COM 255 Cultural Assessment Term Project

COM 255 Cultural Assessment Term Project

In consultation with me you will select a cultural/identity group within the United States that you wish to learn more about.  You will select a film (short/documentary/narrative) via the Kanopy Database in BMCC Library that examines your cultural group.  Through the example of your selected film, you will engage in a Cultural Assessment Project by studying cultural patterns, structure, social issues and conflict pertaining to your selected film/culture (i.e., race, sexuality, gender, religion, ethnicity, class culture, ability, and so on).  This project should meet the 10 pgs. minimum requirement; it should be typed, double-spaced, following MLA style guidelines. 

Research Requirements for the Project:

In order to meet all the research requirements for the project you must include a minimum of 7 scholarly journals or books, all of which must be used in the development of the paper and cited appropriately.

You are responsible for completing additional readings and/or viewing of media materials (i.e. newspaper and magazine articles, television programs, films, etc.) as appropriate to gain knowledge of the cultural group you are studying, its practices, and its conflicts. (Note: when you use these materials in your paper, you must cite them). This research is in addition to the scholarly research requirement above.

Format for the Paper:

1) History: In your study of the history of your cultural group, you should include the following:

Give an overview of this group’s early history within the U.S. This might include why they came to the U.S. and how they were received when they arrived in the U.S.

Discuss at least one historical event that has shaped the position of your group within the larger U.S. culture and/or that has influenced the larger U.S. culture (i.e. slavery, the building of the railroads, World War I).

Discuss important contributions made by this cultural group to its own people or to larger U.S. culture (i.e., examples might include this such as novels that have shaped attitudes written by a cultural group’s member, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or political movements such as the Native American Movement, or contributions of important individuals such as Rosa Parks).

2) Communication Practices: Here you want to discuss the cultural styles of your group’s communication. This might include:

Interpersonal Communication, such as nonverbals, use of language, and conflict resolution style. You can use the framework of cultural patterns (from text and lecture) to discuss the communication patterns of your group.

Mediated communication, such as topics discussed in publications put out within that culture (i.e., newspapers, magazines, films). How do you see this culture represented in the media? What does your film point to? What issues are addressed in the film? Additionally, you might read issues of a magazine targeted for your cultural group, and “eavesdrop” on that intracultural communication. What issues are important to your culture? What do they talk about? In what ways? You might look at advertisements in publications of the cultural group so as to get insight into cultural beliefs and values, and the communication of those beliefs and values.

3) Cultural Conflict Analysis: In this section you will need to identify a social/political conflict that is presently occurring between your cultural group and another cultural group within the U.S. Again – the film that you watched/selected will have a broad context for this tension/conflict. This conflict should be one that generates enough publicity that you will be able to find media accounts of it (examples might include Ebonics, gay/lesbian marriages, gaming). It is vital in this section that you address both the your chosen group’s assessment of the conflict, and the other group’s assessment of the conflict. For example, if your culture is gays and lesbians, and the conflict is gays in the military, you need to analyze the conflict from the perspective of gays and lesbians and of, perhaps, straight members of the military. Questions to answer here include:

How is the problem being defined? What is the problem? (Do the two groups define conflict differently? Explain.)

Who is seen as responsible for the problem? (Do the different sides place blame in different ways? Explain).

What are the perceived causes of the conflict? (As explained by the different groups).

How have historical experiences of the different groups influenced the ways in which the problem is being perceived?

e) How have/do communication practices of both groups influence the development of the problem?

Throughout this section, you should be conscious of the forum in which the conflict is discussed so that you can try to understand the above questions from the perspective of members of your chosen cultural group and from other cultural groups and from larger U.S. society. Different groups are likely to perceive the conflict and its causes in different ways.

4) Cultural Conflict Resolution: This section discusses how the groups involved in the conflict suggest resolving the problem and how you suggest resolving it based on your knowledge of intercultural communication and of your cultural group. You should include:

Discussion and analysis of resolutions presented by your cultural group.

Discussion and analysis of resolutions presented by the other group involved in the conflict.

Your thoughts on how to resolve this conflict.

In this section it is important that you consider and discuss how culture, communication, context and power affect conflict resolution. This means that you cannot simply suggest that “the groups need to listen to each other.” You need to take into account the role of history, the similarities and differences in communication practices, and the aspects of culture, communication, context, and power in suggesting a possible resolution. In essence, what I am looking for in this section is a discussion of how our knowledge of intercultural communication can enable us to enact effective intercultural communication.

Grading Criteria for the Paper: Your paper will be graded on several dimensions including completeness (everything asked for is included in the paper), organization of ideas, clarity (how clearly are the ideas expressed), critical thinking (the paper goes beyond description of facts, and reflects your intellectual engagement with and analysis of concepts discussed in class or the text), and style (the chosen style is used consistently and correctly, the paper has been proofread for spelling and grammatical errors).