CCT210H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Film Theory, Eminem, Connotation

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Published on 19 Oct 2016
School
Course
Semiotics
Ryder: “a branch of communication theory that investigates sign systems and
modes of representation that humans use to convey feelings, thoughts,
ideas and ideologies
Umberto Eco: “everything which can be used to lie”
Sign
something that stands for something or someone else, with no intrinsic meaning
takes form in words, images, sounds, odours, flavours, acts or objects
Saussure
2/dyadic part model for sign
signifier: the form which the sign takes
signified: the concept that its represents
value of a sign depends on relations with other signs within the system as a
whole
No absolute value on its own, need context
No necessary intrinsic, direct or inevitable relationship btw the 2 parts
Agreed to be convention
HOWEVER not all signifying systems are socially or historically arbitrary
E.g. language, colours
A sign is arbitrary a priori (in theory) but ceases to be arbitrary a posteriori
(from observations) after it comes into historical existence, cannot just be
arbitrarily changed
Peirce
3 part model
Representamen: form (doesn’t have to be material) = signifier
Interpretant: =/= interpreter, but sense made of the sign = signified
Object: to which the sign refers (doesn’t have to be real or physical)
E.g. red light is representamen, vehicles must stop = interpretant, vehicles
actually stopping = object
Different categories
symbol/symbolic: signifier does not resemble the signified, purely
conventional, relationship must be learned (e.g. language)
icon/iconic: signifier resembles the signified somewhat, possessing
some qualities (e.g. a portrait, imitative gestures)
index/indexical: signifier is not arbitrary but directly connected in
some way, link can be observed or inferred (e.g. smoke to fire, pain to
illness)
Semiosis
Interaction btw the representamen, the object and the interpretant
Comprehension and production of signs
Morris further adapted Pierce within semiosis
1. The sign vehicle, which orients a person toward a goal
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2. The interpreter or subject of the semiotic activity
3. The object to which the sign refers
4. The
interpretant
, which is the cognitive reaction elicited in the mind to the
interpreter
Social cultural perspective, the sign isn’t innocent, orienting/lying, every part
plays a role, argues that semiosis to a form of behaviourism - “goal-seeking
behaviour in which signs exercise control”
This is how it will be viewed in this course
Barthes
All images have two levels of meaning
Denotation: definitional, literal, obvious, self-contained mostly
Connotation: cultural, historical and personal associations of the sign;
expand application of signs creatively, expressive values
Myth: combination of above two to produce ideology; sign which refers to a
broad general cultural meaning; an experience or event or thing is mystified
when the myth obscures the particulars
“Dominant ideologies of our time” - Chandler “serves ideological function
of naturalization/naturalize/make dominant cultural and historical
values, attitudes, beliefs seem natural and common-sense
Barthes: “bourgeois ideology...turns culture into nature”
History into nature
Or extended metaphors
Metaphors help us to make sense of/conceptualizing our
experiences within a culture
Shared set of cultural beliefs, widespread/the norm/should not be
questioned, ideas often embedded in symbols, etc.
Difference btw myths and ideology?
Myths: social function is to bind together social groups
as wholes to establish social consensus
Ideology: social function is to segregate and serve
special interests within societies in the competition of
debate
E.g. myth of femininity (our perceptions of gender roles)
vs “a woman’s place is in the home
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Lye: To demystify, pay attention to the particulars, the specifics, the
concrete reality with all blemishes and contradictions
Chandler
The three orders are not clear-cut
In the third (mythological or ideological) order of signification the sign reflects
major culturally-variable concepts underpinning a particular worldview -
such as masculinity, femininity, freedom
Media/Our mediated world
mediated meaning is a signifier that has been recycled by the media
Emergence and diffusion of the electronic mass media in the 20th century has
also changed the course of history and has also facilitated distance
communication and brought about a global form of culture -> pop culture
Binary oppositions
A pair of theoretical opposites, of which one is perceived to be
dominant (e.g. white and black, men and women)
myths are often structured by this (e.g. racism)
Neomania: obsess/rave about newest thing
Juvenilization: constant need to be youthful (old = out of touch)
Codes
The meaning of a sign depends on the code within which it is situated, codes
provide a framework within which signs make sense
Can be verbal or nonverbal (e.g. language, painting, music)
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Document Summary

Ryder: a branch of communication theory that investigates sign systems and modes of representation that humans use to convey feelings, thoughts, ideas and ideologies . Umberto eco: everything which can be used to lie . Something that stands for something or someone else, with no intrinsic meaning. Takes form in words, images, sounds, odours, flavours, acts or objects. Signifier: the form which the sign takes. Value of a sign depends on relations with other signs within the system as a whole. No necessary intrinsic, direct or inevitable relationship btw the 2 parts. No absolute value on its own , need context. However not all signifying systems are socially or historically arbitrary. A sign is arbitrary a priori (in theory) but ceases to be arbitrary a posteriori (from observations) after it comes into historical existence, cannot just be arbitrarily changed. Representamen : form (doesn"t have to be material) = signifier.

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