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Is Beavis and Butthead Culture?


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What is Culture?
Authors: Richard Law, Eric Miraglia
Complex Definitions

What do you think culture is?

   This assignment is about making decisions and learning to construct your own understanding of material that you're learning. I want you to examine the What is Culture? module very carefully and weigh all the separate notions of what culture. You are then to construct your own definition of culture by using elements from several definitions or discussions of culture that you encounter in the module. When you use elements from these definitions, evaluate them carefully. Write down what you think the strengths and weaknesses of these definitions are.This definition of culture will make up the first paragraph of your essay.
   In the second paragraph of your essay, you are to use your definition of culture which you have constructed out of several definitions or discussions of culture in order to explain the cultural meaning of the MTV series, Beavis and Butthead. If you're unfamiliar with the series, then choose a television series that you're very familiar with. You aren't going to be describing the show, rather you're going to interpret the show using your definition of culture. How well does your definition explain the show? What "cultural work" is being done by the show?

Grading

   This essay is about one thing: joining ideas with the application or use of those ideas. Your job in the first part of the essay is to make a decision about a complex subject by choosing among different and contrary definitions and discussions. The second part of the essay is about applying your decision to a specific problem. This essay, then, is about application of information. You will be graded in how well you unify your essay, that is, how well you employ the material in the first part of your essay to its application in the second part. The best essays will apply every part of your discussion of the meaning of culture to interpreting the television show; the worst essays will apply nothing from your discussion of culture, or apply only the conclusions of that discussion, to the television show.

Learning Skills: Complex Definitions

   Attached to this assignment is a learning skills module on complex definitions. You may want to read over the material in putting together your essay.

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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-10-97