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Department
Classical Studies
Course
CLAA06H3
Professor
Malcolm Mac Kinnon
Semester
Fall

Description
ACMA01 FSG FSG Practice Test 1 Multiple Choice Epistemology is: a. Study of history b. Study of knowledge c. Study of ears d. None of the above Fill in the Blanks __History_ is a record of events from the past. Multiple Choice The premise of Substantive theory states that: a. There is some form of inner logic or dynamic in modern technologies that results in particular social consequences. b. There is some form of inner logic or dynamic in modern technologies that does not result in particular social consequences Fill in the blank The _Ambivalence_ theory’s premise states that technology is not neutral but is rather ambivalent, capable of various alternative developments Multiple Choice Doublespeak is: a. Language intended to obscure what is actually being talked about b. Paradoxes c. Two people talking at once d. Multiple perspectives about history Multiple Choice These kinds of philosophers have started challenging “official” histories. Their focus is on those who suffer, those who are oppressed, those on the losing side of the war.Are they: a. Historians b. Philosophers c. Theologians d. Liberationists e. Colonialists True or False University is a social space where knowledge is created, explored, critiqued and examined. (True) Fill in the blank _Colonialism_ is the policy or practise of acquiring full or partial political control over a country, occupation of territory and exploitation of economics Multiple Choice Who asserted that writing was unnatural and alien? a. Enrique Dussel b.Adorno c. Plato d.Aristotle True or False: Asign is: “a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract” (OED) (False) Fill in the blank The connection between the signifier and signified is __arbitrary__ Multiple Choice Is technology: a. “The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” b. “machinery and devices created from scientific knowledge” (OED) c. “The use of science to invent useful things or to solve problems” (MW) d.All of the above True or False Asymbol is: “an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else” OED (False. That is the definition of Sign) True or False: Colonialism is the policy or practices or advocacy of extending the power of dominion of a nation, esp. by direct territorial acquisitions…control…imposition of power. (False, because that is the definition for Imperialism) Fill in the blank The deliberate killing of a particular group of people is _Genocide_ . Multiple Choice Semiotics/Semiology is: a. Study of signs and symbols b. Study of science c. Study of systems d. None of the above True or False: Technologies are tools (True) True or False: Atranscendental signifier is a singular, quintessential signifier that gives meaning to all related signs (True) Fill in the blank _Newspeak__ is language that is intentionally euphemistic Multiple Choice “The amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different cultures, religions, schools of thought” Is this: a.Amalgamation b. Merging c. Syncretism d. Colonialism Multiple Choice What is discourse? a. Written or spoken communication or debate b.Aformal discussion of a topic in speech or writing c.Aconnected series of utterances; a text or conversation. (OED) d. None of the above e.Aand C f.A, B and C Multiple Choice Ethnocide is: a. Deliberate killing of a group of people b. Deliberate killing of an entire ethnic group Multiple choice An object or concept is the: a. Signified b. Signifier c. Representation d. Symbol Multiple Choice The premise of Instrumental Theory/ Neutrality Theory states that: a. The technologies we use are not inherently neutral b. The technologies we use are inherently neutral True or False: The sign or symbol created to represent that object is the signifier. (True) __Hegemonic___ _Ideologies_ are dominant ideologies that strongly influence our social/cultural norms True or False Asystem of ideas and ideals that are characteristic of a social group or individual is called an ideology. (True) True or False: Signs and symbols are often contextually situated (True) ACMA01 FSG Practice Test 2 Fill in the blank _______ is the state of being male of female (biological) a. Sex b. Gender True or False Asystem of ideas and ideals that are characteristic of a social group or individual is called an ideology. (True) Fill in the blank _History__ is a record of events from the past. Fill in the blank The _Ambivolence_ theory’s premise states that technology is not neutral but is rather ambivalent, capable of various alternative developments True or False: Plato believed art was Techne = Skilled Craft (True) Fill in the blank The connection between the signifier and signified is _Arbitrary_ Multiple Choice These kinds of philosophers have started challenging “official” histories. Their focus is on those who suffer, those who are oppressed, those on the losing side of the war.Are they: