MDSA01 Chapters 7 - 12 Final Exam Study Notes

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Department
Media Studies
Course
MDSA01H3
Professor
Michael Petit
Semester
Fall

Description
MDSA01 Chapters 7-12 Final Exam Study Notes Chapter 7 Psychoanalytic Analysis Sigmund Freud attempts to understand the physic structure of the mind, Psychoanalytic scholars explore how media texts reflect human mental drives toward unity, pleasure, and desire Sigmund Freud notions of individual subjectivity, identity, and consciousness are born out of an essential opposition between what he called the pleasure principle and the reality principle The Pleasure principle is the uncontrollable human drive to satisfy desire, or an appetite for something that promises enjoyment, satisfaction, and pleasure in its attainment - Commonly recognized desires include yearnings for sex, power, or food The reality principle represents the constant curbing of desire according to possibility, law, or social convention - As infants we are driven by the pure, uncontrolled gratification of desire, but we learn to control that drive as we grow older and integrate into society Psychoanalytic theory posits that the human psyche is born out of the tense relationship between the pleasure and reality principles. There are two major ways to consider the nature of this relationship: repression and lack Repression, proposed by Freud, is the process of mentally containing our desires below conscious recognition or expression Unconscious, for Freud is the part of the mind that acts as a reservoir for desire and it always attempts to make repressed desires felt again by interjecting them into conscious life Lack is based on the theories of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan - In this perspective, there is not so much a struggle between pleasure and reality as there is a gap that separates them Freudian Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud - Claims that an individual’s identity, far from being inherent or preordained, was actually the result of outside forces encountered in early life - According to Freud, infants are born “polymorphously perverse”, or with the ability to experience pleasure in an infinite number of ways, because they have no self-control and are uninhibited by social conventions - Newborns are also unaware of their individual nature, and they understand the world they inhabit only as an extension of themselves Eventually the child will progress through the other two stages of sexual development: the anal and phallic stages Psychoanalytic scholar Anthony Elliot points out that each stage is accompanied by specific fantasies integral to the developing sexual identity: The oral stage features comforting fantasies The anal stage hosts sadistic fantasies The phallic stage involves fantasies of control and self-sufficiency Though the sexual pleasures and fantasies of these stages, “the child creatively and imaginatively establishes an emotional relation to its own body, to other people and the wider world.” Oedipus complex “The girl’s Oedipus stage is understood to be relatively unstable, forever shifting between maternal and paternal identifications, and thereby always incomplete Chapter 9 Queer Analysis Queer theory is an interdisciplinary perspective that seeks to disrupt socially constructed systems of meaning surrounding human sexuality Sexuality is an enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction toward others based upon their gender or sex While sexuality is particular to each individual, the social constructions of heterosexuality and homosexuality are cultural categories humans use to make sense of their sexuality The system of inequity derived from the heterosexual/homosexual binary is called heteronormativity (or heterosexism). It refers to a diverse set of social practices that function to perpetuate the heterosexual/homosexual binary and privilege heterosexuality. Heteronormative social practices maintain the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality out of necessity. Remember that sexism rests upon the visible differences between men and women, and systems of sexist power seem to have some biological or physical component to support them Heteronormative practices encourage individuals to identify with heterosexuality from an early age and regularly re-convince people that it is mutually exclusive to homosexuality Homosexuality provides an opposite and a point to heterosexuality. As Queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick pointedly puts it, “The gay closet is not a feature only of the lives of gay people.” The process of stigmatizing homosexuality (or really any non-heterosexual practice) as abnormal to privilege heterosexuality is called sexual offering Queer theorists attempt to destabilize the sexual binary and reveal heterosexual privilege does not mean that Queer theory is opposed to individual sexual practices or feelings that we would label heterosexual. Michael Warner puts it in his introduction to Fear of a Queer Planet; the word “queer” gets a critical edge by defining itself against the normal instead of the heterosexual Queerness and Visibility I: Sexual Stereotypes in American Media Natural/deviant The actual number of heterosexual and homosexual characters and personalities in American media is wildly disproportionate Heterosexual becomes natural simply by functioning