American Studies Discussion 2
In English 1103, we discussed and practiced the contextualization of historical artifacts. Contextualization plays an important role in the class, especially through our analysis of the built environments of Atlanta and the architecture, artwork, or other cultural artifacts of a people. The practice is also necessary for our readings in American Literature, where the perspective of a text determines our approach to its claims. Columbus harbored immense prejudice for the “savages” he encountered in the New World, and with the king as his audience and gold and glory his lofty aspirations, there is an evident attempt to deify his interaction with foreign peoples and lands. Contextualization also explains the hypocrisy conveyed by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Although he owned slaves and fathered a black daughter, he condemns the practice of slavery in America. However, at this time, slavery was considered a necessary evil by Jefferson and his counterparts, and there was no effort to garner their freedom. Ultimately, we learned to better analyze the biases of an author or the cultural paradigms of an era to understand context and validity of a text.