a. Historians b. Philosophers c. Theologians d. Liberationists e. Colonialists True or False University is a social space where knowledge is created, explored, critiqued and examined. (True) True or False: Atranscendental signifier is a singular, quintessential signifier that gives meaning to all related signs (True) True or False: Gender is the state of being male/ female in the social/cultural sense, not the biological (True) Fill in the blank _Colonialism_ is the policy or practise of acquiring full or partial political control over a country, occupation of territory and exploitation of economics True or False: We are not born gendered, we learn gender. (True) Multiple Choice Epistemology is: a. Study of history b. Study of knowledge c. Study of ears d. None of the above Multiple Choice Who asserted that writing was unnatural and alien? a. Enrique Dussel b.Adorno c. Plato d.Aristotle Multiple Choice Doublespeak is: a. Language intended to obscure what is actually being talked about b. Paradoxes c. Two people talking at once d. Multiple perspectives about history True or False: Asign is: “a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract” (OED) (False) Fill in the Blank The _Bystander Effect_ effect refers to situations in which individuals do not offer help to the victim when there are many other people present. The more people there are, the less likely someone is to help the victim. Multiple Choice Is technology: a. “The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” b. “machinery and devices created from scientific knowledge” (OED) c. “The use of science to invent useful things or to solve problems” (MW) d.All of the above True or False: Asymbol is: “an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else” OED (False) True or False: Colonialism is the policy or practices or advocacy of extending the power of dominion of a nation, esp. by direct territorial acquisitions…control…imposition of power. (False, it is Imperialism) If False, why? True or False: Gendered stereotypes are dangerous to all. (True, Myths of masculinity contribute to violence against men and women) Fill in the blank The deliberate killing of a particular group of people is _Genocide_ . Multiple Choice Semiotics/Semiology is: a. Study of signs and symbols b. Study of science c. Study of systems d. None of the above True or False: Technologies are tools (True) Fill in the blank _Newspeak_ is language that is intentionally euphemistic Multiple Choice The premise of Substantive theory states that: a. There is some form of inner logic or dynamic in modern technologies that results in particular social consequences. b. There is some form of inner logic or dynamic in modern technologies that does not result in particular social consequences Multiple Choice “The amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different cultures, religions, schools of thought” Is this: a.Amalgamation b. Merging c. Syncretism d. Colonialism Multiple Choice What is discourse? a. Written or spoken communication or debate b.Aformal discussion of a topic in speech or writing c.Aconnected series of utterances; a text or conversation. (OED) d. None of the above e.Aand C f.Aand B g.A, B and C Multiple choice An object or concept is the: a. Signified b. Signifier c. Representation d. Symbol Multiple Choice The premise of Instrumental Theory/ Neutrality Theory states that: a. The technologies we use are not inherently neutral b. The technologies we use are inherently neutral True or False: The sign or symbol created to represent that object is the signifier. (True) _Hegemonic_ _Ideologies_ are dominant ideologies that strongly influence our social/cultural norms True or False: Signs and symbols are often contextually situated (True) Multiple Choice Ethnocide is: a. Deliberate killing of a group of people b. Deliberate killing of an entire ethnic group Lecture 2 – What is Knowledge What is Knowledge? Today’s Objectives • To introduce the theoretical engagement of knowledge (Epistemology) • To distinguish knowledge from information • To explain the role of the university in the creation, retention, and examination of knowledge • To highlight the importance of critical engagement with knowledge in the Humanities • Definition: Epistemology • Epistemology is “a theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion” (Oxford English Dictionary [OED]) • Epistemological Questions • What is knowledge? • How do we know what we know? • What is the difference between knowledge and opinion or belief? • What role does subjectivity play in our certainties with regard to knowledge? • What social or cultural structures influence the ways in which we (claim to) know things? • What happens when one person’s “known” is in direct opposition to another person’s “known” What is Knowledge? • Knowledge ≠ Information • We obtain information by consulting Google, but this is not necessarily a balanced source • Data, but not a neutral source • Profit motive • Information is ranked • Top