Desire for social mobility

Now that you have developed a story about the artifact/event you want to understand more clearly as a result of your research this quarter I want you to think about the different theoretical or disciplinary lenses through which we can interpret the same artifact/event. Consider A Roman Engineer’s Tales. One’s take on the meaning of the same artifact in the case the cippus differs from others depending on the disciplinary/theoretical lens through which we view it; common labels can mask underlying semantic differences. This is because different underlying assumptions of what propels the story forward in time guides each research model. The engineering perspective for example derives meaning from the artifact based on the technical difficulties involved in its construction. The (post)imperialist perspective derives meaning from the sociopolitical context that motivates the artifact. The psychological perspective derives meaning from the identity and personal challenges of the artifact’s maker. This essay requires you reflect on the complex interrelationships among story theory and data. More specifically you ought to see just how difficult it is to generalize (analytically) from stories about artifacts/events; how any making of meaning requires a sound understanding the theory that informs that meaning; and how no “problem-solving” science occurs outside of the political struggle over competing definitions of the “public good.”

Consider your story: (a) Who or what is the central subject? In other words who is the protagonist? This need not be a living and breathing human being.

(b) When and where does the story begin? What event concludes the story?

(c) What happenings or events constitute the middle of the story? Put differently how do you parse continuous time into select chunks that the reader can experience as narrative progress?

(d) By what force(s) mechanism(s) and/or process(es) does the central subject move through time? In other words what propels the central subject forward?

Answering to this question is imperative. Once again consider how A Roman Engineer’s Tale answers the above questions: We might answer (a) with Nonius Datus or we might answer with the connection between technological hegemony and political/imperialist hegemony or we might answer with the role of engineering in the history of human progress. None of these answers is wrong but each views the same artifact through a different theoretical/disciplinary lens. To answer (b) we might begin with the engineering problem—how to reconnect two tunnels begun on opposites sides of a mountain after their paths have significantly diverged and end when the problem is solved. We might begin with the history of the colonization of Africa—begun by the Romans and continued by the French and stress that colonial politics are still in effect today. Or we might begin with the mixed raced identity of the engineer himself and his desire to achieve higher standing in the dominate culture and end with the complications of mixed heritage and social standing in current contexts. You can follow the pattern answering (c) but these decisions will inform the critical question (d). From an engineering perspective Nonius Datus simply seeks to solve an engineering problem. From the (post)imperialist perspective political dominance and exploitation provide the motivating force that drives the story forward. From the psychological perspective the desire for social mobility or personal recognition drives the protagonist to memorialize his accomplishment. Reconsider your answers to 3(a) and 3(d) for you own story. Your task now is to identify two distinct theoretical/disciplinary perspectives described in at least two peer-reviewed articles in order to (a) determine the causal phenomena; (b) determine the intervening or mediating phenomena; (c) determine the antecedent phenomena and to describe how these competing narratives “bounce off each other.” How do the two narratives tell different stories of the same artifact/event and how does our complex consideration expand our understanding of the topic? 1200 to 1500 words (not including bibliography) Submit in Canvas using the guidelines and date indicated in the syllabus. Requirements: Book Report | 5 pages Double spaced

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