Culture Gap

This week I found myself in communication with three Algerian students, currently attending university in Algeria. My contact with them regards a joint project that I will be completing with them, their team working from Algeria and my time (myself and two others) working from America. Our goal once we are finished is to examine the cultural gaps and differences and how those differences affect our work as a team. Upon opening my first email from the Algerian team, I found that the names of these people were completely, for lack of better words, foreign to me. I was unable to decipher which of the Algerian students were male and female. While communicating with the leader of the Algerian team, I found myself automatically assuming them to be male. As we have not video-conferenced with them yet I had absolutely no idea the sex of this person, but in my mind had already assigned to them a major piece of their identity. This struck me immediately. I had knowingly, walked into this relationship with these three Algerians, understanding that they come from a more sexist culture than I had. I weighed the overt sexims that exists in Algeria, over the covert sexism that is experienced in American society, sexism that I found myself contributing to.

Contentless Cover Art

The television show, The Magicians, follows a group of adults with magical powers unknown to the mainstream world in which they have always lived. The cover art for this show depicts a female lying horizontally in the air, almost as if she had been thrown into this position by a strong force. This woman is dressed in an extremely short skirt and shirt. The woman’s outfit and positioning gives this image a slightly sexual undertone, regardless from the fact that the show is not very sexual in its nature. Another reason this coverart does not make much sense, is the fact that the main character of the show is not this female, or any female at all, rather the storyline follow, primarily, a male magician. It seems to be that the placement of the woman in this image, while inconsistent with the context of the television show, was not done accidentally. Beauty and sex are two of the most coveted things in society today. By creating cover art for a product, in this case a television show, that depicts one of these two things, the creators can ensure some sort of traffic surrounding their product. The woman on the cover of this TV show advertisement may have very little to do with the show, but as long as people like the aesthetic presented and click on the photography, then the creators goal is reached.

BED #5

This photo shows the edge of Lafayette Square, where a group of students all sitting in black sat on the front steps of a private building. This group sat on the steps for about thirty minutes before they all got up at once and started walking in the direction of the White House. Whether this was a tour or a protest of some sort, I found the meeting place to be significant. Not only did they all meet directly across from the Square, but they sat and stayed in those positions for quite a while.

BED #4

This photograph plays into many different aspects of Lafayette Square as a whole. Initially, I noticed the divide that the Square created in the geographical layout of the city. The Square serves to somewhat separate the political buildings from the more business oriented sector of the city. While this divide is not finite, it is definitely present. Another interesting thing I noticed about the park that can be found in the photograph is the amount of the park that is fenced off from the public. Many grass-covered areas or benches where fenced off from the general public, creating an environment where it would feel more natural to ‘walk through’ than to ‘linger’. This made the area seem less like that of a park and more like something to view.

BED #3

The second monument in honor of the revolutionary, Lafayette, stands in the middle of the square, enclosed inside of a fenced off, grass circle. Visitors cannot get as close to this monument as they can to his other statue, which they can climb on and touch. Unlike, the first monument, this was put in place in in the 1900s, 1924 exactly. This statue stays in line with the Washington Monument, which is visible directly behind the statue in this photograph. The enclosed nature of the statue as well as the placement in the square and in accordance to the Washington Monument gives this statue a more centric, important and historic feel.

BED #2

This statue, situated at the corner of the park, farthest from the White House and National Mall, depicts an image of Marquis de Lafayette, a key actor in both the American Revolutionary War as well as the French revolution of 1789. The respected revolutionary’s honorary statue was created in 1891. This was the first of two statues that would be created in his honor in Lafayette Square. This statue sits at the corner of the square, serving as somewhat of an entry mark to the park. It seemed the most natural way of walking in or out of the square involved passing by the large monument. The sculpture is also very hard to miss from the street in front of it. In passing, the first thing the eye is drawn to is the statue. This, matched with the powerful, stance of conquest that the statue of Lafayette displays, marks the square as seemingly more important or honorary than any other park or square.

 

BED #1

This photograph taken at Lafayette Square, shows a group of of young girls seated on a bench. Next to this group of females is a black homeless male, laying horizontally on another bench, presumably trying to sleep. On one hand teenagers can be found looking to find a nice place to sip their starbucks lattes, where on the other, a man tries to find somewhere to sleep because he has no home of his own. This side-by-side imagery captured the spectrum of people that can be found in Lafayette square in very close proximity. This disparity was heightened with the fact that this space shares a city block with the White Hous

Annotated Bibliography #1

 

Source 1:

“Lafayette Square, Washington, DC.” GSA Home,

www.gsa.gov/portal/content/214547.

