Cultural Studies Week 3
Representation and discourse
Reflective/mimetic views (signs reflect the world/mind) –
Spoken words are mental experiences that you tell others, however, there is no room
to suggest that maybe meaning comes through interpretation.
Wittgenstien: no such thing as private language – but what we express isn’t universal/
We learn specific meanings in the ‘language games’ related to ‘forms of life’ that we
There’s nothing in the world representation that has to have one meaning.
Communication of views of the world. The certain kinds of meaning that are
constructed in certain ways. We have certain languages that will affect how we
Our concepts of the world are shaped by discourse. How we define representation and
Visual Representation Hall
Cliché – In the modern world our culture is saturated by the ‘image’. It has become
the late modern society.
Centrality of representations is of concern in media and cultural studies.
Representation 2 meanings:
1. Present something already in the world.
2. Stand in/taking place for
Representation is the way in which things are given meaning.
“true meaning” gap of representation “how things are represented.”
Meaning is given.
Representation = construction or reconstruction rather than reflection of reality.
There may be a world ‘out there’ but representations are all we have.
An Unfortunate Event – Example
The spin we put on things has a different effect in communication. What is it about the words used that gives the different view of the event?
I ran over your cat. – Factual.
I’m afraid that you cat has been run over. – It diminishes responsibility. Passive. No I.
Some regret, but it’s not directly related to me.
I just backed out. I’m sorry. I didn’t see her. It was so quick. – Natural. Excuse mode.
Confused, panicky, jumbled.
That’s the last time that manky cat of yours sleeps under my car. – Adjectives, value
laden. Infringement of my rights.
I don’t know how to put this, I’m afraid tiddles has gone to cat heaven. – metaphors to
Something’s happened. I just switched on the engine and bacled out and there was a
meow and a big pop and a squish. Blood flew onto the the back window and I got out.
– Over descriptive. Rubbing it in.
Your cat is dead. – Factual. Potentially concerning.
Red is not a colour – True statement?
It depends on the context/discourse through which meaning is being organised.
(Discourses are the sociallyshaped patterns of communication linked to different
forms of social life)
A friend called Red
Meanings that work in context – discourse. Coded aspect of communication.
What does Black mean in the discourse of fashion?
There is no inherent meaning in black – it relates to the context/style of the clothing.
Formal codes like mourning.
The hourglass corset – femineity, sexuality.
Fashion code. There is no fixed meaning. Constructions of meaning = giving meaning.
Gender Codes = colours, pink and blue