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What does conspicuous leisure look like nowadays?

At the end of the 19th century, a sociologist named Thorstein Veblen argued that privileged people flaunt their wealth in three ways: conspicuous consumption (showing that they can afford to buy products); conspicuous leisure (showing that they can afford to waste time); and conspicuous waste (showing that they can afford to throw things away). Recently, conspicuous consumption and conspicuous waste have lost a lot of their worth as status symbols because goods have become more affordable and both practices are associated with environmental destruction, but conspicuous leisure (which can entail anything from sitting around and doing nothing to lavish vacations to memorizing pointless social rules and regulations) doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma. Classically, conspicuous leisure was embodied in an aristocrat who sits around in a large mansion and looks down on people who perform manual labor, but what are some modern equivalents, either in real life or in our media?

  • In my opinion, something that complicates the issue of what conspicuous leisure looks like nowadays is the idea of self-care. Individuals engage in activities that, in previous generations, would have been considered "leisure": video games, social media, even long bubble baths. Many of those who spend time practicing self-care would claim that such activities are not wasting time because it is helping them to relax and recharge in order to be rested enough to resume productivity. As someone who is a bit skeptical of many things labeled as "self-care," I have noticed that even people who claim their "self-care" is not wasting time still complain about not being energized enough for work or socialization, so is their leisure time really all that productive? I don't think so. I still would claim that the activities I mentioned, as well as other activities such as movie-watching and lazing around the house, are common types of conspicuous leisure nowadays. – rachelwitzig 5 months ago
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  • That's actually an interesting point; I hadn't thought about the connection between conspicuous leisure and self-care, but you might be right. People claim that self-care preserves their mental health, but the "self-care" they prefer tends to consist mostly of their favorite hobbies (some of which, like watching TV or playing video games, are neutral or even net negatives for mental health), and rarely something with any clear connection to improving mental health (i.e., CBT, religious services, joining a volunteer organization, etc.). – Debs 5 months ago
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  • I think in the modern world where we view everybody's lives through the lense of social media it's a persistent idea in many minds. The idea that everybody is living their best life and basking in the sun, strolling through cities and generally enjoying their time in a leisurely fashion is often a misconception for a lot of the social examples. In a world rife with social media influencers it would be interesting to weigh up both sides of the digital frame and see it from the "consumer" perspective as well as those posting online and the work that goes into it. – CAntonyBaker 2 months ago
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Supporting problematic artists

Many celebrated artists have been involved in scandals or socially problematic situations. From today’s Chris Brown to the deceased David Foster Wallace, many popular artists of their trade have been tangled up in scandals and/or crimes. Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Is it possible to celebrate someone’s work without supporting the artist, too?

  • A very timely topic. I think it's important to define what problematic means. It seems certain celebrities are "cancelled" for comparably minor offences compared to what is swept under the rug for others. There's also a difference between modern scandals that are known to be problematic as they occur, and generations past who do things that we now today see as problematic but were not considered so at the time. – Erin McIntyre 5 months ago
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  • I would argue that it is possible, especially if the artist in question is no longer alive. If you're simply reading (or watching or listening to) the work of someone who's dead, then they can't get any benefit from it. In that case, I'd argue, separating the artist from the work is a fairly straightforward process. Where it gets complicated is where the artist is still alive, and your purchasing the work would be rewarding their efforts (or lack thereof). – Debs 5 months ago
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  • I absolutely love this topic, and it's a discussion that I have often. Personally, I choose not to support artists, dead or alive, who have been tangled up in any crimes or scandals (although, Debs's comment above about the dead not necessarily gaining anything is quite insightful). I think that the tricky part with this conversation and the reason why I always opt for not supporting the artist or their work because I think that no matter the person, their actions need to be held accountable – sabinaramroop 5 months ago
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  • "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." Albert Einstein – AntonioFarfanFiorani 4 months ago
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Taken by BookieRheaWookie (PM) 2 months ago.
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Should Conventional Theater Change to Accommodate Diverse Actors?

