WRAC

Rauscher

Cultural Literacies Essay
Remember that our syllabus tells us that this course is inquiry based. Our library session introduced you to inquiry as we will study and use it in this course and in academia especially. Essentially, to write about something is to inquire about it. Writers ask questions about things and then answer them for the readers. They consider what sorts of questions the reader might have in the context of the topic they are exploring. And even though they may not ultimately include those questions in the text of their writing, they do include the answers. The questions act as guides that lead writers to information about a topic or topics and/or lead them to more questions to be answered. In this second essay you will engage in inquiry to explore the meanings and values of a tangible thing within a culture or a sub-culture. The thing that you might investigate further through this writing is that which you used for show-andtell during class time. You’ll assess the literacy that the object expresses and consider what it reveals about that culture’s or ethnic group’s values and practices. For example, what does an examination of a WW I spent shell case tell us 1 about the culture that produced and uses it? If we examined a peace symbol carefully, what might we assume about the culture? What does it communicate? To “hear” what your object has to say about the culture, you should approach the object as if you are introduced to it for the first time. This is where inquiry comes into play. As you know, inquiry means to engage in questioning. Some questions that you might ask about an object are, for example,
http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/machineaesthetic/18pounder-artillery-shells-the-great-war-recycled-and-re-circulated-

My Grandfather had shells such as these. These are brass 18-pounder spent artillery shell cases from WW I, which have been recycled and re-worked into trench-art decorative shell vases. (WWI Centenary; Photograph: Melanie Winterton. CC BY-NC-SA.)

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Who uses(used) this thing? How do they use it? Do other cultures use it? What does this thing mean? Does it mean different things to different people? Who values this thing? Does it have different forms of value (spiritual, monetary, ideological)? Does one culture value it but another not?

You will use inquiry to work toward a theme or thesis that reveals the ways cultural literacies articulate value, interpret meaning, and define a thing. Speak about the culture in which the artifact is situated and probe the the literacies that surround the artifact and thus are invested in the culture. We will do brainstorming in class to help us generate some ideas and some questions. Your audience must find value and/or entertainment in what you write and/or the way your paper is written. Be as creative as you can. Audience: As the audience, your peers and I want to know about the artifact. You should present us with a fresh way (revised literacy) of looking at your artifact and a fresh way of looking at the cultures and literacies that use, interpret, value and, possibly, made it. Learning Goals: o To integrate evidence, description, and analysis as a tool for inquiry. o To understand how to relate to an audience. o To understand the inquiry process: forming inquiry questions, revising them, and using them to develop an inventive thesis.

The image comes from the site, World War I Centenary:, Continuations and Beginnings, which is an open educational resource supporting new directions in teaching World War I. http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/machineaesthetic/18-pounder-artillery-shells-the-great-war-recycled-andre-circulated-2/

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WRAC

Rauscher

Skills Practiced: o Inquiry skills to generate information, ideas, concepts, and thesis/theme. Inventing though inquiry. Researching for information for both invention and to support claims Connecting ideas and concepts. o Arranging ideas and text. o Exploring revisionary ideas. o Reading critically. o Analyzing to connect personal observation to cultural theories. Paper Requirements: o Clear thesis or theme (explicitly stated or implicitly placed in your essay) about the value of your chosen artifact within a cultural group or community in relation to literacy. o Detailed analysis as evidence to the value you are attributing to your cultural artifact. o Summary and evaluation of at least two outside sources on the topic of your cultural artifact or community. o Narration and description; “Show, don’t tell.” o Cover letter with the write-up of how you worked through writing this paper—RAIDS (as you know, Invention, Arrangement, Revision, Style, Delivery), SWAP (and Subject, Writer, Audience, and Purpose). o Written primarily in the third person (I suggest using third person plural (they/them/their), when possible, to avoid he/she problems and verb tense issues. Of course, you will want to use first person when you highlight your personal experiences related to the object. o 4 (full) – 6 pages long, 11 or 12 point font, depending on type used. o Heading with name and page number. o Double-spaced throughout. o Works Cited/Bibliography section for the one or more sources of information you used (MLA Style). o Add at least one image of the object, more if you like. Be sure that it contains an accompanying thoughtful caption and a credit. In Summary: Your paper should have a focus and a purpose and you should come to some conclusion concerning the object. The essay should investigate a central question regarding the object and examine other related questions in the attempt to answer this central question. You might not come to a definitive answer in your conclusion; the conclusion may be an opinion you have reached as a result of your investigation. Note that this is not a traditional research paper but more of an exploratory essay. (See what Bruce Ballenger, in the The Curious Researcher, says about exploration in our text on p144.)