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CrossCultural Perspectives

Write one paragraph for each topic.

1. Read: Horace Miner / Nacirema 

A few focus questions to get you started: (You DO NOT have to answer all of these, they are there as points of departure if you need)

  • If you consulted a map, where is the specific geographic homeland of the Nacirema, as described by Miner?
  • What are the “charms” Miner mentions in his essay?
  • Who are the “Holy-mouth men”?
  • What is a “listener”?
  • Do any of these things seem familiar to you?
  • Nacirema are “a magic-ridden people” – do you agree?
  • What does it mean to satirize?
  • Does this essay relate in any way to Wade Davis’s TED Talk?
2. Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk: The Danger of the Single Story.

In her TED talk, contemporary novelist and short story writer Chimamanda Adichie gives a factual, historical narrative about the elements of fiction from a very personal point of view. She also discusses the danger of stereotypes, which she explains are not completely untrue, but are incomplete and foster bias. Her talk reflects and expands upon our course work from last week, where we examined America’s false historical narrative of racial inequality, and how difficult it is to shift this narrative.

Here are some points to consider from Adiche’s Talk:

What is Narrative?

  • A spoken or written account of connected events; a story
  • The practice or art of telling stories

What is Fiction?

  • Literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people
  • Invention or fabrication as opposed to fact

What is historical fiction?

  • Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the recent or far-away past. The setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical people, but the main characters tend to be fictional. Historical fiction writers attempt to capture the life-styles and social conditions of the people and times presented in the story, with careful attention paid to period detail.

After you have watched Adichie’s TED talk, read the following short stories, both in the Course Readings folder:  Chimamanda Adichie’s  The American Embassy, and Chinua Achebe’s The Madman.

**Please note: Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013) is acclaimed for his unsentimental depictions of the social and psychological disorientation of African culture, in response to Western customs and values forced upon traditional African society. He is a pioneer of the Nigerian literary movement, and a valuable mentor to contemporary writers such as Chimamanda Adichie.

With Adichie’s Ted Talk in mind:

  • Compare these two famous Nigerian writers (from two different literary time periods), and the context (and contrasts) of these two stories.
  • Can you find a link between them?
  • Mention which story was more appealing to you, and why.
3. As you learned in Reading National Geographic by Lutz and Collins, images can:
  • Exoticize
  • Politicize
  • Idealize
  • Sexualize
  • Go to natgeo-national-geographic-best-pictures/11344563/
  • Watch the 22 minute video featuring National Geographic’s “2021 Year in Review” (**Choose the “Watch Picture in Picture” option)
  • Take a screen shot of the image that most appeals to you in this video.
  • Describe the cultural context of the image, as described by the narrator, and explain why you chose this image.
  • Does the image you chose fit into one of the four categories listed above, re: Lutz & Collin’s essay? Briefly describe how.
4. What is Cultural Appropriation?

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of cultural appropriation is: “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.”

First – watch this 10 minute PBS video that summarizes the concept of Cultural Appropriation:

Then  – listen to this story by the Black American writer Percival Everett, entitled The Appropriation of Cultures:

Write a short post critically analyzing Everett’s story, and when possible reference the PBS video that defines the meaning of cultural appropriation.

5. Week #8 Part 1 / City Of The Dead

First: Summarize the four readings and videos assigned in the Week #8 Part 1 Lecture (Course Documents)

Then: Respond to these focus questions with examples from the coursework:

  • From what you have learned, have living conditions in The City of the Dead changed, improved or evolved over the past 30 years?
  • Explain why or why not. (give concrete examples)
6. Why do women veil?

•    When did this practice begin, and why?
•    Why is veiling a controversy in the workplace and in educational and social situations?
•    Who decides whether a woman should or should not veil?

Based on the coursework assigned in the Week #8 Part 2 Announcement, tell us what you conclude from the readings and videos on veiling. *If you veil, or know someone who does, how does this affect your interpretation of these materials?

7. Begin by reading the Borders Lecture (Course Documents)

Then complete two Readings and the Written Assignment:

  • Read Simon Western’s The Making and Unmaking of Borders, and EITHER  Thomas King’s Borders OR Eden Robinson’s Swallow (Course Documents > Course Readings folder)
  • Post a brief critical analysis comparing Western’s essay with the story you chose