For this exercise I have chosen the textile art of sewing. I believe this craft serves as an excellent metaphor for developing knowledge in my career field (English) not only because it is heavily reliant on text, which is a derivative term from “textile”, but also because I believe the processes involved in sewing are easily transferred onto the term “culture” as we know it.
Not unlike agriculture, the craft of sewing has several branches and aspects to it: embroidery, knitting, weaving, and quilting all relate back to sewing in some form or fashion. Incidentally, just as agriculture can be used to extend the scope of the original transformation (of the Latin term cultura) and establish a chain of equivalences… so can sewing.
I decided to create a rudimentary image representative of the chain of equivalences that occurs when adopting the textile art of sewing to the term “culture”:
As previously stated, I believe that viewing sewing in this way also aids my understanding of the “culture” of my career field. Just as sewing began with a primitive need to tell stories and share myths, my purpose in choosing English as a career path is grounded in my love for storytelling. Additionally, I chose to use the “social” box to outline sewing as it was most widely used in the Middle Ages up to the 19th century because I believe this is the best word to describe the intention behind the craft during this period. Young women were expected to be accomplished in several crafts (including embroidery), and these accomplishments served as support for their standing within high society. In the same vein, quilting in this period was used both to tell stories, just as weaving was used in the past, and also to create a social event where women could meet and freely talk. In many circles, acts of sewing were used in this manner: groups of women would work on their craft together, both creating a discourse in their art as well as a spoken discourse with each other. The social “culture” of my chosen field has evolved over time as well. I believe English as a field has evolved from the constricted academic structure it started with into a more open, social environment. As we discussed in class, writing has undergone an evolution as well, and in the digital age writing has become an infinitely less individual-based process than it was in the past. Finally, the modern aspects of sewing can be used as an extension of the term “culture” because it represents a more corporate, industrialized focus and in considering the history of “culture”, modern interpretations have a similar focus.