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Lecture 8

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Communication Studies
Baxter Moore

COMM2P20 Lecture8 October31st,2012 Music:StanRogers,“NorthWestPassage” - What it is about? - Early settlers trying to find a passage across Canada to the Pacific Ocean - Mentions John Franklin who lost his life in the quest for the Northwest Passage - The singer ultimately reflects that, just as the quest for a northwest passage might be considered a fruitless one (in that a viable and navigable northwest passage was never found in the days of Franklin and his kind), a modern-day journeyer along similar paths might meet the same end. - The song was the favourite to become Canada’s new national anthem - Like those great explorers of the past, he is making this trek accross Canada, only to find that he really wanted to be home - It is a great Canadian song - Conforms to many of the structures of myth Structuralism - Starts with Ferdinand de Saussure, Swiss linguist - Investigated the structures through which language works - Relational theory of language - the meaning of a word is defined by difference- what what it isn’t as well as what it is (black and white - defining black and white as a skin colour is hard because most people are shades of brown or pink, not black and white) - We can only make sense of those labels by talking about them in relation to their difference - Introduces the idea of the signconsisting of signifier (word/ symbol) and signified(its meaning) - Also notes that the relationship between the signifier and the signified is often arbitrary (like a cat - the word cat does not have anything to do with the animal or the sounds it makes) ArbitrarinessofSigns - Signifier - Cat (C a t) - Chat (French) - Katze (German) - Gato (Spanish) - Koska (Russian) - Mao (Chinese) - Neiko (Japanese) - Language is socially constructed - the vocabulary we use to describe things (for the most part) has no intrinsic meaning on its own) DeSaussure - Meaning also made through systems of combining and selecting signs (or words) - like sentences - Syntagmatic (horizontal combinations - how one puts words or signs together in a sentence) - If they are put together in a different order, the meaning is changed (the boy hits the girl vs the girl hits the boy) - Paradigmatic - vertical selection = which words or signs one chooses to put together Example - Original sentence: “Nickelback are the best” - Syntagmatic variation: “NIckelback are the best example of a mediocre band making it to the top thanks to Canadian content regulations - Paradigmatic variation: “Nickelback are the worst” or “Justin Bieber is the best” Language and Parole - Language= the overall system of structure of a language (its words, syntax, rules, conventions and meanings) - people tend to talk in sentences, - Parole= the use of language made possible by, and deriving from, language (what we actually say and write) Diachronic and Synchronic Analysis - Can be applied to almost any kind of research/ analysis - Diachronic- studying something over a period of time - Synchronic- studying something (or several things) at a particular point in time - De Saussure and structuralists argue for synchronic approach - how language works right now Semiotics - De Saussure views linguistics as a branch of semiology, the science of signs within society - Semiotic analysis involves the deconstruction of codes that are invoked in the communication of meaning - Codes are composed of signs that have been culturally and ideologically organized in order to attach them to certain referents - There is a power structure involved that reinforces these senses of meanings - Ideological power structures (mass media) tell us how to interpret certain kinds of signs - The signs are culturally, ideologically, and sometimes legally, organized Structuralism - Claud Levi-Strauss, adapted de Saussure’s ideas to the study of anthropology - His particular focus was the ‘unconscious foundations’ of societies, the underlying structures on which myths are constructed - Levi-Strauss argued that myths in all societies had similar structures and had similar socio-cultural functions - Myth is not the idea of false or fact, but rather shared stories vs facts Myth/mythology - Myth, in this sense, is not the opposite of truth - Myths are the ‘stories we tell ourselves that tell us who we are” - For Roland Barthes, “Myth is a system of communication…a mode of signification… conveyed by a discourse. Myth is not defined by the object of its message, but by the ay in which it utters this message” (Roland Barthes, Mythologies, 1957, p117) Binaries - Binary Opposites - if signs often possess no intrinsic meaning, they are sometimes defined by what they are not - For example, the binary opposites ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ may be associated with the following connotations: Urban Rural Artificial Natural Polluted Clean Over-crowded Empty/ isolated Exciting Boring Commercial Non-commercial Unf
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