Micro Themes

What Is Decadence?

Elisa Glick: English 4970

Problem: Both despised and adored, the project of decadence has been called profane, evil, mad, enervated, and degenerate by its detractors and sensuous, expressive, refined, and mystical by its advocates. How might we account for these radically different interpretations of decadence?

Your Task: Analyze and interpret ONE of the following essays: Max Nordau’s “Decadents and Aesthetes” (in Degeneration), Arthur Symons’s “The Decadent Movement in Literature,” or Walter Pater’s conclusion to The Renaissance. Write a close reading that addresses the following questions: What is literary and aesthetic decadence? How does the author define decadent style? What are the politics of decadent art?

Goal: The goals of this assignment are: to encourage critical thinking about decadent expressions and definitions; to develop a working knowledge of decadent arguments and counter-arguments; and to promote analysis of the political implications of aesthetic strategies.

Audience: Please address the paper to a general audience, not to me. Imagine that the reader is interested in your question or problem but has no advanced knowledge or expertise.

Format: Your paper should be 1 page, single-spaced. Use the Modern Language Association (MLA) format for in-text citations.

Grading Criteria: This is an informal writing exercise, which means that my primary focus will not be on mechanics and organization, but rather on the quality of your ideas (range and depth of argument; original thought; engagement with the complexity of the topic; awareness of opposing views).


The Impact of Biological Lag on a Specific Food Product

Georgeanne Artz: Agricultural Economics 2183

The goal of this assignment is learn about the impact of biological lag on your specific food product.

You have just been hired by the processor of your product (from Short Topic 2) as a procurement specialist. Your job is to coordinate purchases of the commodity relating to the product category you have chosen. For example, if your product category is “Sugar and Sweeteners,” your commodity would be sugar. (Since sugar can be processed from sugar cane or sugar beets, you should choose just one to describe.) If your product category is canned vegetables, your commodity would be the specific vegetable you chose, i.e., peas or sweet corn. (If you have questions about what your commodity should be, please ask.) The CEO of the company is worried about rumors of an impending shortage of your commodity and asked you to prepare an outlook report on the commodity’s production.

The agricultural production and marketing system is different from many non-agricultural production and marketing systems because of the biological lag factor. To understand the impact of the biological lag, you need to know something about how the commodity is produced and how it is used (who are your competitors in procurement).

  1. How, when and where is the commodity typically produced? You do not need to describe the production process in detail (first, the seed is planted, etc.) Focus on the aspects of production that are unique and/or impact supply. How long does it generally take to produce the commodity (for example, wheat is grown in roughly 4 months, planted and harvested once (or twice) per year, but wheat seasons vary with geography (Because the southern Hemisphere has opposite growing seasons than the Northern Hemisphere, Australia harvests their wheat crop at a different time than the US). Milk is produced continually throughout the year, but it would take time to expand herd size. Commodities like grapes, oranges, nuts require a fairly long start-up time (several years, but then are harvested annually). Where is the majority of the commodity produced (both domestically and internationally)? Is it fairly concentrated, or relatively dispersed geographically? How many producers are there?
  2. What impact does biological lag have on your commodity prices (e.g. how quickly can supply react to price changes)? What other characteristics about your commodity—in a production, process, or transportation sense—impact price changes (e.g. how perishable is it, is it costly to transport to market, costly to store, etc.)?
  3. What are the major markets for your commodity? In other words, who buys it? What is made from the commodity (i.e., for vegetables, there might be a fresh, frozen, canned and processing market.) Where does most of the production go?
  4. Given your research, what is your assessment of the rumors about a supply shortage?

To support your research and convey a lot of information clearly and concisely you need illustrations (Graphs, Charts, etc.). You should include charts describing production (#1 and #2), use (#3), and changes in price for your commodity (#2).

Only MS Word attachments will be accepted. Be sure to document your sources. Your report should be roughly 2 pages, NOT including supporting chart and tables. Some examples are provided below. Please name your file Lastname_FirstInitial_ST3 – for example, my assignment would be Artz_G_ST3.

Potentially useful websites (you don’t have to use all of them – they are here to help you get started). You might start with the USDA Briefing Room for your commodity.


Anthropology 4990 Essays

Lisa Satenspiel, Instructor

Essay #1: Science and interpretation in anthropology

Write no more than 2-3 double-spaced, typed pages on the following question. If you can answer the question completely in less space, that is fine; if you feel like you need more try to shorten what you have written so that only the most important issues are considered. Proofread your paper carefully — excessive spelling and typographic errors may count against you. Make sure you properly cite within the text all sources you have used, and include full citations in the bibliography. Do not include articles in the bibliography that you have not cited in the text.

You are interested in studying some type of ritual in a culture of your choice. Use 1-2 sentences to briefly describe this ritual. Formulate and describe one specific research question that you would try to address in this project. Which of the three approaches to anthropology we discussed in class (scientific, interpretive, or postmodern) would you take in your study? Explain why you would take this approach and discuss in some detail both the advantages and disadvantages of using that approach to answer your question. Note: an argument that talks only about your chosen approach will not be as strong as one that also addresses why other approaches would not be as effective or suitable as the one you have chosen.

Essay #2 — Myth and ritual in ancient societies

In his paper “Science and the construction of mythic narratives”, Thompson argues that interpretations of the past say as much about the interpreter as they do about the interpreted. Tringham and Conkey argue much the same way in their discussion of different views of female figurines from the European Upper Paleolithic. Describe two examples of writing within the Malone article that could be construed as narratives reflecting the interpreters (authors) rather than the data. In the article as a whole, how much do you think the text reflects the authors’ biases and how much reflects factual description of the material remains? Justify your reasoning using insights from the articles assigned for this topic and illustrate with concrete examples from the Malone article.

Essay #3 — Food in human cultures past and present

Choose one real or imaginary human culture of the past or present. Briefly describe the major characteristics of the diet of that culture. Choose three of the following individuals: a) a cultural anthropologist specializing in ecological anthropology or a cultural anthropologist specializing in political or economic anthropology, b) a biological anthropologist specializing in human evolution or a biological anthropologist specializing in human biology, c) an archaeologist, d) an epidemiologist, e) a dietitian. Describe ways each of your three researchers might choose to study food and nutrition in your culture. Make sure you link your suggested studies to characteristics of the diet as you have described it, and also explain why you think these researchers would study food the ways you have indicated.

Essay #4 — Ethics in Anthropology

Choose one of ethics topics we discussed in class (working with human subjects; bioarchaeological ethics; or the Human Genome Project). Describe what you think are the major ethical issues associated with your chosen topic and discuss how anthropologists and other scientists have attempted to deal with these issues. Finally, comment on how you would approach each of the issues you have identified if faced with them and explain why you would take those approaches.

Essay #5 — Climate change and human activities

Imagine that we are facing a major evolutionary shift similar in scale to the changes that occurred during the australopithecine-Homo split (in other words, we are actively evolving to what future anthropologists will recognize as a new species or genus). Use concepts and ideas from each of the articles we are reading in this topic to discuss how the characteristics of and potential shifts in our present climate might influence the direction of evolution and environmental adaptations of our immediate descendants.