What we'll do today in class:
- Hand in Essay 2
- Introduce Essay 3
- Discuss Television as a cultural text
Connection to course goals: The first activity gets students thinking about television shows as texts that people read. Our goal here is to expand our notions of text and to show students how writing can be used to gain a voice in culture.
- Postscript questions for Essay 2. These questions are designed to get students to think back over their writing process for Essay 2 and consider what they think worked well, what they might do differently, and what they may have learned from writing this essay.
- Take about 10 minutes to respond to the following questions.
- What was the most difficult part of writing Essay 2?
- What is one strength in your final essay?
- If you had a few more days, what part of this paper might you continue to work on? Is there anything you would change?
- List one piece of workshop feedback you received and explain why you did or did not use it.
Transition to Essay 3. We've just completed the first unit. The second unit will focus again on academic contexts for writing, but now we'll begin to expand our notions of "texts" and "reading" to the larger culture in the form of television programs.
Review skills we learned in Unit 1.
Ask students to generate a list of all of the skills we learned and practiced in Unit1.
We'll be using all of these skills in some form or another during Unit 2.
- This list should include:
- Finding main ideas
- Critical reading
- Analysis of context
- Using different types of evidence
Transition: This first activity will introduce us to a new type of analysis and thinking we'll be doing in Unit 2.
WTL: Activity showing possible cultural roles for TV shows. This activity is designed to get students thinking about the relationship between culture and television. Certainly we've seen the very circumstance described below in real life, so this isn't unrealistic. The main point is to have them think about the fact that these groups are assuming that television does "teach" us things and it also affects our beliefs and actions.
- Put the following instructions on the board:
- Imagine that your favorite TV show is being challenged by a political group who wants it removed from television because it denigrates their values. Write for about 5-10 minutes in response to the following questions.
- What is the name of the group trying to ax your show?
- What is the group protesting? What messages from this show would the group find objectionable?
- How would you argue in favor of keeping your show on television? (Think of the audience here. What reasons would the challengers consider convincing? What assumptions are they making about the TV show that you'll have to consider?)
Discuss WTL. In this discussion, try to get them to see the assumptions these groups are making about TV, and also beyond the idea that television is "just entertainment." This will likely be offered as a way to argue in favor of keeping a show in the WTL, but emphasize that this reasoning probably won't work because of the assumptions the group they're writing to is already making. That is, the whole reason this group is protesting is because they believe the show is more than entertainment, so trying to convince them they're wrong in that belief is probably pointless.
- Divide the board into three columns - TV SHOW GROUP VALUES PROTESTED
- Get three or four people to offer their show, group, and objectionable material.
NOTE: Make sure you get at least two examples that talk about how these groups object to the values or messages portrayed in the show. In the past, some students have chosen The Superman Cartoon, named the protesting group "People for Realistic TV," and said they were protesting the fact that Superman could fly and was so strong, which was so clearly unrealistic. This is not what we're after. If someone gives something like this, go ahead and list it on the board, chuckle along with them, and then ask if anyone focused more on the values of the TV show they chose.
Once you've listed a few on the board, ask these people how they would defend their show. Again, they may start with the entertainment defense, so be prepared to push them further. One helpful hint might be to role-play the group they've identified and make them argue against the entertainment idea. Some possible discussion questions:
- How would you defend these shows? (try to get as many possible defenses as possible)
- What assumptions do the protesting groups make about what TV does for viewers?
- What assumptions do the protesting groups make about what TV does for culture as a whole?
- Once you've discussed these, explain to students that the next essay will ask them to make these same assumptions about television and culture. This means they will approach a television program from a specific theoretical position that will guide their analysis.
Conclusion: The last activity gets us started on a Function for Culture analysis. Thinking about dominant myths is the first step toward analyzing how shows reinforce or challenge those messages.
Assignment: No Assignment