as the overwhelmingly present type of sexual identity in popular media texts Although the tendency to associate homosexuality with the deviance and criminality is largely a thing of the past, we still see vestiges of this formula in contemporary films Monogamous/promiscuous On top of drawing clear distinctions between heterosexuality and homosexuality, the American media also tend to characterize the very nature of these categories by linking heterosexuality to monogamy and homosexuality to promiscuity In truth, the entire genre of the mainstream American romantic comedy relies on the eventual, monogamous coupling of heterosexual characters, and the genre supports the long-standing stereotype that associates heterosexuality with monogamy The image of promiscuity is the case even in the supposedly GLBTQQIA-friendly programming the Showtime’s Queer as Folk or The L Word. Gender clarity/gender ambiguity Although there is no absolute association between a person’s gender (masculinity/femininity) and sexuality, media texts often portray heterosexuals as having definite gender roles and homosexuals as having unclear ones Heterosexual male and female characters in media tend to fulfill clearly masculine and feminine roles. Homosexual characters tend to shift unpredictably between classic and opposite gender roles, or they blend aspects of masculinity and femininity in original ways While Queer theorists celebrate this sort of gender fluidity as a way to eradicate sexual classification, the ambiguity often results in a certain level of discomfort in mass audiences toward gay and lesbian personalities Like images of gender, the various sexual stereotypes we see in the American media contribute to a social system defined by restricted sexual expectations. The oppositional to a social system defined by restricted sexual expectations. The oppositional images of natural, monogamous, secure heterosexuals and deviant, oversexed, androgynous homosexuals supports the notion that there are only two ways of being sexual (and that those two ways are nothing alike). Queerness and Visibility II: the Problems with “Positive” Representation Although there are more media images of queer individuals today than ever before, it is important to understand that visibility (the number of queer characters present in the media) and representation (the way that those queers act, feel, and engage in storylines) are two different concepts The reduction of queer stereotypes in the media does not necessarily result in an increase in politically potent images. Instead, these images often enact heteronormative social systems in other, less visible ways Kevin G. Barnhurst represents queer visibility in the media as a paradox - Increased visibility of certain non-heterosexual characters, personalities or themes always overlooks others Other scholars have pointed out that particular examples of queer visibility are not always as progressive as they might initially seem We can see that the mere presence of positive queer characters or themes does not guarantee the unproblematic representation of minorities in American media Queerness and Invisibility: the “Deployment of Sexuality” and Gender Performativity The works of Foucault and Butler are both important historical contributions to the way we understand sexuality as a social or discursive construction. “Invisibility” is our guiding metaphor in this discussion of queerness because it aptly describes the conclusions of both Foucault and Butler, namely that sexuality is a social construction made invisible, natural, normal, and indeed “biological” by its discursive aspects Michael Foucault and The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: an Introduction - 20 century Fresh philosopher - 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 - Works: Madness and Civilization (1961) - The Birth of the Clinic (1963) - Discipline and Punishment (1975), focuses on how specific social arrangements allow for human beings to understand and negotiate systems of knowledge like lunacy, medicine, and imprisonment 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. He begins his inquiry into the history of the idea of sexuality with a simple question: - Why, in relation to the subject of sex, do we constantly claim that we are repressed? Foucault admits a personal suspicion of the widely held belief in the “repression thesis,” which contends that humanity is still subject to the prudish Victorian decorum of the 19 century in relation to sex and sexuality He claims that it has an erroneous and unchallenged interpretive hold over how we come to think about sexuality and ourselves as sexed beings Foucault spends much of The History of Sexuality tracing the development of sexuality as a coherent discourse, showing how our modern understanding of sexuality is in fact merely the latest iteration in a history of understandings Foucault sees this transition in understanding sexual practices in the light of martial relations to a focus on the individual as a historical conflation of the deployment of alliance and the deployment of sexuality Foucault claims that the deployment of sexuality historically became entangled in the deployment of alliance at the site of the family. The family, existing as a result of the deployment of alliance, suddenly became the site of regulation of sexuality through regular interaction with the discourses of sexuality