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Entertainment, Art or Contemporary

Select one of the following prompts and write an essay in response.

1. Walter Benjamin argues in “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” that reproducibility can make art more democratic. Theodor Adorno, however, claims that the culture industry maintains control of modern arts and entertainment. Using a contemporary example from arts or entertainment, write an essay that takes up a stance on this issue and cites both authors.

2. T. S. Eliot makes a prescriptive argument that authors should create works in a depersonalized fashion. Michel Foucault on the other hand describes various ways that society makes use of the figure of the author in its assessment of works. Select a specific contemporary piece of art or entertainment in which you can identify some attempt by the author at depersonalization and develop an argument that explains both the apparent intention of the author and its external effects.

3. According to Bridget Watson Payne, art can open us up to reflection on the categories of the world, others, and the self. Roland Barthes contends that the meaning of any work is best identified through the cultural codes and discourses it makes use of. Select a contemporary piece of art or entertainment and write an essay that identifies the discourses and cultural sources that influence it using Payne’s ideas to categorize them.

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