dollar = top billing • Search Engine Optimization • Sponsored Results/Ads • Agood reason for consulting the university library search function rather than Google! • Knowledge is information processed through a thinking human mind • Plato defined knowledge as "justified true belief” • Expertise; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject • What is known in a particular field or in total; facts and verified information • Awareness gained by experience of a fact or situation The Role of the University Asocial space in which knowledge is created, stored, transmitted, examined, and critiqued • Teachers, Scholars, and Students • Adynamic relationship • Each forms and informs the other • Not mutually exclusive categories • E.g., Teachers are also learners (students), and vice versa • Knowledge is stored in libraries, textbooks, websites, professors’heads * We engage one another in conversation (literal or imagined via written works), offer critiques and respond to critiques of our own work, and subject all of our scholarly output to a process of peer review • Have you ever wondered why Wikipedia is not an acceptable primary source? • No structure in place to ensure rigorous peer review • Encyclopedia can work as starting point for research • But never the sole, primary, or main source of information The university as a space for construction of knowledge, but also for deconstruction of knowledge Multiple opportunities to continually re-evaluate theories and trends within our disciplines Looking to dismantle and/or correct forms of knowledge or information that have become antiquated, or which harbor prejudices, inequalities, or oppressive tendencies • In short, humans create knowledge • As such, this creation is part of being human • The university is a unique locale, in which the creation and development of knowledge is given special importance University of Toronto’s Statement of Institutional Purpose “The University of Toronto is dedicated to fostering an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish, with vigilant protection for individual human rights, and a resolute commitment to the principles of equal opportunity, equity and justice. Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research.And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself. It is this human right to radical, critical teaching and research with which the University has a duty above all to be concerned; for there is no one else, no other institution and no other office, in our modern liberal democracy, which is the custodian of this most precious and vulnerable right of the liberated human spirit.” Reliability of the Human Mind • How much should we trust our (thinking) human minds? • Our thinking human minds are not entirely reliable • What ramifications might this have? • Consider, for example, the idea that key testimony in court cases is often eye-witness testimony • If memory is that faulty a mechanism, “knowledge” become an even more complicated concept The Role of Sharing Sharing = exchanging knowledge with one another, informing one another, helping each other expand our intellectual horizons The university is the social institution (ideally) created for this very purpose • Knowledge as a shared experience is crucial • Greater possibility of accurate transmission and (re-)investigation • We all become responsible for this knowledge Critical Thinking “The intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depths, breadth, and fairness.” (Nussbaum) Why Does Critical Thinking Matter? • It helps us become and remain aware of the potential limits of universalized truth claims • Humanities scholars often work to critique, problematize, re-consider, and question structures, ideals, ideologies, and theories • Consider this in light of the UofT Mission Statement • What does it mean to think critically in this kind of educational space, in which we are urged to ask “deeply disturbing questions”? • What might these “deeply disturbing questions” be? • Engaging in critical thinking offers us a greater understanding of the world, its different groups of people, their histories, the way they interact • Knowledge as a goal, but knowledge assembled in the spirit of equality and justice Training of the Imagination • The humanities try to provide a systematic and clear account of what is deemed important in the world (no one single answer – highly variable) • Asking questions pertaining to reality and human existence (What is reality?) • Helping people live lives that are satisfying and rich in meaning (What does it mean to live a good life?) • Illuminating aspects of the world that may otherwise remain hidden (In what ways is knowledge obscured?) Lecture 3: What is history? What is History? Today’s Objectives: • To problematize the idea that history is composed of generally impartial records • To introduce “liberationist” thought in reference to history • To provide examples of histories that have been examined “from above” and “from