Mainstreams and Margins in the US and the World
The prompt for the paper is below. I also attached a partial rough draft of the paper to give you a better idea of the concept of the paper so feel free to use anything from that. I need there to be 4 sources from the readings I have attached.
The outline below is what I covered in class on Monday (May 5) regarding the final paper. Note that at the end I give a an example/outline of how I might address this. I focus on one particular cultural text—Buffy the Vampire Slayer—in order to explain the ways in which a particular cultural element fits into mainstreams or margins. But you don’t have to use that approach; you can frame this however you see fit. So, for example, instead of focusing on one specific cultural element, you could use several (e.g. Buffy and Breaking Bad), or a set of them (e.g. TV shows, or rap music. Or, you might take a more general approach by focusing on the issue of what a cultural mainstream/margin is, rather than focusing on the things that fit into mainstreams/margins. If you’re confused or have questions, feel free to talk to me or your TA.
The instructions for the final paper as on the assignment sheet are copied here:
Paper 5: Mainstreams and margins in the US and the World. 5 pages. Due May 20. Cite at least 4 readings. 20%
Explain what you learned about how cultural elements (art, music, print, non-print, material objects, etc.) are part of mainstreams or margins. Explain also how cultural elements construct mainstreams and margins. Explain how you fit into cultural mainstreams and margins, and explain what these are (i.e. what is the social construction, or ideology, that from your perspective separates mainstream from margin?).
A. the instructions above ask 4 questions:
1. Explain your social location, i.e. cultural traditions per
a) Caughey reading
b) Paper 1 and Paper 2
2. Given your social location, how do you see yourself fitting into mainstreams/margins? And how you define mainstreams/margins?
a) E.g. when you look at your own cultural traditions/location, do you notice any patterns in your own thinking about what constitutes a mainstream/margin?
b) Are there any key ideas/concepts/principles you use to determine what’s a mainstream/margin?
3. How does the concept of a cultural mainstream define/construct cultural forms?
4. How do cultural forms construct mainstreams/margins?
a) Questions 3 and 4 are similar to Paper 3, Paper 4, and group project
b) They may be answered in very general terms, or with specific examples, but should use readings to support answer
B. These questions have been addressed to some degree in previous papers
C. This is asking you to put those papers together into one thing and show that you’ve learned something this semester
D. You don’t have to use same ideas, or analyze same cultural texts/objects, as in your previous papers, but you can
E. Key is to make some analysis or argument about cultural mainstreams that includes your own cultural location/traditions, and that explains how culture constructs mainstreams/margins and is also constructed by it
F. An example of how I might write such a paper:
1. I might locate myself as growing up in SoCal as 2nd generation, minority, outsider
2. Saw this show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and thought it was the best thing ever
3. Which makes sense because it was about growing up in SoCal
4. But as I thought about it, couldn’t figure out why I liked it
5. It was about outsiders, which I could identify with
6. But outsiders on TV aren’t all that marginal either
7. So Buffy was pretty mainstream, in that it was on TV, i.e. it was constructed a certain way to be suitable for TV
8. but it also helped define what was marginal for TV, and became popular enough to construct a broader mainstream for TV
9. for this example, I could use readings on culture (Caughey), race (Lipsitz, Hata, Haney Lopez), pop culture (Storey, Hinds)
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