Musical theater is a huge and well-loved medium, and in recent years has given us some cutting-edge hits (Legally Blonde, Wicked, Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, etc.) Yet there are some accepted "rules" of theater culture that still feel like stereotypes or "boxing in" actors. For instance: sopranos get the leads; mezzos and altos play "witches and britches." Tenors play romantic leads; basses play villains. Actresses past the age of 30 can expect to play mothers and grandmothers, but not love interests for their own sake. If you are a white male, you cannot convincingly play a male or female of any color (although I have conversely seen white women tapped to play WOCs). Actors with disabilities can only really expect casting in disabled roles.

Most theater aficionados will tell you there are solid reasons behind this thinking, even truth. Then again, in 2019, should conventional theater change more to suit the needs and desires of actors? Could or should a musical be written to give an ingenue role to an alto or a hero role to a bass? Is it pushing the envelope to allow actors of certain orientations to play outside of them, or for a white actor to play a POC (outside of a historical context)? In short, what would and should truly "diverse," "inclusive" theater look like?

  • I think that, in some respects, it's easier for theatre to accommodate diversity than other media because, moreso than in any other medium, any actor who's qualified can take a particular role regardless of race, gender, or background. This is especially true of school performances, which have to work with the available students. I've seen a rendition of one of Shakespeare's history plays that featured Black actors, for example; and on YouTube I've found versions of Little Shop of Horrors where Seymour was biracial and the dentist was Asian. I've even found a theatrical version of the Screwtape Letters where Screwtape was played (really expertly, I might add) by a woman. – Debs 3 months ago
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  • Hi, Debs,That sounds really cool. I'm glad your theater experience was more inclusive than mine. My schools (high and college) had GREAT theater programs I so wanted to be a part of. But, esp. in the case of my high school director, I was not given that chance and I think it was because of cerebral palsy (couldn't prove it, and if I'd said something it would've been, "Oh, you just think everybody's picking on you.") But the truth was, even after calling my acting phenomenal on more than one occasion, that director in particular would only assign me chorus or walk-on roles. The justification was, "Well, the leads have to dance," but chorus lines are basically there to *dance*, at least in my productions. There were other examples of non-diversity there too, such as the lead *always* went to a first soprano--and the year it went to a mezzo, of course, I wasn't in the running. But, this director was *also* willing to cast a white girl as a Hispanic lead (but not a girl of color as a white lead) ??????Anyway, it's only been recently that I realized the full lack of inclusivity and diversity in the world at large and the theater world, so...there you go. Again, we need more stories like yours. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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The Need for School System Change

Analyse how schools should upgrade their current material to better prepare students for the modern world. May include a change in curriculum, how social media is/may be taught to them, security control, etc.

