts. In forwarding a text, you test the strengths of its insights and the range and flexibility of its phrasings. You rewrite it through reusing some of its key concepts and phrasings” (37-38). Similarly, in countering, “Your aim is not to refute what has been said before, to bring the discussion to an end, but to respond to prior views in ways that move the conversation in new directions” (57). That’s what you’ll be doing with these outside sources as you apply them to your cultural artifact.
Toward this end, your writing should address the following prompts and questions:
- Ultimately, you will need to offer your own argument, insight, or perspective about the text you are analyzing, and you will need to forward and counter ideas from your sources to help support and develop your argument. You should be able to articulate how your analysis of the text adds to our understanding of these ideas and the sources that discuss them.
- To support your argument, you will need to analyze specific details from the text. For example, if you are analyzing a song, you should discuss specific lyrics, aspects of the music, aspects of the video, etc. If you are analyzing someone in the fashion industry, you should discuss specific aspects of their clothes in terms of color, material, design, etc. You’ll need to make connections between these detailed observations and the larger insights and perspectives you want to offer so that we see how they relate: how do these details allow us to talk about the ideas from the sources? How does the text shape our thinking about these ideas? This is where your outside sources will be relevant: you should draw on the sources and their ideas to analyze the cultural artifact and help us understand it from different perspectives.
- This is not a requirement, but one way to develop your analysis is to compare one text or creator to another. For example, if I were analyzing Taylor Swift, I could compare one of her country songs to one of her pop songs, or one of her pop songs to a song by Nicki Minaj or Rihanna, or one of her songs to song from a different genre, such as punk music. A comparison could help you be more precise in articulating how your text helps us think about our concepts in a different way.