Broadly speaking, there are two general ways of defining culture. One of them is used in anthropology, sociology, and other social sciences. It is relatively objective and value-neutral. It refers to the practices, patterns, and concepts shared by a group of people. Another definition is more partisan and value laden. It is the kind of culture alluded to in rhetoric about a culture war, or a clash of cultures. This definition implies--or sometimes frankly states-- that some ways of acting are better than others, and some forms of art are better than others.
Research these two definitions. Find at least one credible source that explains each position. (You may use as many sources as you like.)
Select a multicultural text to which you'll apply the definitions.
Explain each definition and its implications.
Apply each definition to a multicultural text of your choosing, and explain how approaching culture from these different perspectives shapes your understanding and evaluating of your chosen text.
Consider the following:
- With which definition are you most familiar?
- Is one right and the other wrong, or are they both appropriate to specific situations?
- Where do the definitions agree, and where do they disagree?
- Do some definitions apply better/more fully to some texts than to others?
- Do some definitions apply better/more fully to some aspects of literary texts than to others?