backReturn to Unit 2: MWF

Unit 2, Day 22:  Monday, October 8


What you’ll do today in class:


-         Examine students’ initial analysis of ads in terms of reinforcement/challenge of cultural beliefs and workshop possible exigencies for those analyses

-         Discuss how Ally McBeal responds to its cultural context (how it relates to the debate about feminism)


Connection to course goals:   The first activity gives students more practice in offering feedback on others’ writing and places emphasis on the need to find an audience that is coherent with the context and audience they’ve generated.  To further illustrate how TV shows respond to their cultural context through reinforcing/challenging cultural beliefs that are dominant in mainstream society, we look closely at how Durbin and Zeisler analyze and respond to the show within their own rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, focus) in their articles.  We want to re-emphasize for students how audience, purpose, and focus emerge from how they define the exigence of their essay (i.e. the reason this cultural message is worth writing about) so they can effectively meet the context for Essay 3.




1.      Discuss students’ practice analyses and respond in small groups (25 minutes):


A.     Have students work in groups of 3-4.  Group members should read part 1 and part 2 of each practice analysis, then write a short response to each of the following questions. Remind students that the main focus at this point is to see whether the writer identified a particular shared cultural belief being reproduced and challenged and began to offer some explanation based on the ad.


1)      Was it clear what the ad looked like, based on the writer’s description?  What, if anything, was unclear?

2)      Was it clear how the writer thinks the images (and ad copy, etc.) of this “text” offer a cultural message as well as an incentive to buy a product?

3)      Were you convinced by the analysis?  If so, why?  If not, what more do you need to know?


B.     In the same groups, have students exchange their practice analyses again and generate some possible AUDIENCES and EXIGENCIES for their practice analyses.  Each group member should offer at least one possible exigence and a possible audience coherent with that exigence.


1)      Why is the cultural message identified important enough to write about?  Why would it matter to Americans? 

2)      What particular reader (or readers) can you imagine might need to consider what this practice analysis claims about this ad’s cultural significance? 




2.      Discuss how Ally McBeal responds to its cultural context (25 minutes):  The goal of this discussion is to show how the writers see Ally McBeal interacting with a larger cultural context.  Remind students that these essays are not models for their own papers because they do not focus on the same types of analysis—reproduction or challenge of cultural messages—that their own essays will.


-         Ask students to summarize the “Perspectives” section on page 340 to establish some background about how the essays relate to the ongoing discussion about feminism and portrayals of women in the workplace, etc. Highlight how such a cultural scene sets up a clear exigence for writing about this show since Ally McBeal focuses on women in the workplace.

-         Then define the arguments Durbin and Zeisler make about the show’s relationship to culture (and this particular “slice” of culture—the debate about feminism).  Create discussion questions that will get students to articulate what they see as each writer’s claim/thesis about Ally and place those arguments in context.  You might also extend the discussion, if time, to questions about which author students agree with most and why, or questions about other possible messages in Ally.  Here are some possible questions


·        What shared cultural belief do Durbin and Zeisler see the show addressing?

·        What claims do they make about the show’s cultural implications?

·        Why do these writers think Ally needs to be written about?  What seems to be their exigence for writing?

·        Based on the introduction to each article and the article itself, who is the audience Durbin and Zeisler are writing to?  What do these writers assume their audience knows and needs to know?

·        What specific claim does each author make about the cultural implications of the show?

·        How do the authors’ assumptions about our current cultural situation (their exigence) and about what their audience knows lead to the claims they make?





Assignment for Day 23:


-         Review Durbin and Zeisler for evidence.

-         Make a list of the types of evidence Durbin and Zeisler use to support their analyses.