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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Michael Petit

7. Psychoanalytic Analysis -Psychoanalysis approach is grounded in the genesis of individual psychology, the psychology of the media text and the way in which the two interact in the process of media consumption -Pleasure principle is the uncontrollable human drive to satisfy desire -Desire is an appetite for something that promises enjoyment, satisfaction and pleasure in its attainment -pleasure doesn’t refer only to aspects of comfort or joy but also allows us to transcend everyday existence and reality -ecstasy carries connotations of literally being beside oneself with powerful emotion -id- inherited or instinctual part of psyche -ego- regulatory part of the conscious mind -reality principle- constant curbing of desire according to possibility, law or social convention- it intercedes and regulates the individual’s experience of pleasure- associate with ego -2 ways to consider the relation b/w pleasure and reality principle: Repression and Lack -Repression- proposed by Freud is the process of mentally containing our desires below conscious recognition or expression -unconscious- For Freudpart of mind acts as reservoir for desire and attempts to make repressed desires felt again. For Lacanshared realm of pleasures and desires that remain beyond our access b/c of the insufficiencly of language in knowing these pleasures -Freudian slip-repressed desires break through the conscious ones -Lack- proposed by Jacques Lacan- there is not so much struggle b/w pleasure and reality as there is a gap that separates them -Freud- infants are born- Polymorphously perverseability to experience pleasure in infinite ways -oralanalphallic -oral=union b/w mother and childbreastfeeding (comforting fantasies) -anal=retention and expulsion of waste (sadistic fantasies) -phallic=shifting libidinal concentration to genitals (fantasies of control and self-sufficiency) -Oedipus complex-splitting of libidinal materials of 3 stages into conscious and unconscious desires -Lacanian psychoanalysis recognizes 3 separate orders of human existence: Real, Imaginary and symbolic -Imaginary- similar to pre-Odedipal stage, infant feels whole and connected to everything via the bond to mother -mirror state= child catches its reflection in mirror misrecognizes as autonomous and whole-link b/w outside images and individual subjectivity -Symbolic- cultural place of social meanings and relationships. Analogous to reality principlelanguage structures , orders and constrains the impulse for the Imaginary desire 1 -Law of father-Symbolic- social convention and norms that represent patriarchal power to child -Lack dominates the ways we understand life and decisions we make -Phallocentrism is a social condition where images or representations of the penis carry connotations of power and dominance -Apparatus theory- Jean-Louis Baudryactual environment and machinery of the cinema activates a number of psychoanalytic desires within spectators. Reconstructs the situation necessary to the release of the mirror stage -Scopophilia- passion for perceiving- pleasure that comes from the process of looking- Freud calls it one of the primary sexual pleasures -Voyeurism- process of experiencing pleasure by watching a desired object of person from a distance -Fetishism- psychic structuring of an object or person as a source of sexual pleasure. It is an important part of navigating the Oedipus complex and castration anxiety. Child overcome the contradictions and fears inherent in the Oedipal stage -male gaze- male/subject/looker and female/object/looked at. Spectators experience scopophilic pleasure in 2 ways 1) by identifying with the male gaze 2) identifying with male characters -fantasy- mental representation of conscious or unconscious wish fulfillment. Primary function intrinsically tied to issues of desire and pleasure in the infant psyche. 2 very important concepts- desiring creates fantasy and fantasy is a scene of desire 8. Feminist Analysis -Feminism is a political project that explores the diverse ways men and women are socially empowered and disempowered. It is focused on deconstructing sexist oppression -Sexism is discrimination based upon a person’s sex. -Sex refers to the innate, biological differentiation between men and women: anatomy, reproduction, harmones, etc -Gender refers to the culturally constructed differences b/w men and women: tastes, roles, activities etc -Essentialism- the belief that gender distinctions are innate and natural -Patriarchy- system of power relations in which women’s interests are subordinated to those of men -Stereotype- misleading and simplified representation of a particular social group. They help individuals make sense of an increasingly contemporary society. They often blend realistic aspects of life into inaccurate assumptions and false of trains- “kernel of truth” to every stereotype -stereotypes of masculinity are defined by power, significance, agency and social influence -Stereotypes of femininity are defined by powerlessness, insignificance, passiveness and limited control 2 - four interrelated stereotypical binaries are active/passive, public/private, logical/emotional and sexual subject/sexual object -Post feminism- refers to a conceptual shift within popular understanding of feminism: an