below” History:A“tricky” category • Simple definition: a record of events that took place in the past • “the study of past events, particularly in human affairs… the past considered as a whole” (OED) Mediation • History comes to us via other people • It is never simply us and the raw event Context can shape how history is told and whose history is told • History is not an exact science • Attempts at objectivity are not always successful • “History is written by the victors” • History “from above” • Atop-down structure Liberationist Thought • Critical philosophers and historians have started challenging “official” histories • Liberation theology and liberation philosophy • “Aclear awareness of (histories of oppression) can come to us only from an historical conspectus which emerges from below” (Dussel 132) Conspectus: Ageneral survey of a subject • Central and SouthAmerica - 1960s and 1970s • Enrique Dussel (“Was America Discovered or Invaded?”) is a liberation philosopher from Argentina Emphasizing: • Those who suffer • Those who are oppressed • Those who are victims • Those who are on the “losing” side of history • Shifting the historical focus away from the colonizers and onto those who were colonized • History and the “Victors” • The “victors” are not the only people to emerge from conflict • History often takes on the character and worldview of those on top • This is the “official record” • Passed down through generations • For example, Christopher Columbus • Every year, Columbus’“discovery” is celebrated with a holiday in the USA • Colonization of NorthAmerica led to expansion to Caribbean islands and Central and South America • Exploitation of natural goods (particularly mines) • Slavery, torture, death • Destruction of entire cultures • What did this “discovery” mean from the perspectives of the native inhabitants? Colonialism and Imperialism • Colonialism: “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically” (OED) • Establishing physical “colonies” • Imperialism: “the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas; the extension or imposition of power” (MW) • “a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other mean” (OED) Establishing mental “colonies” • Example: Colonialism • 1492 – late 1800s (~400 years) • Conquistadores: Spanish explorers and military personnel • Central and SouthAmerica • Expanding the Spanish Empire through colonies and exploitation of native peoples and resources • Also, evangelizing: spreading Catholicism (often by force) Permanent shift in the cultures of the region • The majority religion in Central and SouthAmerica is Catholicism • Indigenous people were slaughtered or put into slavery • Increasingly difficult to pass down traditional beliefs • Belief outside Catholicism was prohibited • Many religious items were destroyed • E.g. Silver figures melted down and transported to Spain Syncretism - “the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought” (OED) • E.g. Marian devotion • Mary is a key figure in any form of Catholicism • “Virgin” mother of Jesus of Nazareth • But, this is taken to more extreme lengths in Central and SouthAmerica • Shrines and pilgrimages “Our Lady of Guadalupe” • Mary as Goddess • Colonial powers were dominant powers, changing the social, cultural, and religious landscape • Merging of religions • Unique forms of worship Atotal cultural shift brought on by colonialism • Bartolomé de las Casas • Spanish historian and primary resource Genocide and Ethnocide • Genocide: “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group” (OED) • Ethnocide: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of the culture of an ethnic group” (OED) • Killed off the majority of native men, raped the native women, and took the children to be educated and trained to support euro-centric values and religion • “Uncivilized,” “savage” • Natives as things, not people “The nativeAmerican was seen as a mere material being, devoid of feeling, of history and of humanity – even his name, ‘Indian’, was of Asian origin since it was believed that he was a Hindu from India; he was merely a potential recipient of evangelization who could not and was not expected to make any contribution of any kind – an invented non-being.” (Dussel 127) • Here is where ethnocide comes in • As traditional leaders were being killed, those who remained were forcibly converted to Christianity • “God’s work” = Eradicate native beliefs and practices • With no one to pass these along to later generations, they end up lost in time “Fernandez de Oviedo wondered if native Americans were even human and he stated: ‘These people of the (West) Indies, although rational and of the same race as those of the holy ark of Noah have become irrational and bestial because of their idolatries, sacrifices and devilish ceremonies.’” (Dussel 128) • As fewer and fewer people practice native customs, these begin to disappear • Some still exist, some have been revived, but much was ultimately lost • History “from below” • What