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Joe Hermer

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“Politics of Seeing” Assignment – Deviance and Normality I Summer 2013
Prof. J. Hermer
Due: July 31 by 5pm in the Hermer paper drop box (2nd floor social science building)
Worth: 35% of final mark
Select a print advertisement that relies and manipulates dominant social norms in
creating an advertising or advocacy message. Use your imagination and take some time
going through a number of publications in picking an example; selecting an ad with
that has a complex message will allow you to engage the questions below in a rich and
complete way. In addition to print advertising, you may take a picture of a billboard or
other advertisement in public space. Internet sources are not allowed.
1. As an introduction to your paper, explain where you found the ad, and whom
you think the audience or ‘intended reader’ is.
2. In carrying out a ‘semiotic’ analysis of the ad, draw as distinctly as you can on
the “Practices of Looking” reading in the following ways:
a) Define what “representation” is and how it differs from mimesis, using the ad as
an example
b) Describe the two ways one can read the ad you have chosen – connotative and
c) Based on this explanation, identify how the connotative character of the ad relies
on specific norms the reader is assumed to have – how the ad assumes an audience
that has a particular set of social and cultural assumptions and expectations in terms
of a ‘normal’ view of the world. BE SPECIFIC in identifying what norms the ad
relies on in communicating the message.
d) Describe what Barthes described as ‘myth’ and discuss in relation to your ad
e) What is an iconic image and does your ad rely on one in creating meaning?
f) Provide an example of an audience that you think the ad might not be
presented to, given its “normative” character, and explain why. BE CREATIVE!
The assignment MUST not exceed 1000 words. Please staple the original ad to the
back of your paper, and include a title page with only the following information:
your name and student number on the upper right had corner, a title for the
assignment, and the date submitted.
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