Thinking across Cultures

By Donald M. Topping; Doris C. Crowell et al. | Go to book overview

3
Fiction as a Tool for Cross-Cultural Thinking and Teaching: A Case Study of the Work of Ursula K. LeGuin

Michael D. Palmer

Brigham Young University, Hawaii Campus

"Thinking" in phrases like "thinking across cultures" has often meant almost entirely analytic thinking. But analytic thought alone often obscures the organic wholeness of living cultures as they appear when perceived from within, and results in ethnocentric caricatures of them.

But if analytic thinking is a limited tool, what are the other tools that can complement it? The work of Ursula K. LeGuin is instructive on at least two different levels in the search for thought tools. First, she is interested in the problems of cultures meeting, individual personality and its relationship to culture, and cultural possibilities. Many of the voices of the characters that appear in her works directly offer cogent insights to many specific issues in cross-cultural understanding. Second, by choosing fiction rather than analytic discourse as the vehicle for these discussions, she is able to create something that goes beyond the skeletal portraits of culture.

The daughter of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, LeGuin has, since 1961, published over 20 books, mostly novels, but also some short stories and some poetry. But rather than being limited by the conventions of these genre, she has found a way to go beyond, offering readers something that could be described perhaps as "fictional anthropology."

Short summaries of several of her major novels might be the easiest way to sense the flavor of her work. In The Left Hand of Darkness ( 1969) an anthropologist/ambassador visits a planet whose inhabitants are androgynous, undergoing a monthly cycle in which they alternate between male and female. In that setting, the visitor examines the personal, social, and political arrangements that have evolved. In The Dispossessed ( 1974), LeGuin portrays two cultures that have separated, a class-oriented society on a rich fertile planet and some followers of a form of organic anarchism who have chosen a volun-

-27-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Thinking across Cultures
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 506

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.