happens when we look at these historical events through the eyes of those who were conquered? • Using a different lens to view history “from below” • Americas were not “discovered” • It had been long inhabited by peoples with diverse customs, rituals, beliefs, and ways of living • From the native perspective,America was invaded “The world of the foreign oppressor saw things in terms of a discovery cum conquest while within our subjective American world it was a process of bewilderment, servitude and death. The same events, therefore, generated two quite different sets of feelings and effects.” (Dussel 131) • The question is: Whose history? • Postcolonialism -Academic branch that specifically investigates the legacy of colonial efforts • Looking at patterns in the present to see the effects of the past • Critiques the supposed superiority of “civilized” European cultures • Neocolonialism • Physical colonization may have ceased, but mental colonization remains a theme that required continued engagement • Neocolonialism: “the use of economic, political, cultural, or other pressures to control or influence other countries, especially former dependencies” (OED) • Economic agreements from the period of colonization are often still maintained • Social and economic control • Massive disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” • Use of media to establish Capitalism as a global norm • Encourages view of Western culture as superlative Lecture 4: What is Ideology? What is Ideology? Today’s Objectives: • Defining ideology and offering a variety of examples • Defining and distinguishing “hegemony” and “cultural hegemony” • Bringing these notions together to discussAdorno’s “Culture Industry” • Showing the ramifications of this process, with particular reference to the idea of perspective • Ideology • “Asystem of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy; the set of beliefs characteristic of a social group or individual” (OED) • “Asystematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture; a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture” (MW) Ideologies are sets of ideas which give some account of the social world • Usually a partial and selective account • Amix of conscious and unconscious tendencies • Ideas or values that are related to the ways in which power is distributed socially • Ideologies are usually presented as “natural,” “obvious,” and “common sense” rather than socially produced • What is “common sense” in one society might be offensive or counter-intuitive in another society • Ideologies are often presented as fact, but they are actually constructed Ideology and Perspective • Example: Socialist ideology v. Libertarian ideology (e.g. the “Tea Party”) In socialist nations (and/or social democracies): • Universal health care is considered a right • In general, a strong set of supportive social structures is necessary for a strong society (e.g. financial assistance, literacy programs, etc.) • Higher taxes are tolerated, seen as necessary for such structures to exist • There is a safety net for citizens who fall on hard times For “Tea Party” libertarians: • The idea of something like universal health care is preposterous and offensive • No one should have to contribute money to the well-being of others • More so, it should not be required by law to make such contributions • Taxes should be slim-to-none • No government-mandated social structures • Everything should be privatized and the “marketplace” will decide what is or is not successful • No safety net • If you fall on hard times, it’s up to you to find your way out • Representatives from each of these ideologies would scoff at the other one • To those who adhere to a particular ideology, the beliefs fostered by that ideology seem obviously true, natural, and universally applicable • They may seem obviously arbitrary, idiosyncratic, and false to those who adhere to another ideology “Politics is not only fought out in state houses, workplaces or on battlefields, but also in the language we use, the stories we tell, and the images we conjure — in short, in the ways we make sense of the world.” - Stephen Duncombe Our symbols, our narratives, our histories • All ideologies are inflected by power relationships, within and among themselves • Ideologies may be forcefully imposed or willingly subscribed to • Their component beliefs may be held consciously or unconsciously • They govern our perceptions, judgments, and prejudices—our sense of what is acceptable, normal, and deviant • Ideology causes revolutions; it maintains the status quo; it also allows discrimination, marginalization, and exploitation • Within any culture or society, numerous ideologies coexist • Some are marginalized, others are hegemonic • Hegemonic ideologies are considered dominant; they influence cultural norms Hegemony • “Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others” (OED) • “Preponderant* influence or authority over others; the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group” (MW) • *Preponderant: “Having superior weight, force, or influence” (MW) Ideologies become hegemonic when they are adopted by the dominant class in a given society • Hegemony is often critiqued, and the term usually has a negative inflection • Antonio Gramsci • Gramsci’s primary legacy to scholarship is the theory of cultural hegemony • AMarxist thinker; social and economic “class” Under Mussolini’s fascist reign in Italy, Gramsci’s writings landed him in jail, sentenced to a total of 25 years as a political prisoner • He ultimately died in prison • However, the vast majority of his work was composed while imprisoned, thus offering a unique perspective • Cultural Hegemony • Cultural Hegemony: The theory that the ruling class of a given society superimposes its values (economic, political, religious, etc.) on the lower classes, thereby persuading the latter to accept the status quo, despite this being against their better interests (because the result is often that the lower classes end up with less mobility, if any) Occurs within a pervasive system of assumptions, meanings, and values that shapes the way things look, what they mean, and therefore what reality is for the majority of people within a given culture • Cultural hegemony is how dominant culture maintains its dominant position • It does so through persuasive and coercive means • through the use of institutions to formalize power • the employment of a bureaucracy to make power seem abstract (and therefore not attached to any one individual) • the persuasion of the populace to accept the ideals of the hegemonic group through education, advertising, television programming, the Web, and so on Last week: The ways history is told is often built on the hegemonic ideology (the “victors”) • Short essay #1 on “LiberalArts, and the Advantages of being Useless” • The idea of “useful” or “useless” is also ideologically determined! • What do we generally think of when we hear that something is “useful” or “useless”? • In Western society, the dominant social classes often use mass culture in their response to this struggle • Dissenting groups are turned into “target markets” and consumers • Addressed by the cultural and advertising industries according to their 'demographic' characteristics • One question can sum up the hegemonic ideology of our society… • “What do you do?” Once we define ourselves exclusively by what we do as laborers, and what we have (which is made synonymous with who we are), we become customers toward whom marketing strategies may be directed Pro- or anti-, dominant culture or subculture, those who support this system and those who protest against it – all of these can be accounted for in terms of marketing • Mass Culture and “The Culture Industry” • Culture and cultural forms become products for “selling” to populations Ideas and norms, ways of living, dominant ideology come to be advertised as much as physical, material products • “Culture Industry” implies something constructed • Just as material concerns shape our world, so do the ideologies with which we identify • The purpose of the “Culture Industry” is acceptance and reproduction of the elements that make up the norms of the society • The ideologies of a culture are often transmitted through media • As with history, it matters how our cultural narrative is told “The concepts of order which [the culture industry] hammers into human beings are always those of the status quo…the categorical imperative of the culture industry no longer has anything in common with freedom. It proclaims: you shall conform, without instruction as to what; conform to that which exists anyway, and to that which everyone thinks anyway as a reflex of its power and omnipresence. The power of the culture industry’s ideology is such that conformity has replaced consciousness.” (Adorno) • For example, Capitalism is a hegemonic ideology of the West, as is Democratic governance • It is very difficult for us to conceive of realistic approaches to social relations and politics outside of these two constructs • Alternatives that are offered are generally ridiculed, or deemed deeply dangerous (e.g. Capitalism v. Socialism) • Asystem of economics or exchange without a profit motive seems foreign and unrealistic, because it is so far removed from the way we are taught to see the world Again, “What do you do?” = identification of the person with their place in labour and their purchasing power (monetary worth) • “Value”? • “Useful” or “useless”? • Capitalist structure • “Value” = Monetary Value The culture industry, forAdorno, works only to reproduce this dominant structure • These reproductions are ultimately representations of a specific way of living • An endless repetition of the same • Parody: Every Teaser Trailer Ever (~3 min) • Representation = Power • Representations are always influenced by ideology, particularly the hegemonic ideologies of a given society or culture • Representations always frame reality in very specific