backReturn to Unit 2:TR

Unit 2, Day 15:  Tuesday, October 9


What you’ll do today in class:


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

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

·        Begin generating types of textual evidence to support claims about TV shows


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 exigence that is coherent with the context and audience they’ve generated (in the practice ad analysis).  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 model 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.  Finally, we begin a discussion of the types of evidence available to students in developing their analyses of TV shows.




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?


3.      Discuss types of evidence available for supporting an analysis of a TV show (10 minutes):


-         Review qualities/characteristics of effective evidence from Unit 1.  In general terms, what makes a writer’s evidence effective?  (relevant, specific, explained)

-         Ask students about the kinds of “textual” evidence and “outside” evidence Durbin and Zeisler use to support their claims.  List students’ responses on the board.  Try to generate an inclusive list of all of the different types of evidence these writers use, including textual examples from the show and “outside” examples such as references to other shows or cultural occurrences.  Here are some types of “textual evidence” students should offer:


·        “visual language”:  dominant images, repeated images/patterns, set design, spatial arrangement, camera space, etc.

·        actual words/language:  for TV/film—specific dialogue of characters; for ads—any writing that is part of the ad (ad copy, slogans, descriptions, etc.)

·        “interactions” of characters/subjects, behaviors

·        what else?


4.      Discuss evidence students used in their practice analyses (10 minutes):


·        What kinds of evidence did people use in their practice ad analysis (textual and “outside” evidence)?

·        How might those same types of evidence apply to analyses of TV shows?  What types of evidence might be available to a writer in a TV show that are perhaps not with a print advertisement?


5.      Introduce Essay 3 conferences and have students sign up for conferences for Day 18 (2 minutes):  Briefly explain the purpose of the upcoming conference and circulate the sign-up sheet.  Remind students that missing conference will count as an absence for that day.





Assignment for Day 16:

·        Read pages 8-11 in RC, including “Viewing Strategies” and “The Viewing Audience.” Also read the “Images” section in RC (173-79).  We’ll be using these strategies next meeting to find textual evidence to support claims about a TV show.

·        Choose a TV show to focus on for your Essay 3 and begin watching and recording it this week.