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A Conversation of Cultures

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Ronald Donn

on 27 April 2016

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Transcript of A Conversation of Cultures

A Conversation of Cultures
Focus on Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
Review your project guidelines.
Getting Started
In an interview with
The Atlantic Online
, Chinua Achebe says, “There may be cultures that may sadly have to go, because no one is rooting for them, but we should make the effort to prevent this. We have to hold this conversation, which is a conversation of stories, a conversation of languages, and see what happens.”
The Central Theme: How does language preserve culture?
A. ACHEBE’S PURPOSE: In terms of culture, what does it mean to “speak someone’s language? What does Achebe mean by CONVERSATION?”
Achebe's Purpose
B. THE NOVEL: How are language and culture interdependent in Achebe’s novel? WHAT IS each culture’s language? What role does language play in the success or failure of communication?
The Novel
Review graphic organizer & mission statement forms
C. CONNECT: How do Achebe’s comments apply to YOUR culture? Consider: What are YOUR interests? What are your interests “made of”? What is your LANGUAGE and what do you do to keep it alive?

Macrocosmic approach (Big Picture, You can take it where you want.
-Dumb question: Can I connect the book to __________?
-Smart question: Does the connection to __________ fit the theme of the project?
First, you need to understand how your interests connect to this project.

Write a "thesis" to connect your interests to Achebe's interests in his novel.

How are your interests a vital part of your culture? How is it "spread" or expressed? What elements of your culture does it keep alive (for better or worse)?


The 1990’s gave us a brief revolution in attitudes concerning fast food.
Fueled by investigative journalism such as Eric Schlosser’s
Fast Food Nation
and films like Morgan Spurlock’s
Supersize Me
, people began thinking of McDonald’s—and fast food in general—as deadly, contaminated, and unnatural. Has that changed?
The history of public opinions on McDonalds' provides an example of cultural dialogue because McDonalds has become a metonym for American culture as it spreads into and changes the culture of non-Western countries.

POSITION. QUESTION. ASSERTION using this template:

_______________________ provide(s) an example of a cultural dialogue because _______________________.

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

Ingredients in strawberry milkshake
, Fast Food Nation
(without creepy horror
movie sounds, of course)

1) What am I interested in that affects people’s attitudes and changes the way people think/talk/act?

2) How is that thing expressed (what is its “language”)?

3) Does my topic of interest play a similar role to any of the various forms of cultural language
in the book?

*Some examples of "cultural language" in Things Fall Apart
: The sacred role of food (yam), gender roles we have in common (the roles of men and women), unwritten forms of communication (drums/music)

GOAL 1: How will your annotations help you evaluate the role language plays in creating and preserving cultural identity in
Things Fall Apart

You should print your annotations. Then start highlighting notes that help you determine...

• PLOT: What do people in the novel DO to preserve their cultures?

• CHARACTER: How are characters described and/or how do they COMMUNICATE that reveals cultural identity?

• LANGUAGE: What EXPOSITION (explanation, description) does the author provide that describes the literal language(s) used in the book?

McDonalds is an example of a cultural interest (fast food) that has affected millions and has it's own language (catch phrases, imagery, characters, commercials). For better or worse, this "language" has brought over 100 countries together. McDonald's is an "American idiom" that identifies us--and changes others. One can easily compare McDonalds to previous examples of industry and empire as represented in Achebe's novel!

Look again at the thesis. . .
This is where the sample thesis
connects the writer's interests
to the theme of culture and language
in the book. Review the thesis again
to see how this writer will be able to
compare the white missionaries to
McDonalds. . .

GOAL 2: How can you make media (visual especially) help you communicate ideas related to the prompt?

A. What media do you wish to use? Who is your partner?

B. What comparative approach will you use?

# 1: I will start with the novel, and apply it to my culture.
#2: I will start with my culture, and apply it to the novel .

C. Now, go to your graphic organizer and begin planning.


Now that you have a thesis to align your interests with the themes of our project, you need to write down some concrete goals for your project. These goals will include what parts of the book you will discuss and compare to your topic.
DO's and DON'T

--MUST Keep content age-appropriate. Get the radio-friendly version of lyrics if connecting to music

--Must use images that are not copyrighted (do not use images from Facebook< Tumblr, etc that belong to individuals...generate as much imagery yourself as possible)

--Each student = 3 complete parts, according to graphic organizer
Full transcript