ways • Representations are always partial • How something is represented matters • Biased, abstract, or incorrect representations can lead to false perceptions based on stereotypes “7:19 pm HundredsArrested on Brooklyn Bridge In a tense showdown over the East River, police arrested hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators after they marched onto the bridge’s Brooklyn-bound roadway.” • There are always issues of power and control in representations • We must ask: Who or what is responsible for the representation? • What is the agenda? • To what extent are representations accurate or typical in a given society? • In what ways do representations perpetuate stereotypes? • In any representation or ideology, who gains and who suffers? Here, the idea behind the term “terrorist” is represented via images of Middle Eastern people and groups, as well as symbols of Islam Implies that Terrorist = Middle Eastern = Islam We saw the potential repercussions of this in last week’s film, Reel BadArabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People Today is tomorrow’s history, and today’s hegemonic ideology is tomorrow’s dominant narrative of history • What is at stake here? • What isn’t at stake here?! Lecture 5: What is Discourse? What is Discourse? • Today’s Objectives • To describe and link the ideas of discourse, communication, and language • To highlight the ideological character of the signs and symbols that make up discourse, communication, and language • To provide examples which illustrate the ideological structure of signs and symbols within our present context Discourse • Written or spoken communication or debate; • Aformal discussion of a topic in speech or writing; • Aconnected series of utterances; a text or conversation. (OED) Academic Discourse • “…the real intellectual world, the one that existed in the big world beyond school, is organized very much like the world of team sports, with rival texts, rival interpretations and evaluations of texts, rival theories of why they should be read and taught, and elaborate team competitions in which ‘fans’of writers, intellectual systems, methodologies, and –isms contend against each other.” (TSIS 384) Communication • All discourse is built on communication • Communication of intentions, ideas, feelings, etc. • The give-and-take that makes up discourse and conversation • Communication is largely composed of language Language • “The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way; a non-verbal method of expression or communication” (OED) • Spoken words, written words, music, sounds, gestures, posture (“body language”) • If language is the form or method of human communication, the content is made of signs and symbols Signs and Symbols • Sign: “an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else” (OED) • Symbol: “a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract” (OED) Signs and Symbols are Representations • For present purposes, they are components of language with which meaningful utterances are built • Signs and symbols are often contextually situated • Their meaning is specific to a particular community • However, there are symbols that are similarly meaningful across contexts Our Common Sign-System • Semiotics/Semiology • The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation • Signs can be verbal, visual, or auditory • Text, image, and sound are all forms of language, constructed by symbols Key founders: Charles Sanders Peirce and Ferdinand de Saussure • The connection between signifier and signified is arbitrary; they are not in a “natural” relationship where meaning is a given Arbitrariness • Arbitrary = based on random choice… rather than any reason or system (OED) • When we say the linguistic symbol “tree,” we see in our mind a picture of a tree • However, that linguistic symbol could be anything • The meaning that is ascribed to it is what counts, so long as that meaning is commonly understood • “Peace?” The Importance of Context • De Saussure argued that signs only make sense as part of a formal, generalized and abstract system • Implications (“So what?”) • Implication #1: We can only think within the terms of the sign system. We cannot think outside it. • Languages are merely forms of the same content • “Tree,” “árbol,” “arbre,” “Baum,” “strom,” “puu” • All are various symbolic representations of the same content; different signifiers of the same signified [TEXT] [IMAGE] [SOUND] = [REPRESENTATION] • We create meaning about the world around us through representation • This process of meaning-making through representation takes place via systems • For example, we must learn the rules and conventions of the system of writing in order to write and understand what is read • Likewise, we must also learn the rules and conventions of visual images to understand what we see Implication #2 • There is no “transcendental signifier” • Transcendental signifier: Asingular, quintessential signifier that gives meaning to all related signs • We