In the U.S General Service Administration’s article on Lafayette Square in Washington DC, the GSA provides a detailed history of the park from its construction to present day. Additionally, this article notes the disparity between the historical uses of the park and the way that the park is used today. The article is written chronologically, beginning with the original use of the park in the 1700’s. These uses included a family graveyard, a zoo and a slave market among other things. The article then goes on to note the specific changes that certain presidents made to the square of the surrounding area. For example, President Thomas Jefferson who fenced off the square during his time in office. The article then takes us into the 1800’s and the rise of the square’s status, describing the area around the square and the way in which it was built up throughout the century. The status of those who lived around the square and the reputation of the area continued to rise. The article later describes the architects involved in making the square what it is today, as well as the stop put on the construction around the square due to its proximity to the white house.

I plan to use this source as a solid background source throughout my project. The article gives me a clear, chronological look on the timeline of Lafayette Square. This source also touches on external factors that have influenced the square throughout history, which will hopefully be useful when creating my project. Another aspect of this source that will most likely serve to help me when creating my project is the fact that it is relatively unbiased. The government nature of the site in which this article is posted leads me to believe that the piece is mostly fact based. Overall, I intend to use this article and what I learned while reading this article as a basis of information regarding the square as well as a good jumping off point.

Source 2:

Godfrey, Sarah. “Lafayette Park Is No Longer a Home for the Homeless – City Paper.”Lafayette Park

Is No Longer a Home for the Homeless – City Paper, 6 Aug. 2004,

www.prop1.org/history/2004/040806.dccitypaper.lafayettepark.Abandon%20Quip.htm.

The article, Lafayette Park is no Longer for the Homeless, by Sarah Godfrey, serves to illustrate the numerous ways in which past presidents have manipulated the square, in regards to homelessness, to fit their agenda. This piece, Godfrey examines the ways in which presidential nominees and presidents themselves used the well known homelessness in the square to their advantage, all the while the level of homelessness not changing. Godfrey goes on to highlight the image of inequality in America that the square exemplifies. For example, Godfrey notes the distance from the White House to the square, highlighting the difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Godfrey further explains how the proximity of the most powerful, elevated place in the country to a square full of homeless people shows two opposite ends of the American socioeconomic spectrum.

I will most likely use this article when incorporating elements of demographic into my project. The different types of people that inhabit an area have a lot of influence over that area. This being said, if those inhabiting Lafayette Square differ greatly from those surrounding the square, it will be worth noting in my environmental analysis. I also like the way that this article brings up the bigger idea of the socioeconomic gap that is so prevalent in America today. I will hopefully incorporate this idea into my project in some way.

 

The Onion: Home To The Most Detail-Oriented Journalism

Possibly the nation’s most followed satirical new source, The Onion, a large producer of faux-news with a humorous twist. Whether this news is politically based or a small article on a funny photo found online, the paper does well to add sarcastic, hard-hitting commentary to its pieces. This piece in particular labeled, “Cryptic New Laundry Room Rule Hints At Tale Of Bizarre Infraction”, proceeds a photo of a sign above a laundry machine that states, “Dryers are for clothes ONLY”. This sign clearly leaves the viewer wondering what someone had put in the dryer to warrant such a notice.

What strikes me about the articles posted on The Onion website, this article specifically, is the diction used in the titles. The author avoids the word ‘a’ at three separate times in the title of this news report. Initially, while reading the title the first time I noticed the absence of small words that would have made the title less choppy, resembling more of a fluid sentence. My second immediate thought was that this sentence structure exactly mimicked that of an article one might find on CNN.com, BBC.com or Fox News. While I have always noticed the sentence structure of the articles on this sight was aimed at mimicking larger, legitimate news sources, I had never realized the level of detail that the authors used while composing these articles. Even something as simple as leaving out a one letter word, completely changes not only the tone of the title, but gives it a more legitimate sound, only adding to the humorous aspect of the sight as a whole.

The Side-Effects of Homogeneous Politics

In part one, section three of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, Fleming discusses the neighborhood community as a political tool. Fleming begins this section on the neighborhood by defining said space as, “A smaller democracy, where ordinary individuals can engage in person, in public judgement and decision making, where politics can be the everyday literal enactment of every citizen’s freedom and equality”(43). In this, Fleming adds a non-spacial piece to the definition of a neighborhood, defining it as a place where, on a small scale, the purest form of the democratic process is carried out. Fleming notes that the most civically active neighborhoods and communities are those that fall on the smaller side, population wise. Along with this purity and followed sense of political duty, Fleming states, is the common criticism of the politics done in these neighborhoods. This criticism being that smaller communities that practice their democratic rights through local politics tend to be very homogeneous in their political views.

Fleming introduces an interesting side effect of this homogeneity: the loss of true individual freedom in the democratic process. Fleming notes another side effect of political homogeneity, the lack of “ conflict needed for genuine political engagement” (48). To me, this lack of conflict negates some positive aspects of such an involved democracy, limiting the neighborhoods potential for diversity or progression.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 2009.