In class today we'll:
- Focus on Function for Culture approach to analysis
- Look at what questions these essays ask about TV and culture
- Look at what assumptions these essays make about TV and culture
- Discuss "dominant" cultural myths and messages about gender
Connection to course goals: Discussing three essays should touch two of the main goals of CO150 - showing how writing can be used to gain a voice in culture (they chose to write to express their views on advertising) and how important context is to the writing process. They will also be asked to accomplish the latter goal by comparing the contexts of these three essays with their own context in essay 3. The analysis of the visual essays asks students to apply academic skills (cultural analysis and critical thinking) to cultural texts.
- WTL: Take about 5 minutes to jot down some thoughts on the following prompt to get us started on discussion…What gender myths do these authors feel advertising portrays? What effect do they feel it has on viewers?(5 min)
- Discuss the Lewis, Katz, and Kilbourne essays.
(NOTE: Remember to keep in mind the overall role of reading in this unit when preparing for and leading this discussion. We're not using these essays to gauge their ability to decipher main ideas (hopefully they've mastered that after Unit One). Instead, discussions should focus on trying to introduce students to ways of thinking about the relationship between culture and TV, to questions they'll want to consider in writing the second essay, and toward examples of the type of analysis they'll be doing in Essay 3.)
PART I: Using their WTL's as a starting point, discuss the two essays first just to get a sense of the argument these authors are making and how the students respond to those claims. Some possible discussion questions:
- What are the gender messages that Katz, Kilbourne and Lewis feel are being reinforced by advertisements?
- Do they offer support for these as the dominant gender myths? What type of support do they use for their claims about culture?
- Can you think of examples of ads that fit what Katz is saying? What Kilbourne is saying? What Lewis is saying? Any examples of ads that challenge what any of these authors say?
- Do you agree with the claims they're making about gender messages and these ads? Are the messages (dominant myths) they mention accurate? Do they provide any evidence for the myths they mention?
- Are there other myths that you think are present? Any examples of other dominant myths that challenge what they're saying?
- Are there any places where you feel Katz, Kilbourne, or Lewis go too far?
- They all seem to identify negative messages from the media. Is this fair? Are all of the messages described by these authors inherently and entirely bad? Can you think of any other examples of messages we may get from television that are positive?
- (15 min)
PART II: Now that we've agreed on their main claims and had a chance to respond to those claims, let's take a look more at how these three authors think about culture and the media.
- What types of assumptions do these authors make about the relationship between TV and culture?
- Do these ads reflect our current culture or create our current culture? Can it be both at the same time?
- What effect do these ads have on viewers in each author's opinion? Are viewers necessarily conscious of these effects?
- What reasons do the three authors provide for these portrayals of gender? Why does our culture like/need these images?
- (NOTE: If students are struggling here, or perhaps just as another way to help them understand the relationship these authors are analyzing, ask them to draw a picture of the relationship between Television/Advertising, the audience/viewers, and culture)
- (5-10 min)
PART III: Okay, we've seen their main arguments and flushed out the relationship these authors describe between culture, media, and the viewer, let's now consider why they wrote their essays.
- What is each author's purpose? What are they trying to accomplish or do with their essay?
- What, in your opinion, do these authors want their readers to do or think after reading their essays?
- (5-10 min)
PART IV: These essays are taking a similar approach to what you're being asked to do in Essay 3. Let's take a minute to compare their contexts with our own before we move on to actually practicing cultural analysis.
- How are these essays compare with the context we have in Essay 3?
- What is similar about what they do? What parts of their essays seem to fit with our assignment?
- Where do the contexts seem to differ? What do these authors do that might not fit with our assignment?
- Do they "prove" the dominant myth or anxiety exists? How might you prove a myth or anxiety for your essays? What types of evidence would be needed?
- (5-10 min)
This whole discussion should take between 40-45 minutes
Transition: Now let's move more toward preparing for our assignment specifically by practicing cultural analysis of media texts through the Function for Culture approach, as well as moving toward thinking about the function these texts might serve for a viewer (option 2 for Essay 3). This activity will be similar to what you'll eventually be doing with your TV show.
Present Myth/Stereotype overhead.
- Put the following on an Overhead and explain it to students.
- Cultural Studies is concerned mainly with "Cultural myths" rather than cultural stereotypes.
- A dominant cultural myth is a message most typically put forth by culture about gender, work, family, race, class, success, equality, relationships, etc., that has some influence over our actions without us being overtly conscious of it.)