cannot single out a particular sign that defines or gives meaning to the signifier-signified system • There is no single sign that stands outside the system of meaning to organize it as a totality • Even though an individual sign such as “tree” has meaning in isolation, this meaning nevertheless depends on understanding it in relation to all the other signs within the system • A“tree” is a tree because it is not a dog, a lake, or a shrub, or anything else other than a tree Narrows further between like and kind • A“maple tree” is a maple tree because it is not cedar, ash, pine, etc. • Meaning comes through presence and absence • For example, if you’d only seen this… • Meaning throughAbsence • Within sign-sets (signifiers of related, but not identical, signified objects) we know something is “a” because it is not “b” • A“tree” is a tree because it is not a shrub, a hedge, a bush, a flower, a blade of grass, etc. • Absence of these other signs give presence to the sign “tree” • All sign systems are imbued with ideologies and therefore carry issues of power and representation • E.g. “History” as a system of signs as representations • Every sign system contains ideological weight Example: Newspeak/Doublespeak • “Ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda” (OED) • Euphemism = Using a mild term or phrase to represent something unpleasant or offensive • Newspeak/Doublespeak = Language intended to obscure the actual events it is describing • An alternate and deceptive signifier system for common “signifieds” • “Collateral Damage” Verbal Camouflage(3:41) • “There are no potholes in the streets of Tucson, Arizona, just ‘pavement deficiencies.’ The Regan Administration didn’t propose any new taxes, just ‘revenue enhancement’through new ‘user’s fees’… There are no more poor people, just ‘fiscal underachievers’… The patient didn’t die because of medical malpractice, it was just a ‘diagnostic misadventure of a high magnitude.’The USArmy doesn’t kill the enemy anymore, it just ‘services the target.’” (Ericsson, The World of Doublespeak) • Asign = a representation, and a representation = a sign • In creating meaning through exclusion, signs often help represent binary organizations of people or ideas • E.g., if a person is not male, then she is female • We consent to sign-systems and their meanings every day Lecture 6: What is Technology? What is Technology? Today’s Objectives • To offer an expanded definition of “technology” • To present a variety of theories of technology • To connect these definitions and theories to Ong’s article, “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought” Technology • “The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry; machinery and devices developed from scientific knowledge” (OED) • “The use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems” (MW) • “The branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment; a scientific or industrial process, invention, method, or the like;the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization” (dictionary.com) Using science and innovation • To create things • And develop processes • To solve problems • In a practical way Which of the following are examples of “technology”? • Shoe • iPad • Chair • Wireless router • Light bulb • Spear • They are all technologies! “Technology” is a broad category • E.g., Ong, “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought” • If writing is a technology, then pretty much anything can be considered technology • Writing is an innovation composed of things (language – words, letters/signs, symbols) to solve the problem of transmitting information beyond the boundaries of oral culture Human Exclusivity (?) • Technologies are tools – things with which we do other things • Part of what makes us human • Tool use radically altered life among early humans • E.g. Creation of the spear led to more effective hunting techniques • Spear Hunting (1:45) • AWhole "Tool Kit” (4:11) Technology and/as Mediation • As tools, technologies are necessarily established between ourselves and the object or issue being engaged by those technologies • Examples: • Early humans – spear – prey • (spear mediates between predator and prey) • Student – computer/word processing – essay • (computer program mediates between student and written work) • Me – hot pot – coffee • (hot pot mediates between me and my sweet, sweet coffee) • (Global?) Technological Development • Our understandings of what it means to be human are increasingly mediated by technical decisions • The “tools” we use shape who and what we are Facebook and the meaning of “friendship” • Television and the dominance of visual culture • Automobiles and the decline of pedestrianism • Clocks and the centrality of timeliness • However, many of our most important technologies are largely inaccessible for the majority of people in the world • In its ideal conception, the internet offers a space for making connection
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