Critical Essay Info
Critical Essay: 2000 words (Due: Friday 14th May 2021)
Choose just one of the 8 themes/questions - see attached PDF - research, organise, write and present an academic essay that addresses the key points.
4) Gender & Identity: Compare and analyse representation of gender in one historical and one contemporary children's picture book. Your analysis should focus on characterisation and the role or agency of particular characters within the narrative. Underpin your arguments with reference to appropriate academic material (relating to gender studies, and image representation in picture books). Can you identify any particular cultural or ideological perspectives in your chosen examples?
Academic Tick List
Would heartily recommend you check out the 'Research and Writing Tips' tab in the module Blackboard menu and the many treasures there within.
In respect to finding books and articles to help underpin your argument and get you thinking - check out the University ONE SEARCH , as well as GOOGLE SCHOLAR.
How do you get all of your critical reading and thinking onto paper in a coherent way? Hopefully the process of actively engaging with the literature has clarified "what you want to say", which will help you to write a focused essay. Use this focus to plan your key points and identify the evidence you will bring in to support your argument. Structure and paragraphing are your friends, use them to build a logical progression or case.
“The great thing about Postmodernism is that it can be pretty much anything you want it to be. But then, the really annoying thing about Postmodernism is that it can be pretty much any thing you want it to be. Which is the freewheeling paradox at the heart of this movement.”
Will Gompertz (What Are You Looking At?)
After Modernism - The idea that modernism has met its end, and can no longer be modernised as it has all been done previously.
Anti Modernism - The reaction to the failures and conflicts caused by modernism e.g. subversion of modernist ideals.
Bricolage - The sampling of ideas from the past in creating something new.
Determinism - The idea that all actions and choices are predetermined by actions, and the history that came before us.
Hyper Modernism - The successor to modernism, and post modernism. The idea that the context of an object is irrelevant to its function.
Hyper Reality - The lack of boundaries between simulation and fantasy, and reality.
Meta-narrative - a narrative account that explores the idea of storytelling, often by drawing attention to its own artificiality.
Post Modernism - Postmodernism is a reaction against the intellectual assumptions and values of the modern period in the history of Western philosophy. The concept lacks overall consensus of its meaning and application.
Modernism - sustained period of development and innovation in the arts reflecting the new discoveries and ideas in science and technology. It roughly took place from the mid 19th century to the late 1970's.
Rationalism - Scientific ideologies replacing religious ideologies.
Parody - A loaded simulation/ mockery of an original text.
Pastiche - An image presented without reality or context, which then, in turn, removes meaning.
The Society of the Spectacle - The view and perception of life as seen through as screen.
The Unstable Image - The lack of trust of images due to the loss of context and reality e.g. manipulated photoshop images.
Global culture and ethical design
Notes from the lecture
The Global Village
• Shared common destiny: health, environmental & sustainability issues?
• Cultural exchange & hybridity: mix of the local/indigenous culture with global influences.
• Cultural imperialism:the disproportionate effect of one culture over another.
• The post-traditional community:economic and technological impact on community relations.
Choose one of the following;
• Analyse one of the written extracts (see Learning Materials folder)
Naomi Klein- No Logo
Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’ was published in a never seen before phase of globalisation, in which brands such as McDonald’s, Nike, Shell, Starbucks, Disney, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Microsoft could ignore workers’ rights, local laws and civic opposition in order to produce more profits and use the majority of income to fund ads and sponsor athletes/celebrities for endorsement. Rather than selling a product these corporations are selling an idea, a life style and the brand itself. Rather than buying the product for its quality, consumers now buy into the brand for how it makes them appear.
In chapter 9, ‘The disregarded factory’ Klein talks about how many companies bypass production completely, no longer sourcing employees from the UK and closing existing factories, choosing instead to contracted out, offshore manufacturing, usually in Free Trade zones such as Indonesia, China, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines etc. As well as this company’s purposefully hide the location of their production operation, in order to hide the unfair mistreatment of their factory workers and the conditions in which they are forced to work in, not to mention their lack of a fair wage.
It’s shameful to think that in the 20 years since ‘No Logos’ publication things haven’t gotten better when it comes to big brands, their exploitation of garment workers still clear to see and the lack of accountability for their actions a clear warning for the consumer. Although their is progress in some areas it is slow in making things better for people and the environment, the only saving grace is that with today’s social media, information is much more accessible and there is a push in areas such a sustainable fashion, supporting small business and shopping locally.
Gender identity and Representation
Notes from the lecture
In this lecture we have begun to delve deeper into the understanding of gender, how it is represented in media and the change in gender roles over time. It is important to understand, when discussing gender, that: someone's 'sex' refers to the characteristics that are biologically defined, whereas someone's 'gender' is based on socially constructed features. It is widely recognise that there are variations in how people experience gender based upon self-perception and expression. Non-binary refers to a spectrum of identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine, and the term Transgender or trans is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned at birth.
