An American Culture Grid, With Texts

By Jay Mechling
Set aside fancy definitions and as for method look no further: culture is 'the stories we tell' and Mechling's Culture Grid is a blackboard on which those stories can be laid out, tried out, and crossed out by teachers and students of American culture's complex web. A student might begin by locating a text on one of the grid's three realms: elite, popular or folk. Then they might consider it moving, interpreted, affected by race, gender, class and age and, in the process, learn not only that texts don't easily fall into slots but also that the walls of the grid, like culture, are permeable and interconnected. Culture moves. The grid is an organizer, a tool. The point is learning how to find the "pattern which connects."