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Week 1: Culture and Politics

Week 1: Culture and Politics    

Introduction: Ideas of Power

And on the pedestal these words appear:   /   “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:   /   Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay   /   Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare   /   The lone and level sands stretch far away.
(Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”, 1818)

Power and ideas about that power have always gone hand in hand. As Shelley illustrated in his poem, sometimes the idea of that power (in his case, Ozymandias = Rameses II) will survive that very power, until all that remains is memory. But how is that memory transmitted over time? How is the extent of a country’s power and culture communicated throughout time and space? After an introductory text, we will be reading theories about cultural memory and soft power to begin our discussion.

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Guiding Discussion Questions:

  • What is Culture? What is Politics? Can you think about how they are intertwined?
  • What distinguishes cultural memory from regular and communicative memory?
  • What transmission mechanisms / media are you aware of?

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