Discuss the relevance of genre texts to their cultural moment. You will choose a course text dated before 2000 and imagine how a contemporary adaptation (reboot, remake, retelling, etc.) would be altered to reflect the cultural concerns of 2022 while remaining within its genre.
Rather than just detailing which tropes or jokes would be considered unacceptable, though, you must make an argument about one important element of contemporary social and political thought that you would expect to see incorporated into the show’s plot, affecting the kind of story your chosen text is telling.
The world is made up of a tremendous amount of cultures, all embracing different attitudes and ideas. Authors often expose their audience to different cultures, offering their own perspective.
Cultures vary greatly, and authors assume the responsibility of accurate representation. For a really basic example, an author should know not to portray a Hindu person eating a cheeseburger, because of the sacredness of the cow to the Hindu religion.
Literature can offer insight into what a culture finds to be right or habitual, and there are practically countless different forms of literature that illustrate cultural values. Race, gender, origin or location, and heritage, to name a few, all play a role in how an author expresses cultural values, or what a culture considers to be important to all within it.
Race and gender play a crucial role in expressing culture. Much of a person’s outlook is dependent on how the culture (either the person’s own or the one they are immersed in) treat race and gender. These factors can comprise the traits the author has to confront in developing characters.
The struggle between culture and race in American literature can be illustrated profoundly in African American literature, especially slave narratives, which were autobiographical works by free Blacks who were former slaves. These works rose to popularity around the time of the American Civil War.
In contrast, southern white American culture around that same time is also conveyed, exemplified by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Authors Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, famous African Americans, gave insight into their perspective on that culture in the literary works Beloved and The Color Purple, respectively.
Also set against the backdrop of southern white America, novels like Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Color Purple highlight females who, through friendship and perseverance, demonstrate courage and resistance against the patriarchal oppression of their subculture. Equally, A Thousand Splendid Suns, set in Afghanistan from the 1960s to the 2000s, shows the female power of love and endurance in the face of extreme oppression. Through the stories of Mariam and Laila, the themes of limitless courage and female friendship overshadow the devastating conditions under which they live.
Culture can be expressed in literature based on the origin of the character or author, or even tied to a general location.
Things Fall Apart, by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, describes not only the culture of a tribe in Nigeria, but the effects of English white men coming in and taking over. The clash that ensues shows the differing values and attitudes of both.