Global citizenship and national citizenship – both in terms of people’s aspirations and the realities of their daily lives – are increasingly represented and shaped by technology – and perhaps, paradoxically, both promoted and discouraged by technology as well. At the same moment that the US Common Core Standards bid us to emphasize informational text, we are encountering other people and cultures whose emphasis on artistic expression and exploration has been curbed as a matter of political policy, not just educational priority. The roles of art (including literature) and technology must be examined if we are to understand how it is we come to conceptualize – and thus understand and/or misunderstand -- the differences and similarities between ourselves and people of other countries and cultures, especially as strive to embrace the role of “citizen” and the rights, responsibilities, and relationships it implies.
1. What makes someone a good citizen? a great citizen? And from where do our criteria for good citizenship come? Does being a great citizen make someone “great”?
2. What makes citizens of a nation be free? feel free? Given the choice, would people rather be free or feel free?
3. To what degree are art and literature sources of global, national, and local understanding and misunderstanding? To what extent does self-expression strengthen and weaken “nation”?
4. What effects do 21st-century technologies have on the illusion and reality of freedom? How does technology heighten the tensions between the purposes of “the individual” and “the nation”?
5. What does Such is This World@sars.come (SITWsars) -- both the novel’s history and the novel itself – suggest are important differences and similarities between Chinese and American values, practices, and notions of good citizenship?