Today, we will take our first stab at academic freedom. This means that you can choose the text you will read/analyze/examine. Exciting, huh?
Still, as many creative people will tell you, absolute freedom can be strangely paralyzing. We need some constraints or guidelines to provide context for our endeavours. Here is how we will proceed:
- Your focus for the next few days will be intended and unintended value messages
- Whatever text you choose, you will need to consult some kind of secondary source that comments on either the text itself or the kinds of issues the text explores. For example, if you choose a sports broadcast that deifies a particular athlete (the text), you should look for a secondary source that comments on pro athletes/hero worship in our culture. Remember that this is a university prep course, so our standards for a secondary text are high.
- You need to think carefully about how you track your thoughts/ideas. Cluster diagrams? Cornell style notes? Something completely digital, like Mindomo? It is up to you. Just make sure that your notes make your thinking visible. Include:
- a way to track questions that occur to you as you examine the text
- textual references/examples
- a clear distinction between your ideas and the author’s
Next, we need to brainstorm potential texts for you to examine. In your groups, think of any examples that might meet the following criteria:
- a text that you found problematic because of its depiction of a specific group (for example, an outdated stereotype)
- a text in which members of a group demonstrate little agency/growth (action movies where the female characters are essentially props)
- a text that objectifies a group
- a text that was deliberately constructed to change people’s opinions/views (All in the Family or Gone Home)
- a text with two meanings, one of which may have been unintended (remember the Nivea ad?)
- a text that elicits wildly different responses from the audience. Such discrepancies are often due to the audience’s responses to value messages (think how the reactions to divisive politicians differ)
Let’s collect your ideas here.
Oh, one more thing: if you chose a highly visual medium, like film, television, or video games, you can watch short clips to provide your work with the necessary context. You cannot, however, use the bulk of class time to play/watch.