CCT210 Midterm Review
Part I: Short Definitions
- A pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning. Binary opposition is the
means by which the units of language have value or meaning; each unit is defined in reciprocal
determination with another term, as in binary code. Saussure demonstrated that a sign's
meaning is derived from its context and the group to which it belongs. Ex. We know the sign of
being ‘good’ because we understand the concept of ‘evil’.
- Drawing on their knowledge of the world and of the medium. Modality judgments involve
comparisons of textual representations with models drawn from the everyday world and with
models based on the genre; they are therefore obviously dependent on relevant experience of
both the world and the medium.
- Polysemy is the capacity for a sign(s) to have multiple related meanings. Multiple meanings may
often be unrelated. Those who reject textual determinism and emphasize the 'polysemic'
nature of texts - their plurality of meanings. Ex. Crane (a bird, a construction equipment,
straining ones neck), Man (human species, male of the human species, adult version of a boy)
- A defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable
attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world. For example, a person
who is rude may accuse other people of being rude. Also used by audience when watching films,
project a fictional version of themselves unto a film/game.
- Having qualities or characteristics that are especially appealing or attractive when presented in
the mass media. Tending to convey a favorable impression when reported by the media. Often
subjects thought of by the news media as an attractive subject. (ex. Murders/robberies?) Asém Harun
CCT210 Midterm Review
Part II: Short Answer
1. At around the same time Saussure was formulating his model of the sign, Charles Sanders Peirce
formulated his own model of the sign. Discuss the two models, giving examples for each, and
explaining both their similarities and how they differ.
Saussure believed that determining a sign consisted of a two part model. He states that a sign is
composed both of a signifier and a signified. The signifier is the form which a sign takes and the
signified is the concept it represents. Saussure states that both the signifier and signified is what defines
the sign itself. Saussure also states that the value of a sign is determined by the relationships between
a sign and other signs within the system. He also believes that a signifier and signified doesn’t
necessarily have to relate. (Ex. Open, signifier is the word open, signified is the concept that a store is
open for customers).
Like Saussure, Pierce’s theory contains a signifier and signified but he adds one more concept. Pierce’s
three part model is the representamen (signifier, doesn’t have to be tangible), interpretant (signified),
and an object to which the sign refers to. Pierce also believes that the relationship between a signifier
and signified must be learnt. (ex. A traffic light, representamen is the red light facing traffic,
interpretant is that red light means vehicles must stop, vehicles stopping are the object).
Pierce believed anything that is ‘knowable’ could be a sign, whereas Saussure focused only on linguistic
3. With reference to O’Shaugnessy and Stadler, discuss how both audiences and producers of texts
rely on semiotics (signs, codes, myths, metaphors, etc.) when encoding and decoding texts.
- decoding a text is to make sense of it regardless of it having actual writing
- impossible to make full sense of a text in isolation (audience often need pre-existing knowledge
(codes) when watching certain movies)
- Audience could understand text better by finding out the motivations of those involved in a certain
production (what was the reason they made this)
- The concept of when and where the text is being read is important (Space and Time)
o Whether particular advertisement appears in a teenage magazine or men’s soft porn
o Whether ads in a newspaper which are read in the morning or during movies which are
usually watched during the evening.
- Concept of direct effects (media transmits powerful messages to audience members who are
strongly affected by it. Also cultivation (media gives long term exposure to audiences attitudes
and beliefs through persistent messages/images)
- Concept of projection. Audience sees aspects of themselves which they aren’t really aware of.
Audience project themselves unto a fictional world etc.
- Media meanings are dependent on text, context and its audience
5. Explain ho