in the fields of religion, medicine, and politics The concept of sexuality and the protections and attentions it affords were merely the most recent form of class maintenance, a function that notions of bloodlines and titles had supported in prior aristocracies 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 because people believe is it significant Actions that are supposedly the output or manifestation of an inner quality called “gender” are in fact the only major premise of Butler’s theory of gender performativity Understanding gender as performative introduces potentially new possibilities in combing issues of gender, sex, practice, and desire. Rather than conceptualizing gender identity in traditional formations of male/masculine/woman-desiring and female/femin/mal-desiring individuals can (and do) recombine these factors into original ways Drag performance call attention to the lack of clear association between gender, sex, sexual practice and desire - They exist despite the fact that they challenge conventional associations between the different nodes of identity - Butler points out that drag also draws combinations available when gender is performative rather than a constant conception of one’s identity Butler’s notion of gender performativity introduces the quality of queerness to traditional understandings of gender. Coupled with Foucault’s concurrent notion that individual sexuality is also discursive in nature, beholden to the political mativity severs the classic links that tenuously hold the aspects of one’s identity together A Queer Analysis of “Invisibility” in Media Texts This differs from the analysis of representations of GLBTQQIA individuals because it seeks to unmask the unquestioned, implicit assumptions of a text in relation to sexuality. In other words, merging the frameworks of Foucault and Butler to “queerly” analyze media texts allows scholars to understand how these texts link “individual” discursive concepts like gender, sex, sexual practice, and desire with “cultural” discursive factors like politics, medicine, religion, and the family - We distinguish the individual from the cultural only as an interpretive heuristic; they are actually inexplicably linked as discourse) Queer criticism deconstructs texts fir their implicit representations of and claims to truth regarding sexuality, troubling the assumptions of a text in such a way as to reveal how they affirm relations of power Queer analysis can also be productively applied to analyzing how even apparently progressive texts in fact maintain discourses of (hetero) sexuality and gender Consequences of Heteronormative Media Representations People often turn to the media, consciously or unconsciously, in order to form values about the world we live in today, and those values influence the impressions we have of society and ourselves. When we form values and impressions on the basis of heteronormative media representations, we run the risk of continuing current and unequal power relations Symbolically, the relative absence of positive queer individuals in the media results in limited models of identification for actual queer populations in the real world Chapter 10 Reception Analysis What is the role of the actual audience in the process of meaning-making in the media? - Reception scholars primarily seek to understand the personal meanings that individuals make of mass media texts in the relation to their lived social systems and experiences Reception theory stresses audience interpretation as he primary site of meaning- making. Meaning is fluid and communication is imperfect within this perspective, and negotiation between media producers and consumers constantly skews the “true” meaning of media texts. - Audiences who determine what a text ultimately signifies or how it actually functions in their own lives Media scholar Paul Lazarsfeld and colleagues proposed the “two-step flow” model as a more nuanced version of the hypodermic needle approach - Mass media messages would influence these individuals, who would in turn disseminate information to secondary audiences - Other empirical media effects research looks at the way in which media messages could have broad, collective effects on the larger population - One of the most significant that still continues today is the cultivation analysis, first proposed by George Gerbner - Geber claims that individuals who watch heavy amounts of television are hyperconscious to issues of danger and voice in their everyday lives - His theory claims that heavy-viewing audiences develop a distorted view of reality and believe that violence is more prevalent in society than actual statistics support - Donald Shaw and Maxwell McCombs and their theory of media agenda- setting - One early approach to studying the audience that significantly departs from the others mentioned here is uses and gratifications theory. This perspective was the 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.” - Uses and gratifications theory 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 Encoding/Decoding: Stuart Hall A code is a set of rules that govern the use of visual and linguistic signs within a culture I.e.: Morse code or Pig Latin Encoding is the process of creating a meaningful message according to a particular code, while decoding is the process of using a code of decipher a message and
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