- A stereotype is a message or generalization that people are easily aware of (women belong in the home). If a stereotype still influences us, still has cultural currency, then it can also be seen as a dominant myth. But if it is outdated and doesn't really affect culture anymore, it's not what we're after in Unit Two (Women are inherently inferior to men)
4) WTL: Look at the visual essays "It's a Woman Thing" and "Pumped Up." What are the obvious myths you see about gender in these ads? What dominant cultural myths do you think are reinforced or challenged in the images?
5) Large group discussion of the visual essays focusing on Function for Culture.
- Your goals in this discussion are to check their understanding of Function for Culture analysis and see if they can effectively apply it to the images. You also want to start trying to get students to move beyond obvious messages and complicate their analyses by looking for more "hidden" messages.
- As they explain their analysis, try to make sure students are already using textual examples to support their analyses. That is, make sure they point to the images in the ads and explain specifically how they actually do what they're claiming they do.
- (NOTE: It might be useful to focus on one or two of the images to find the more "hidden" messages, rather than spending a lot of time on trying to analyze them all. There are examples from a few of the images below that could serve as a focus)
- Discussion questions:
- (from their WTLs)What are the most obvious messages these images put forth about gender? What gender messages would anyone who picked up this image be able to see rather easily?
- Next let's think about whether these messages are dominant cultural myths. Can you think of any other "cultural texts" (TV shows, movies, ads, songs, etc.) that put forth these messages?
- Let's try to find more hidden or subtle meanings that might elude the causal viewer. Are there other messages about gender? Are there messages about dominant myths other than gender? Do the ads reinforce or challenge dominant myths? How might some of these images be both reinforcing and challenging dominant myths? Does an ad appear to challenge a myth, but actually reinforce it?
***(NOTE: This is the more difficult part of the activity, so be prepared to wander and help these groups get beyond the obvious messages. Some examples of more "hidden" messages:
- The "Feel it" ad is for Haagen-Dazs. While it obviously portrays a dominant message about how woman should look (skinny and sexy) and act (sensual), it is also an ad for ice cream, which seems to challenge the notion of how woman should look because it's not exactly a health food.
- The bottom ad on page 239 shows the type of muscles that are inherent in the "violent male" myth Katz talks about. However, this image could also be seen as showing the male in a submissive position to the woman.
Transition: We've looked at how you might analyze these essays through the Function for Culture lens. Now let's consider how you might analyze them from the Function for Viewer perspective.
- Large group discussion of visual essays focusing on Function for Viewer.
- Another goal here is to introduce them to Function with Viewer, which we haven't
really worked with at all.
- Also, be sure to emphasize that with this approach we look first for the existence of a cultural anxiety.
- (NOTE: you might quickly refresh their memories about what a Function for Viewer analysis tries to do by having them refer back to the assignment sheet and/or drawing the picture of the Function for Viewer relationship -- Culture --> Viewer --> TV -- on the board.)
- What are some obvious current anxieties about gender that people might hold? What might people be anxious about in terms of gender expectations? Gender roles? Can you think of any actual events which involve gender that people might be anxious about?
- Why might these images be appealing to a viewer in terms of those anxieties? In what way might these ads reassure a viewer's anxiety about some aspect of culture?
- What are some less obvious anxieties about gender that might currently exist? You might think of certain places (family, work, sexuality) where gender has become more complex or has perhaps been "confused" for some reason.
- How do you see the images dealing with these less obvious anxieties?
- Emphasize that close reading and attention to details will be crucial for a successful analysis.
- Remember to also emphasize that one of the main goals of this activity was to start pushing students to look beyond the more obvious messages in culture, something they'll have to do for their essay.
- Exercise in determining an audience for their essays.
- Let's quickly go back and think about who the three authors we read today were thinking of in terms of an audience.
- Katz - probably male viewers of ads, also more of an academic audience.
- Lewis - Both male and female viewers.
- How do you decide who, specifically, to write to? Generate a list of questions that could help someone narrow their audience for their essay.
- Who would most likely care about my analysis?
- Who needs to know about my analysis?
- Practice narrowing audience by considering who someone might write to if they were analyzing one of the visual essays.
- Who would care about these messages?
RC: "The Case of Daytime Talk TV", p. 5-12
A one-page analysis of our context in Essay 3. Consider the following questions:
- 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?
- Why would anyone want to know the effect a show may have on them?
- What possible "end results" can you envision for this type of analysis? How might you try to affect the show? How might you try to affect the readers of your essay?
(NOTE: You'll be collecting these homeworks tomorrow to see that students have a good sense of the essay and where they might go with it. Also, when you read these homeworks make a list of any concerns you think you need to address for the whole class.)