backReturn to Unit Two: MWF

Unit Two, Day 18 - Monday, October 2

What we'll do today in class:

Connection to course goals: The discussion of cultural studies provides the students with some background they'll need to respond effectively to the context for Essay 3. The discussion of Essay 3 again emphasizes the importance of context in the writing process by encouraging students to consider the different audiences and purposes possible for this assignment. Today we'll also look at cultural analysis and how we can apply writing skills and critical thinking beyond just classroom settings.


  1. Brief overview of main premises of cultural studies. Your goal with this overview is simply to explain to students the main premises behind the theoretical background for the type of analysis they'll be doing in Unit 2.
  2. Important points to cover in the overview...

    (5 min)

    Transition: To see how this takes place, let's take a look at what types of messages we're given about gender.

  3. Generate gender stereotypes on board.
  4. After you've generated these stereotypes, ask students the following questions to see how we interact with these messages and show the complexity of the relationship.

    (10-15 min)

  5. Sum-up the perspective cultural studies takes on how we interact with texts. Connect the points below to the discussion you just had.

    If they need it, here's another example that might help emphasize the type of influence we're talking about…

    - An example that might help them understand some of the above points. Refer to cases where people have blamed suicides on violent music, or music with "objectionable" lyrics. While often people reject this as a completely impossible cause of suicide, and cultural studies would agree that listening to that music didn't directly cause the suicide, cultural studies would argue that such music does influence the thoughts of the listener, and could thus indirectly influence the actions as well. It's not the cause of the suicide, but could have had some influence. It certainly didn't help.

    (10 min)

    Transition: Cultural Studies, then, assumes a complex relationship between cultural messages and individuals within that culture. This is the theoretical background that produces the specific modes of analysis you'll be choosing from in Essay 3. Now that we know the background, let's start looking specifically at that essay.

  6. Introduce Essay 3.
  7. Also, highlight these issues:

    (10 min)


  8. Brief lecture on types of cultural analysis. It will probably be helpful to just put the following information on an overhead, and let students know that it's also on the assignment sheet for essay 3, though it never hurts to take notes!
  9. Function for Culture: This perspective looks at the show to see what sorts of cultural messages or myths are being reinforced or challenged in the show that the viewer might not immediately notice. This type of analysis, then, describes how the show either tries to keep the larger culture intact, or to change parts of the larger culture. The focus of such analyses is to prove, with textual evidence from the show, what particular cultural myth you think is being reinforced, challenged, or some combination of both. (The Brady Bunch would reinforce cultural messages about family.)

    Function for the Viewer: This perspective tries to explain why a viewer, at this time given what else is going on in society, might find a show appealing. The focus of such analyses is to prove, with textual evidence, that the show is appealing to or fulfilling some sort of cultural "need" or "anxiety" within the audience. (ER might reassure a viewer's anxiety about the state of healthcare in America.)

    (HINT: Here is some extra explanation on these types of analysis: Both approaches attempt to explain the relationship between the larger culture, television, and a viewer.

    (5-10 min)

    Conclusion: Tomorrow we'll discuss the purpose and context of this essay in more detail. Then we'll look at how some authors took this approach in analyzing advertisements.



PHG, Lewis, "Some Don't Like Their Blues at All", 159-161

RC, Kilbourne, "Beauty…and the Beast of Advertising" 178-181


Write a response to following questions about Essay 3:

  • What is different about the audience or context for this essay compared to the previous essays?
  • Based on the context for this assignment, what different purposes might a writer have in producing this kind of text?