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Your assignment is to write a short position paper (1 to 2 pages double spaced, or roughly 250-500 words) answering ONE of the following two questions:

(1)            How much appropriation do you think is justifiable in creating new works of art which draw on previously existing source material? As case studies, consider Nina Paley’s use of Annette Hanshaw’s music in Sita Sings the Blues and Shepard Fairey’s adaptation of an Associated Press news photograph for his 2008 Barack Obama “Hope” campaign poster. In each case, do you feel the artist was right or wrong in the way they used the material? Were the corporate entities involved right or wrong to claim their copyrights gave them the power to suppress these works? 

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(2)            When an artist freely adapts material that is strongly associated with a culture other than his or her own, does that artist have a special responsibility to avoid offending some members of that culture? Would the same standards apply to an artist from within the culture? As a case study, consider Nina Paley’s contemporary retelling of the Ramayana epic in Sita Sings the Blues. Some Hindus condemned the film while other Hindus applauded it. When, if ever, should an artist compromise his or her vision in deference to interest groups claiming offense?

Whichever question you choose, you may argue pro or con or somewhere in between, but whatever side you are on, you should avoid emotional rants and baseless charges. Summarize each side’s position, and use specific evidence and sound reasoning to support your case. Your writing will be assessed according to the amount of time and thought you put into the work, the persuasiveness of your reasoning, and the clarity of your writing. You may refer to outside sources if properly cited, but do not copy from websites or other authors; use your own words. As always, grammar, spelling, and style count; be sure to proofread your paper for any mistakes.

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