Seminar Round-up #1: What is culture, anyway?


With four seminar groups running each week you’d expect the nature of the discussion to vary between each group. For this reason I will aim (if I have time) to write a short seminar round-up each week in the form of a 500(ish)-word blog post; not least to enter into the blog-writing spirit that forms part of this module.


Video Games and Star-Signs

My first task for everyone in the groups was to meet and greet their neighbour in class and find out some key, important data to report back to the group. This data consisted of: name; star-sign; favourite video game. Unfortunately I failed to record this data systematically, meaning that I’m currently unable to provide reliable statistics on the astrological range of participants. I can state that there did not seem to be a single Aquarian amongst those in attendance; there were also a disproportionate number of SIMS fans, many of whom seemed to be Geminis. It would be unscientific to draw conclusions at this early stage in the research.

Show and Tell / The Museum of Curious Objects

Since part of this module’s remit is to prepare you for life outside university, when you’ll be applying for jobs, internships or further study, it’s good practice to learn to speak in front of an audience or panel. It’ll help build your confidence! And it’s all about good storytelling.

So… to this end,  you are asked to bring an object to class one week, and tell us about it. Just two or three minutes. It could be a meaningful object from your childhood, or a random object with a story attached to it, or anything else that prompts you to tell a tale.  At the end of the module, all these storified objects will be curated into an exhibition –format yet to be decided.

Several of you have already bravely volunteered (with a little encouragement) to show and tell next week (w/c 6/2/17)…!

These are:

Tuesday, 12.10: Alyssa and Vicky

Tuesday, 3.10: Jasper and Dimana

Wednesday, 9am: Sean

Wednesday, 10am: Temi and Alice

Clearly, this promises to be VERY exciting.

By the way – if you have a strong resistance to showing and telling in class, or will feel overly self-conscious/anxious about it, you might prefer to do something different, or present as part of a pair – let me know if this is the case.

Discussion: What IS culture anyway?

This week’s key questions were: what are the pros and cons of thinking about culture and creativity as ‘industries’? And beyond that, what IS culture, anyway? We thought about ‘culture’ as lying somewhere between ‘the aesthetic’ and ‘the anthropological’ – but found that these categories weren’t necessarily distinct.

Some of the ideas discussed included culture as national identity; ‘high’ and ‘low’ aesthetic culture; hip hop (rapping, mixing, breakdancing and graffiti) as original remix culture; what does it mean to be ‘cultured’ and have ‘cultural capital’ – both personally and collectively (nationally).

One group disputed whether or not ballet and going-to-the-pub-on-Christmas-Eve constituted British culture… the debate continues.

Oh, and we also thought about ballet. Clips are below.

Until next time…!