  • Thank you for the recommendations! I meant more academic focus, so instead of algebra, living environment, and history, more diverse, modern courses. – Yvonne T. 9 months ago
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  • I'd say the system should change its focus from past literature and writing, such as Shakespeare material, to more modern writing (perhaps much more modern books). It is evident that times have changed, and the current system is outdated. – Yvonne T. 9 months ago
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  • I have an education degree to teach high school in the U.S., and I purposefully steered away from this career path because of the lack of progressive initiative taken in updating the curriculum and teaching methods. I think the desire is present among educators (which would be important to examine for this topic), but the structural and economic factors would need to be addressed. My specialization is in English, so I shy away from the idea of forgoing classic texts and writing practices entirely, but there are certainly better approaches to incorporate more modern writing and modes of composition. Universities seem to be taking the steps more quickly, but grade schools need more attention to prepare those who may not pursue a college degree. I think a modernized curriculum could create more life-long readers and writers as well as more well-rounded and driven students that are culturally aware and capable of higher levels of critical thought. I hope this topic is expanded is and explored thoroughly! – Aaron 7 months ago
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  • This is a really interesting topic to talk about. Usually, high school students/secondary students always ask the dreading question of 'Why do I have to learn this stuff, what am I going to do with it in the future?' Some subjects they're referring to could be subjects they think are 'useless' such as English ONLY because of the period of writing that is taught in schools. I agree 100% that the school curriculum needs to become modernised. Taking the subject of 'English' for example, it would be wise to expand on more modern forms and styles of writing such as the difference in language when texting, when socialising with different groups of people such as parents, friends or even royals! In the UK, there are PSHCE (Physical, Social, Health, Citizenship Education) lessons taught which involves having open discussions about crime, drugs, social media, bullying and safe sex. But it would be interesting to see a developed curriculum which introduces the need for independence and originality which is required in the working world. Some ideas that could be explored could be the secret business world and networking events to encourage students to engage in activities they genuinely enjoy and are interested in, rather than sitting in class, wasting time and being forced to answer a dull, repetitive Shakespeare question. I really like this topic and hope someone writes an article on it! – JAbida 6 months ago
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  • Super interesting topic! Personally, I think that home economics should be re-introduced in school curriculum; common skills like cooking, balancing a checkbook, appropriating finances, and taking care of clothing seem to be becoming more obsolete. As for courses such as composition, spelling, and reading, I actually think that we may benefit by going back in history; I've dabbled in some research of 19th century textbooks, and the level of rigor that they require of students puts our school systems to shame. In addition, many of them (such as Murray's 1827 "The English Reader," Goodrich's 1839 "Third Reader for the Use of Schools," and Sanders' 1862 "High School Reader") stress the teaching of virtue, morality, and piety. Students rise or fall to our expectations; if we structure our curricula to emphasize true knowledge-building and to encourage virtue and morality, our students will grow both in knowledge and in character. Modernizing a curriculum to include the most up-to-date scientific information, to reflect our current governmental or political system, and to extend history's timeline closer to the present could all be beneficial—however, the only changes that will be truly timeless are to cultivate an appreciation of knowledge and a love for virtue. – katiemartin 2 months ago
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Folk arts of India: production of cultural expressiveness

Through a study of different tangible folk art forms, this article will examine how it preserves and showcases the cultural diversity of India

  • It would be worth including a few examples with your topic suggestion, as I'm sure you have some in mind. This is not meant as a criticism. I dare say there are many at the Artifice who couldn't even name a single Indian poet, painter, writer, film maker - let alone have knowledge of Indian folk arts. In the right hands, this could make for a fascinating article though. – Amyus 3 months ago
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  • Indian-American Pulitzer Prize author Jhumpa Lahiri Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. – L:Freire 3 months ago
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Taken by ajaymanuel (PM) 2 weeks ago.
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Algorithms and activist-communities

I’m really interested in the barriers that algorithms may put up on social media in terms of finding like-minded communities, particularly around social justice and activism. Does the use of the algorithm and other tools like shadow-banning limit who is allowed to speak out and be seen within social media, and what impact might that have in our society? Who runs into these hurdles more than others, and why?

  • I think YouTube would be interesting to look at for this topic, as the independent political creators over there have had issues with this happening. – Emily Deibler 4 months ago
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The Importance of Rosalia's Music in Modernising Traditional Flamenco

Rosalia has undoubtedly become one of 2019’s biggest rising stars in the music industry. However, what is even more interesting is her ability to modernise the traditional Spanish music styles of Flamenco and bring them to a contemporary audience. It is important not only for the continuation of this culture but for representation of Spanish culture internationally.

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    History of popular progressive topics and ideas

    Modern progressive activists often act as if the causes they support are radically new. However, most of them go back decades, and some have been around for centuries in one form or another. One well-known example of this is the drive to expose the genocide of Native Americans. In modern times, this takes the form of protests over the use of Native American lands, or why we celebrate certain public holidays. However, references to the dispossession and abuse of Native Americans have appeared in the literature at least since the 1800’s (including a reference in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). Another example is the term "intersectionality" itself, which was invented in the 1980’s but didn’t achieve widespread usage until the past few years. Just how far back do the various progressive concepts and causes go–and, by extension, if they’ve been with us for so long how come change hasn’t come faster?