Laura Mulvey Reading
Conduct a review of Laura Mulvey’s essay – Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema. Key points?
If you can point to the critical 'framework' that she uses, pull out some of her key arguments (and limitations) then you are doing well.
Laura Mulvey - My review
Within this essay Laura Mulvey discusses women's role in 'Hollywood cinema', it is important to note that at the time of writing, there were no female directors and the majority of people on a film crew were male, as well as the target audience being men - it was a very patriarchal time.
Mulvey begins her essay by discussing 'The paradox of Phallocentricism', this is the ideology that the male sex organ is the central element of the social world and a symbol of male dominance. I think one of Mulvey's limitations in this piece is referring to 'the castrated woman' as this links to Freuds opinion that women are envious of the male sex organ and wish they had one. However, the actual word 'phallocentricism' was coined by the welsh psychoanalyst Alfred Ernest Jones, who even though a friend of Freud, disagreed with his theory and argued that his belief of women being envious of the male sex organ revealed more about Frued's 'penis based paranoia' than it did about women's so called 'penis envy'.
However, it can be inferred from Mulvey's writing that because a woman lacks a penis she must make up for the fact and spend her whole life being an object for men to project their fantasises on to. This is where the 'male gaze' comes in, in film the male gaze occurs when the audience 'sees a woman' from the perspective of the heterosexual male. The camera will purposefully zoom in on the curves of a woman's body, breaking it up into segments and the scene will be set in slow motion. This is to emphasize that she is only the sum of her sexualized parts. Furthering the dehumanization of women, denying them individual identity and relegating them to the status of objects to be admired only for their physical appearance. Although the woman's appearance in film is vital, she has no real importance, her only addition to the story line is how she makes a man act or feel. Mulvey argues, that this behaviour, presented through film, encourages women to objectify other women through the eyes of a male. This links to the quote from John Berger's 'Ways of seeing', "Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The Surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed is female. Thus she turns herself into an object of vision: a sight." The males gaze theory links to the hegemonic ideology, which is a political or social dominance within our society and therefore, for a woman to survive in that kind of society she finds herself taking on (consciously or unconsciously) the role of the object.
Mulvey also explores scopophilia, which is the “pleasure in looking”. This is when the audience sit in a room and observes the people on the screen who are unaware that they are being watched, for pleasure. This gives the spectator the power to 'directly possess' the female character, as she falls in love with the main male protagonist, she becomes his property and through scopophilia the property of the audience too.
Overall, Laura Mulvey’s theory explores women’s rights and how the female body is represented through the media, which refers to the ways the audience view the characters on the screen. Although I hope we have come a long way since the time of Mulvey's writing there is still evidence of the male gaze being used in film to this day and there is still a lack of female directors, writers and producers and behind the camera roles. Even powerful females characters are more likely to be objectified compared to their male counterparts. The article below includes facts and figures about the objectification of women in movies today, it also talks about society becoming so desensitized to the male gaze that we don't even realize were seeing it as it is so ingrained in our viewing experience, as well as the advertising used to promote it.
The Male Gaze Still Dominates In Movies Around The World, New Study Shows | HuffPost UK (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
Subculture and style
In this weeks lecture we have been learning about subcultures and their influence on fashion.
Dick Hebdige Reading
• Define what a subculture is - using at least one academic source.
• Post visual examples of cultural capital (fashion, graphics … etc) for a subculture of your choice.
Definition of a Subculture
Dick Hebdige states in 'Subculture: The Meaning of Style' (1979), "Subcultures represent 'noise' (as apposed to sound: interference in the orderly sequence from which leads from real events and phenomena to their representations in the media." Hebdige discusses the idea of subcultures as cultural "noise," which conveys interference with mass culture. This 'noise' suggests an obstacle which the dominant culture has failed to acknowledge, causing a significant cultural discourse. Therefore, subcultures are a break from the mainstream a way to go against the grain, often offending or unsettling those outside the group. However, those individuals who 'don't fit in' acquire a subcultural membership, giving them the opportunity to experiment with style, music and dispute gender norms.
Hippies were one of the most powerful countercultures of the 20th Century. They started in the mid- 1960s in the Unites States as a youth subculture characterized by free love, utopian socialism, sexual revolution and psychedelic art and music. The movement peaked in the 1969 Summer of Love and subsided by the mid 70s. They were strongly against the Vietnam war and often took psychedelic drugs like LSD and mushrooms.
