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Cultural Identity Assignment #3: Testing a Theory

Family organization, language, and religious beliefs influence the ideas and values expressed through art and literature in and across various communities. The texts we’ve been discussing in class offer different accounts of how these factors influence cultural expression and interaction. Your task in this assignment is to use either Hall’s theory of “cultural production” or Pratt’s theory of “contact zones” to compare two of the literary texts we have discussed in class.

Audience: Scholars interested in cultural identity, including Stuart Hall and Mary Louise Pratt

Format: 1200 words (4-5 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best essays will provide a thorough summary of either Hall’s theory of cultural production or Pratt’s theory of contact zones using summary, paraphrase and quotation; explain how the theory applies to each of the literary texts under analysis; and anticipate counter-arguments. You should be able to describe the relationship you see between the literary texts in one focused sentence.


Type: Use a secondary source as a lens to analyze a primary source, and support your thesis with evidence

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to give students practice summarizing, paraphrasing and otherwise engaging theories of cultural identity. Students apply their understanding of others’ ideas to fictional texts rather than to their own lives in preparation for the culminating research paper.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Annotation and analysis of Pratt’s and Hall’s essays
  2. Practice with framing quotations in order to apply other’s ideas to student’s own
  3. Developing and reinforcing thesis statements through structure, analysis, reflection and consideration of counter-arguments
  4. Practicing in-text citations and formatting entries for a Works Cited page
  5. Outlining/Planning a comparative analysis

CulturalIdentity_Assignment3 (doc)

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