Class Goal: To reinforce ways of analyzing for cultural reproduction and function, and to begin considering the purpose, audience, and exigence of media analyses.
Connection to Course Goal: Ways of critically reading media; using reading as a way of generating ideas, analyses, and intended effect with audience
(1) Review of reproduction issues: Use the beginning of class to connect the discussion on Wednesday to today’s class, which focuses again on reproduction issues. (5 min.)
- Ask students to review whether Douglas and Katz, the readings for Wed., think that media exists only to sell products or entertain or whether there’s more to it than that? What’s the more?
- Would hooks agree or disagree with Douglas and Katz? Why? (Have students share orally a few of their responses to the homework assignment.)
Transition: Let’s look more specifically at how and why hooks makes her point.
(2) Discussion of hooks on Cultural Reproduction Lead a large group discussion of hooks, focusing on (1) how rap/piano reproduces cultural values, (2) how she proves her point, and (3) the cultural function rap serves for those who listen to it. (i.e. the same focus as Wed’s class to drive home` the issue). Some possible discussion questions: (15 min.) [Warning: Students sometimes have a strong reaction to hooks: try to keep them on the task of analyzing the essay first, before offering agree/disagree commentary.]
- What cultural values does she think gangsta rap reproduces? (emphasize reproduction here)
- On what does she blame the misogyny and violence in gangsta rap?
- Why does she think this isn’t something outside the mainstream? i.e. that rap isn’t a counter-culture or pathology of black men?
- How does she "prove" that the problems with gangsta rap are actually the same as we find in mainstream culture? (Ask for quotes to support their answers to this question. Point them to sections on mass audience appeal, values of white, patriarchal, capitalist society, etc.)
- How does she "prove" that these values are mainstream, American ones about masculinity? (Again, ask for quotes here. Stress the need to "prove" statements about culture as well as t.v. shows in their own analyses.)
- What role does her own experience play here? How does the fact that she’s never invited back to talk shows, etc. after she gives her views on rap (see intro) help support her analysis of gangsta rap?
- How does she see similar values reproduced in The Piano? How does she prove it? (Look at the textual details offered on p. 487--Remind students of the types of proof needed for their papers will look much like this, selected details from the t.v. show which illustrates their point.)
- Ultimately, why does hooks think that those in power are concerned about gangsta rap? Is it because they’re concerned with black-on-black violence and sexism?
- Why do white audiences like gangsta rap according to hooks? Why do they "feel such a desperate need" for it (489)? (emphasize cultural function)
- How should we see this essay? Is its main funciton a "reproduction" or a "function" analysis? Can it be both?
- Do you agree with hooks' portrayal of society? Why or why not? --Do you agree with her reading of rap music?
(3) Discussion of hooks on context/ "so what?": After discussing the content, turn students’ attention of issues of exigence (i.e. the so what) of the piece with the following questions: (5 min)
- Given the way hooks starts and ends her essay, `why did she write this article? What misconceptions is hooks trying to clear up?
- Why do you think she wants both white and African-American audiences to read this?
- How are her reasons for writing similar to Douglas’ and Katz? How are they different?
(4) Discussion of the "So What" factor In this discussion, try to get students to see how media analyses fit into a context for writing--i.e. why they are written and why readers might care--in order to generate a list of criteria for creating their own thesis statements for such a text. (10 min.)
- Given the three readings they’ve looked at, have students generate a list of why people might write these kinds of media analyses and why people read them. (List on board)
- WRITE TO LEARN: In light of this list, ask students to write down a list of questions they should think about when creating their own theses.
- Share and write on board. Add questions of your own if they do not come up with everything you want covered here (e.g. a reason for explaining such as revealing a hidden meaning; an audience that might care and providing reasons why they should care; a clear focus on one aspect of the piece of media like gender norms, etc.)
(5) In-class Analysis (15 min.) If you have extra time - you may have run out by now!
- Directions: Break class up into 4 groups. Ask them to create a thesis for a cultural analysis of the Naden and Blue essay (an excerpt from a book written for young adolescents) which answers the questions you just listed on the board. When finished, have them write both the thesis and examples on the board to share.
- Discussion: Go through each thesis if time (if not, pick one to focus on) and ask students if it meets their criteria. If not, revise it as a class until it does. (do not take a simple "yes" for an answer here; ask them to explain why/how the thesis answers each question on the board).
(6) Homework: Remind students to read Gray and Rapping for Monday and write their own analysis of an ad/comic strip. Be sure to emphasize that Rapping is on closed reserve in the library so they need to plan ahead to get a copy or read it; if they wait until Sunday night their classmates will most likely have it checked out).