evolution in feminist emphasis from the systemic oppression of all women to the empowerment of individual women -First-wave feminism- 19 -20 - fought for women rights to vote -Second wave- 1970s who fought for women’s workplace and reproductive rights -One of the most prevalent effects of mediated gender stereotypes is the proliferation of eating disorders- construct women as passive or sexually attractive tend to emphasize the absolute necessity of a slender figure -representations of men with slender waists, rock-hard abs and huge biceps place pressure on individual men to live up to standards of masculinity -these texts also influence the make-up of social institutions and stereotypes also reinforce those attitudes and help shape them through workplace and govt. policies. Ex. Issue of pay- gender expectations cause fewer women to pursue higher paying jobs -glass ceiling- informal, gendered workplace policies that allow women to progress only so far in promotion. The logic is that women lack qualities of assertiveness and rational thinking that management positions require 9. Queer Analysis -Queer media scholars attempt to understand how media texts contribute to the ordering of human understandings of gender, sex and sexuality -Queer Theory is an interdisciplinary perspective that seeks to disrupt socially constructed systems of meaning surrounding human sexuality -Queer is used as an umbrella term to refer to any and all people whose individual sexualities do not fit into the traditional understanding of heterosexuality -Sexuality is an enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction toward others based upon their gender or sex -just as mistaking gender expectations for inherent biology gives rise to sexist social systems, assuming that heterosexuality/homosexuality binary represents human sexuality results in the unequal distribution of social power -heteronormativity or heterosexism- the system of inequity derived from the heterosexual/homosexual binary- it refers to a diverse set of social practices that function to perpetuate the heterosexual/homosexual binary and privilege heterosexuality. These social practices maintain distinction b/w heterosexuality and homosexuality out of necessity and must convince people that the distinct categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality do exist even if they are not as easily demarcated as biological sex. Constructed institution of heterosexualitycompulsive -sexual othering- process of stigmatizing homosexuality or any non-heterosexual practice as abnormal to privilege heterosexuality 3 -Sexual stereotypes- Natural/deviant, Monogamous/Promiscuous, Gender clarity/ Gender ambiguity -visbility- number of queer characters present in the media -representation- way that those queers act, feel and engage in storylines -discursive construction- social construction made invisible, natural normal and indeed biological by its discursive aspects -Michael Foucault- interested in understanding how discourse, or the collective language and symbol systems employed by a given culture/society enables certain ways of acting and knowing. Rather than conceive of sexuality as a constant quality of humanity. Foucault proposes a theory of sexuality as a discursive construct that allows people to conceive of a thing called “sexuality” as an innate or biological quality. However with the rise of religious, medical and political discourses surrounding sexuality in the 17 century, the notion of homosexuality became a coherent classification of people. -Foucoult sees this transition in understanding sexual practices in the light of marital relations to a focus on the individual as a historical conflation of the deployment of alliance and the deployment of sexuality. The deployment of alliance is the historical tendency is almost every society to understand the social fabric according to relationships namely a system of marriage. Deployment of sexuality is the more recent historical tendency to understand individuals as possessing sexuality primarily throught sensations of the body, quality of the pleasures and nature of impressions -Butler contends that gender, rather than a coherent component of identity incorporated through socialization is in fact a bodily performance of discourse that exists only b/c people believe it is significant. People behave in certain ways b/c of a cultural construct called “gender” which they have internalized into their identity. Gender only exists b/c people act as gendered beings. Actions that are supposedly the output or manifestation of an inner quality called gender are in fact the only force that constiturtes any concept of personal gender in the first place. This is the major premise of butler’s theory of gender performativity. She concludes that only by understanding gender as discourse made bodily can we begin to theorize resistance to power -gender performativity- gender, rather than a coherent component of identity incorporated through socialization, is in fact a bodily performance of discourse that exists only b/c people believe it is significant 10. Reception Analysis -Reception scholar primarily seek to understand the personal meanings that individuals make of mass media texts in relation to their lived social systems and experiences -Reception theory- an approach that stresses audience interpretation as the primary site