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Lecture 4

CS203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Media Studies, Daniel Chandler, Culture Jamming

Communication Studies
Course Code
Greigory De Peuter

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semiotics a branch of philosophy in linguistics
focuses on meaning
1. Cultural studies
close links to semiotics
Extremely diverse tradition
Tends to group to gether a vast range of perspectives
A relatively young academic field
Roots usually traced to a group of scholars in about the
1960s, who started to take popular culture seriously as a
subject of academic study
oMany of these early scholars were themselves educated
in english
oEnded up putting their skills to work to examine
everyday popular culture
Branch of critical research related to comm studies
As far as media is concerned, research in acultural studies
examines the ways various audiences engage in media
oThe construction of meaning in society
Where semiotics is really influencial in cultural
Stuart Hall
oThe work of representation
2. Representation
Daniel Chandler: to do semiotics is to investigate how
meanings are made and how reality is represented
One of the most common uses of the word is in its political
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oRepresentation refers to the responsibility of elected
representatives to speak for their constituents whether
it be a representative in the Laurier students union etc
oA small number of individuals represent a much bigger
population and make decisions on their behalf
Representation is rarely perfect
oE.g., strike against tuition increases in Quebec
oRepresentation political or otherwise is often detested
or challenge
oRepresentation is a site of struggle
Representation in a symbolic sense
oThe concept of representation has a really important
place in comm studies especially in terms of
examination of media messages or content
oRepresentation according to Gasher is at the very heart
of our field
When we study communication, and particularly
Fundamental to understand to get a feel of what
our field is about
oAs Hall explains, at the very core of representation is
Representation is an essential part of the process
by which meaning is produced….. p 15 of reading
oAt the most basic level, representations stand for their
E.g., a country’s flag
Represents the nation
“we cannot have trees in our sentences; we need
words to represent them” – Freadman
oSystems of representation – Hall
A system of representation in which all sorts of
objects, people and events are correlated with a
set o concepts or mental representations which
we carry around in our heads
Representation is the production of the meaning
of the concepts in our minds through language. It
is the link between concepts and language which
enables us to refer to either the real world of
objects, people or events, or indeed to imaginary
worlds of fictional objects, people and events
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oGasher: the act of putting ideas into words, paintings,
sculpture, film etc.
oMedia industries supply the representations through
which we understand
oE.g., a map
A map is not the actual place; but as Gasher says,
it is a representation of the place that it seeks to
oRepresentation are inherently selective
A representation is a simplification of reality
Gasher: in putting ideas into any medium of
comm, a person selects certain elements of reality
to describe the object…. He or she chooses to
Do this in all sorts of rituals of communication
oA basic premise of cultural studies, knowledge is a
function of practices of representation are not
necessarily neutral
Some representations aren’t overly controversial,
but other representation have very high stakes
attached to them
E.g., how 9/11 is represented, how young people
are represented, how a hoodie is represented
Dyer: how we are seen determines in part how we
are treated; how we treat others is based on how
we see them and such seeing comes from
How people are seen is likely to impact how
they are treated
Representation matters because it has
social consequences
Familiar grievances: representation can be
skewed with racism, or sexism etc.
Because of this way in which representaitons are
related to power and inequality, scholars in
cultural studies are engaged in the politics of
Durham and Kellner: calls attention to
aspects of cultural texts that reproduce
class, gender, racial and diverse forms of
3. Semiotics
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