Culture and Autobiography – Lecture

Introduction

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Aspects of culture that are usually included in autobiographies or personal histories are family structures, and perhaps educational achievements, or maybe some family recipes.

Other items of culture, which might be added are laws, regulations, or rules that govern the society one belongs to.  Such cultural components are important because it gives the reader an idea of behaviors and attitudes of the writer, and others in his/her story.

Cultural Components

Other interesting aspects of culture are belief systems – but not just religious beliefs.  Most people have a philosophy that they live by and convictions that make them unique and different from everyone else.

Ancestors are also important to some people and to some societies.  Carrying on ancestral traditions, celebrations, or names may be very important, for many different reasons.  Many people “believe” in myths and legends that have guided them in daily activities.  Political views are also essential to write about in order to get to know more deeply the individual leaving behind the personal history for others to read.  These things are important because we are molded and shaped continually over our lifetime, not just in our childhood or adolescence.

Details

Real details about tools that are used and skills acquired to use those tools are also important.  Readers of personal histories need to know how basic human needs were acquired.  Specific information on foods eaten, recipes created, clothing styles and trends, material goods (culture) that were or were not necessary are important.  What about entertainment interests, games or hobby trends of the day?  So many aspects of life are closely linked to the economic status of the person writing the history.  For this reason, economic aspects of culture should be examined and written in depth and detail about, so the reader can actually imagine and picture the life of the person.

Get Organized Before Starting
on Your Cultural History Project

One more thing . . . cultural aspects of countries, communities, or individuals do not exist in a vacuum, or in isolation.  They are all interrelated parts of the whole of the individual; and each influences the other.  When a person travels and is affected by the many processes of globalization, his/her own worldview does not remain static.  It becomes dynamic, and this dynamism should be discussed and exhibited in the writing of any autobiography.

The first thing any writer must do, whatever the project, is to get organized. This course will put you on track to getting organized; and it will help anyone interested in researching and writing their own autobiography, adding interesting cultural components, or writing a personal history or biography for someone else.

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