of meaning- making. Reception scholars admit that media owners might have the economic power to craft media texts with particular messages but it is audiences who determine what a text ultimately signifies or how it actually functions in their own lives -earliest model of media effects audience as “mindless vessels”hypodermic needle approach- how mass media injected particular meanings into consumers 4 -Paul Lazarsfeld proposed the “two-step flow model’posited that certain individuals in the audience attended more carefully to media than others; proposed that the meanings of media messages were clear and definite -George Gerbner cultivation analysis. Individuals who watch heavy amounts of television are hyperconscious to issues of danger and violence in their everyday lives -Donald Shaw and Maxwell McCombs theory of media agenda-setting. Claim that popular media outlets like news stations tell the American public what to think about and how to think about it: they set the national agenda and fuel public concern -Uses & Gratification theoryfirst to begin thinking of audiences as empowered to select their access to specific media and to use that media within the ranges of possibility. Assumes that individuals consciously consume media texts for their own ends, purposefully reworking textual meaning in order to integrate the text into their daily life -Stuart HallEncoding/decoding model, emphasis on the production, negotiation and reception of ideological messages b/w classes -A code is a set of rules that govern the use of visual and linguistic signs within a culture. Codes are never neutral, they are always representations of meaning not meaning itself, they compel us to interpret the world according to rules of the code. This interpretation occurs in two related momemnts or encoding and decoding -Encoding- process of creating a meaningful message according to a particular code. The left-hand “encoding side” of the model is primarily concerned with how dominant ideologies come to exist in mass-mediated texts. The resulting meaning is called the preferred reading or desired interpretation of the text -Decoding is the process of using a code to decipher a message and formulate meaning. The right-hand decoding side of the model shows how audiences can actually interpret or read media texts according to three possible codes or positions: dominant, oppositional and negotiated. 1. dominant reading- understand the text according to its preferred meaning. Producers and consumers share the same code. 2. Oppositional reading- recognize the preferred reading but reject them in favor of completely different code/meaning. 3. Negotiated reading- decode part of text in accordance with industry code and part of it with an alternative code -John FiskePolysemy “many meanings”relative openness of media texts to multiple interpretations. -Semiotic excess= surplus of signifiers in the text that do not reference clear signifieds and the degree of polysemy in a text is relative to the text’s level of semiotic excess. The greater the semiotic excess and polysemy the more audiences can negotiate and manage personal meanings”Producerly”= open writerly text -Cordit Polyvalence= when audience members share understandings of the denotations of a text but disagree about the valuation of those denotations to such a degree that they produce notably different interpretations. Differs from polysemy in that the difference b/w audience members is one of connotation, not of meaning as a whole 5 -Ceccarelii3 primary tupes of polysemy help us better understand the process of audience reception. They are resistive reading, strategic ambiguity and hermeneutic depth 1.Resistive reading (quality of audience)- active, audience-based creation of textual meaning that is contrary to the meaning intended by the text’s author, creator or producer 2. Strategic ambiguity (quality of text and its creator)-intentional decision to craft a vague, semantically rich text that is purposefully open to multiple interpretations. When textual producers are faced with conflicting demands from different audiences, they may navigate through these by attempting to satisfy all of them with the same text 3. Hermeneutic depth (quality of the critic or analyst)- refers to the critical recognition of multiple meanings in a text as the source of its overall meaning -Stanley FishInterpretive communities= all meaning resides in the readers and audiences of texts -interpretive strategy= our ways of understanding create meaning in the text, the only meaning a text can have -Interpretive communities: groups who interpret texts similarly b/c they share similar social positions and experiences. Interpretive communities give rise to all producers, texts and audiences in the first place -Ethnography is a qualitative research method that focuses on understanding a cultural phenonmenon from the perspective of the members of that culture. Ethnographers immerse themselves in culture through observation, interviews etc -Immersion accomplishes 2 goals: 1) it minimizes the researcher’s cultural biases by displacing his own culture as the basis for judgement and 2) yields additional understanding about how the phenomenon in question functions within the larger, complex practices of a particular cultural group - almost any “culture” can be analyze
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