The Graphic Code of Comic Strips
Notes from the lecture
This week we have been learning about the technical side of comic strips and how they are crafted to fully compliment the storyline.
Paul Gravett Reading
Scott McCloud Reading
Nick Dodds Reading
Learning to decode a comic strip
Write-up Scott McCloud text (transition types):
Moment to moment - small lapses in time
Pebble island - a good moment to moment comic
Action to action - different action/ same scene - needs closure
Daddy’s girl - good action to action comic
Lighter than my shadow - Katie green
The table cloth - Marion fayolle
Subject to subject - within the same scenes, but move to different subject - needs more reader involvement
Paper girls - Bryan Vaughn and cliff Chiang - good subject to subject comic
Scene to scene - geographic location - significant movement of time and or space - deductive reasoning needed
Aspect to aspect - scene setting motif
Non sequitur- no logical relationship between panels
Casestudy: research a comic artist of your choice & analyse a page of their work:
This is a strip from the comic Hilda (also known as Hildafolk) which is an award-winning British children's graphic novel series written and illustrated by Luke Pearson. I have attempted to decode this section of the comic correctly although I think there is always room for a difference of opinion. However, I think it has been very helpful to learn the importance of the technical side of comic strips and how frames can carry a story.
Notes taken during Lecture
Jonathan Bignall Reading
Roland Barthes Reading
Maslows hierarchy of human needs
Magazine Advert 1
French Magazine Panzani Ad. (1960s)
Magazine Advert 2
Dior perfume Ad. (2019)
Conduct a semiotic analysis of a magazine of my choice.
Reading Words and Images
Notes taken during lecture
In this weeks lecture we have been learning about the relationship between words and images and the different ways they can be used together. Understanding anchorage, which comes in multiple forms, explains the ways in which words and images can compliment each other.
Scott Mc Cloud reading
Roland Barthes Reading
Excerpt from a book
This quote is from a book I was reading, it’s a none fiction book that wasn’t about semiotics but I really feel that it conveyed the importance of understanding the different contributions of words and images in a semiotic sense, “What is the difference, after all, between printed words or the grey tones of a photograph. Both are simply marks on paper, both record and report. But while words engage the intellect, photographs use another language; they have a more visceral appeal, that punch in the gut.” - Alchemy and Rose
Blog Task - This is not a pipe
This weeks blog task was to recreate the painting Treachery of Images by Magritte and give a brief analysis of the piece. The picture shows a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" French for "This is not a pipe and the simple meaning is that the painting is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe. This work is a result of Margritte's fascination with the combination of words and images working together to create a surrieal piece of art.
Semiotics & Structuralism
Some notes that I wrote down during the lecture to get to grips with the idea of semiotics. In which I have learnt that semiotics is defined as the study of signs & sign systems within society. Anything that is capable of conveying meaning is a sign (eg words, images, clothes, gestures and
Semiotics simplified in video form
If, like me, you sometimes struggle to get grips with a new idea simply from reading then this is a very simplified video, which explains semiotics in a friendly way.
Signs and Myths
This text I have annotated is an extract from Jonathan Bignall’s “Media Semiotics”. It mainly discusses the work of Ferdinand de Sassure, who studied language as signs and Charles Pierce, who also studied semiotics looking at signs as imagery.
-langue: whole language system
- sign: single word
- parole: partial example of speech or writing
-syntagm: a complete, ordered sequence of signs. eg: a sentence [My-dog-smells-terrible.]
-paradigm: point of substitution in a sentence (or group of signs) which allows for an exchange > of a similar sign, metaphorical sign or abstract sign, without changing the overall structure.
The World of Wrestling
This annotated text is from Roland Barthes, “The world of wrestling from mythologies”. It discusses the use of semiotics within the world of wrestling and how using excessive gestures conveys to the audience the sign of violence, but without actually conflicting any real damage to the participants. The signs are exaggerated, repeated and constantly reinforced which makes them easily understood by the audience and is in fact exactly what they want. They want to see justice carried out as they so rarely see it in their daily lives.
Sign = signifier (gesture) + signified (concept)
YouTube video of Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks
During the lecture we watched this video of two wrestlers in the 1980s, fulfilling their roles as the Good vs Evil characters expected in all wrestling matches. Big Daddy being the hero of the match and the ‘good guy’ perfectly carrying out his role and executing justice by knocking Giant Haystacks out of the ring, who happened to fall onto a perfectly positioned table softened by flowers. It was a ‘spectacle of excessive gestures’ depicting an ‘image of passion, but not passion itself’ conveyed how signs are used within the world of wrestling from exaggerated movements, to the body language of the wrestlers and the body image of the wrestlers themselves. We were given some questions to answer while watching this video which you can read in my notes at the top.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.