Popular Culture

Your task is as follows:   If we believe Liu’s thesis, that 21st century America –by dint of its diversity and the appropriation of digital realms for cultural commentary –will disavow one man who defines ‘cultural literacy’, then we must work as omni-Americans to collectively define the boundaries of cultural literacies.   This isn’t easy work. We’re all different, and what’s popular today will be left behind tomorrow, mere detritus in the vast floating jetsam that is popular culture. Still, some things endure in our culture. If Hirsch laid the foundation for it some 30 years ago, and we-all have the means to update that list today, what does a revised list look like?   As part of your response, I want you to clearly understand the implications Liu makes in his article, but I also want you to reference entries from Hirsch’s work; the latter might be items that you’d replace, or that you’d keep, or that you think could be a one-for-one swap for a ‘thing’ from our culture that better defines literacy today.   Allow me an example: “wireless” is not an entry in Hirsch’s book. It could have been, because prior to the 1920s, people called radio ‘wireless’. It has other applications, too: garage door openers, deep-space communications, cordless telephones, etc., are all wireless. But with the rise of cellular technology in the 1990s, the term wireless was revived. One could make a fairly convincing argument (albeit using Liu’s directives as well as the other pundits we’ve read this semester) that that’s one possible update for the list.   So, in short, applying Liu’s conceptual framework for an updated list, and using Hirsch’s list as a starting point, how do you go about facilitating that list? What does it now include? And why have you included those items?

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