Since our paradigm shift essays are supposed to discuss changing cultural trends, I was thinking of writing about how what is considered “good manners” in general have changed since early Colonial times, or maybe as far back as medieval history. If you look through a lot of classical literature, especially books by Jane Austen, you can see a lot of different rules of etiquette that are no longer in common practice today. For instance, people today rarely bow to each other unless it is on a formal occasion. In Jane Austen’s time period, people bowed during introductions and everyday greetings. Table manners have also have changed. This was one of the first topic ideas that came to my mind (probably because I really like reading Jane Austen books), but it might be difficult to find information on this trend. I tried doing a Google search but I didn’t come up with a lot of official-looking .edu/.gov sources that linked any of these manners to present day manners or how etiquette has changed over time. I did find a couple of blogspot sources and interesting magazine articles though that talked about each era separately, so I might be able to base my research off from there, or else reference actual etiquette books like The Book of the Courtier from the Renaissance period!
Another idea I had was to look at how concepts of beauty has changed throughout the ages. I mean, if you look at the portraits of many members of the royalty or upper class in the past, a lot of them seemed rounder, plumper, and well, healthier. Today, it seems almost the complete opposite — incredibly starving-looking supermodels (probably starting with Twiggy) are popularized by the media as being “beautiful”. For instance, for much of European history, pale skin was considered a sign of wealth and status (ie. nobles who did not have to do manual labor), while tanned skin was considered a sign of the working class (peasants, workers in the field, etc). Today, pale skin generally has a different connotation, like being cooped up in an office all day while a tan might now signify having enough time for a vacation and so on. These ideas have changed a lot over time, so it might be interesting to look at this change, or paradigm shift, as well.