Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" by Horace Miner

Good discussion in class yesterday! I hope that Miner's essay has given you all food for thought.
To recap, some key points:

Critical distance
-- When approaching any topic, you as a critic have to make the choice between passion and objectivity. How far will you think with your head, and how far will you go with your heart?
E.g., look at the Alvarez article – what are some of the approaches to her essay?

1. Adopt her suggestions as a way of thinking and writing;
2. Try to analyse her method of writing and see it as a series of steps (process analysis);
3. Try to see how she is manipulating you into a “collegiate” frame of address; analyse her tone and manner of writing.

So, we can use our critical lens to examine this, or any, essay and then form a critique of it from our position of critical distance.

Man, Culture and Society

What is the difference between "society" and "culture"?
Which is a product of the other?

Remember, the key idea -- even individual ants form themselves into societies, but only individual men come together in societies and have culture.

Some cultural institutions: all arbitrary structures in society such as Law, Morality, Religion, Art, Literature, and so on.

Reading Miner critically (use your Essay Toolkit from class 2):

Purpose -- why does he write this piece?
Audience -- who is he writing for? Other anthropologists, college students, laypeople?
Tone -- what is the tone he uses? Does it vary over the course of the essay?
Style -- how does he present his material? What is the purpose of the references he makes? What is the crucial need for the quote at the end of the essay?

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