Week 10 Lecture Guide.doc

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12 Apr 2012
Department
Course
Week 10
Representation (cont…)
Polysemy (Fiske, 1989)
- Ideas about interpretation
- Less emphasis on structure, more on our/audience’s ability to exercise own
agency -> audience all powerful
- Production is less important than how audience interprets media messages
- it doesn’t matter what structural constraints were used, any given cultural
product is polysemic
Polysemic
-Media messages are open to multiple interpretations (poly = many, semic
points)
- Audience brings diversity and multiple interpretations to any form of content
Fiske and audience power
Audience is all powerful
- Total power regarding media messages and receptions/decoding
- Media do not program our interpretations, audience decide upon meaning
from given texts
Television messages create open and contradictory interpretations
- Messages aren’t closed off – open for interpretations
Struggle over power creates polysemy
-Struggle over meaning and power – contradict one another’s perspective
- When we challenge/debate different possible meanings, it makes polysemy
possible – only exists when we question each other’s interpretations when
decoding media text
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Semiotic Excess
- Makes polysemy possible
Semiotics
Roland Barthes (1973) – Mythology and Ferdinand de Saussure
- Laid semilotics foundation for study
The study of signs
- Analysis of messages that are visual, verbal and non-verbal
- E.g. G1 (studying signs), interpreting advertisements
Part of interpretation process
Sign (Code) = signifier + signified
Signifier (physical object)
- Word, picture, anything that your senses are aware of
Signified (mental concept or idea)
- Indicated by the signifier
I.E. a Valentine’s card: signifier – hearts, cards
Signified – love, sex, chocolate, holiday, feelings (lovemarks)
Culturally specific
-Relationship between the sign and what it represents isn’t always fixed –
might not what it was years ago … it may change depending on culture and
societies … transforms/changes
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