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Unit Two, Day 13 - Tuesday

Class Goal: To begin getting students to think about the relationship between text and culture. To illustrate what kinds of directions cultural analyses might take.

Connection to Course Goals: To highlight the contextual nature of texts and how they respond to particular audiences and cultural contexts. CSOW with current paper - how these ways of thinking and developing might be applied to the context of their paper; emphasis on critical thinking about texts and contexts.

  1. Collect Academic Responses: Remind students to put all work in their folders, including drafts and peer responses. (5 min.)
  2. Transition to Media Analysis: Remind students that the paper they just wrote focused on responding to an academic context. Highlight how texts must respond to their contexts or else risk miscommunication and/or not being listened to. Emphasize how texts can't be only what the author wants in order to work. Then, explain that our next paper is going to take up this issue of context again, not only in how you write your paper in response to an academic context but also by analyzing the effect of culture on already written texts.
  3. Discussion of the Cultural Function of T.V. (15 min.)

Write-to-learn: Ask students to list all the reasons they watch television, thinking specifically about which shows they like the most and why they might like them more than others.

Board Work: List all these reasons on the board. Try to prompt them to think about reasons for watching t.v. which go beyond "entertainment." For example:

Summary: Summarize discussion by telling students how their list demonstrates that television serves a particular cultural function for its viewers that, while entertaining, usually has an effect beyond entertainment: it appeals to us because it typically reinforces certain aspects of culture we find appealing and/or believe in. In sum, it sends a message and is watched for a reason that can be examined culturally.

  1. Mini-Lecture on T.V. and culture: (Expand on the following notes with your own understanding of the definitions and own examples. Testing studentsí knowledge by asking for their own examples works well here.)
  2. In this paper, we'll be looking at three possible ways of analyzing t.v.: reinforcement, resistance, and function. (5 min.)

    Reinforcement: assumes that media, like television, appeals to people because it is reinforcing cultural myths and messages of the dominant culture. It is, in a sense, "teaching" us what to value and how to see ourselves in ways the culture deems acceptable. (Example: Brady Bunch and family values)

    Resistance: assumes that media, while reinforcing, also has the potential to change culture by offering up alternative visions of what the world can be like, or asking us to think more critically about our own assumptions. (Example: Golden Girls and questioning assumptions about women over 60)

    Function: assumes that viewers watch particular kinds of shows because they fulfill a certain need in society, something particular to this moment in history that people are anxious about or a cultural tension. This way of analyzing looks at the content to understand not whatís being reproduced or resisted (i.e. hidden meaning) but why people want this type of show at this moment in time (Example: "real" cop shows as a way of making people feel safer in a time of high crime rates; why cops almost always "get their man" in this supposedly "true and accurate" reproduction)

  3. Introduce assignment: (5 min.) Emphasize the following points:

Warning: it's sometimes harder to analyze a show they, personally, like a great deal because they don't have enough distance.

Transition to #6: In the two essays you read for today, they are performing the same kind of analysis that you will be doing in your papers.

  1. Group work: Divide the class into 4 groups and assign them the task below. Tell them to use their homeworks as a beginning. (If you want to check their understanding, collect these homeworks at the end of class.) Reproduce the questions on either a handout (one for each group) or overhead. If you use a handout, make an overhead of each one so you can show the rest of the class the questions while the group is speaking. Give them 15 minutes for activity.

Group 1 and 2

  1. According to Katz, what specific cultural norms are being reflected by advertising? (i.e. cultural reproduction) List all of them with a corresponding page # for where each is brought up.
  2. What reasons does Katz offer for the portrayals of masculinity in advertising? What does he think the cause is behind such portrayals? Why is it, in other words, that men in our culture need or like such images? (i.e. cultural function)
  3. What effect does seeing masculinity portrayed in this way have on men reading these ads according to Katz? What effect do these ads have on our culture's overall view of masculinity?
  4. Draw a picture of the relationship Katz seems to be assuming among advertising, culture, and readers of ads. What affects each?

Group 3 and 4

  1. According to Douglas, what specific cultural values or beliefs are reflected in the advertising which appears during the X-files? What are we being "told" by these ads? (i.e. cultural reproduction)
  1. Why does Douglas see the ads as so important to interpreting the message of the X-files? What does she assume about the relationship between the ads and the show?
  1. What effect does watching both the ads and the show together have on the viewer? What is the combination of the two "teaching" us?


  1. Draw a picture of the relationship Katz seems to be assuming among advertising/television shows, culture, and viewers of both. What affects each?

Discussion of Group Work (25 min.)

Cultural Discussion: Begin with groups 1 and 2, asking questions and summarizing after each presentation. Try and highlight in this discussion both how culture works (its effect on viewers, its relationship to cultural norms) and the function of cultural analysis for the reader (i.e. to highlight the "unseen" so the influence might be changed). Some possible follow-up questions for the whole class after each presentation are below.

[Warning: donít try to do them all; the best questions will focus on the goals above but emerge from what the students present. Remember your goal here isnít necessarily to summarize the essay and/or to get it "Right" but to explore the topics with the students. The accuracy of their reading of the essay is not the main point in this unit-instead, the readings serve to get their thinking started and to demonstrate how analysis might work]:

Katz - Group 1

Douglas - Group 2

Summary of Discussion of Cultural Issues:

Write-to-learn: Have each student draw a "picture" of the relationship between t.v., culture, and viewers that they personally believe in and write a few sentences to themselves explaining why.

(8) Homework: Remind students of next assignment: hooks (RA 483-90) and Blue and Naden (RA 314-30) and to write a response to question number four at the end of hooks.