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Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Preconscious, Connotation, Jeremy Bentham

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson
Study Guide

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2200 First Midterm
LECTURE 1: Structuralism
Saussure, Course in General Linguistics
The Sign
- Signifier + signified
- Signifier: sound image/pattern, form linked to an idea,
- Signified: idea/concept linked to particular signifier (in our heads, translates to sound
- Arbitrary
Sound Image/Concept
- Linguistic units are dual in nature, comprised of 2 elements
o Sound image (signifier) and concept (signified)
- Never existed before a linguistic system, only conceptual and phonic differences that
have issued from the system
- Meaning of language is not coming from us
- Not concerned with historical aspect of language
- Langue:
o Rules and elements that make up the system of language
o Sign system/system of communication
- Parole:
o What users do with system, what they produce
- Should study LANGUE, not PAROLE.
- Synchronic:
o To study language in particular moment in time
- Diachronic:
o To study language as it changes through time
- Should study language synchronically.
- Not a nomenclature (pre-existing set of things we give names to)
o Translation would then be easy
- Meaning in language is generated by the system, not by the users of the system
Signs as Arbitrary and Language as Differential System
- Arbitrariness
o Nothing in nature dictates what a sign is
o No reason to why we call it a cat
- Convention
o Connection between signifier and signified becomes linked in a system because
all users within system continue to use them the same way
- Differentiation
o Language is a differential system of meaning
o Only differences without positive terms
o Connection between signifier and signified is negative
o Sign is recognized to be what it is because it is not something else
Barthes Myth
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- His ideas are ways of thinking
- Type of speech/system of communication
- Not what is said, but how it’s said
o Form of communication NOT content
- Everything can be myth provided it is conveyed by discourse
- Rise and fall at different times
- Used to persuade people to think differently about something
Semiological System
- Semiology = scientific study of signs
- Language = first order
- Myth = second order
Denotation (first order)
- Literal meaning of word
Connotation (second order)
- Idea/feeling evoked in addition to the primary/literally meaning
Effects on History
- Transforms history into nature
- Myth is depoliticized speech
- Confuses nature and history
- Naturalizes ideas
Effects on Politics
- Naturalizes concepts that are not natural
o People on welfare are lazy
LECTURE 2: Structure + Post-structuralism
- Every system has structure
o Determines position of every element
o Hidden most of the time
- Think about structure without a center/origin point and governing rules
- Looking at things in binary won’t let us see the grey
- “The centre is not the centre”
o Teacher in classroom as the centre bc she governs the rules and enforces them but
she is not actually part of the class
- Language not the best tool to explain things
- Article itself made confusing to understand and make a point of language
The Event
- Moment when “the structurality of structure had to begin to be thought”
o Absence of a center, everything becomes discourse
- When new interpretations arise within text but is limited due to common understanding
of central meaning of the text
- Centre organizes play
Binary Opposition (3 Operations)
- Acknowledging that binary oppositions are hierarchical
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o 2 terms never balanced
o 1 term always subordinated to the other
- Binary oppositions are unstable
o Each form inheres in, or forms part of the other term
o Each term is defined by what it is not, thud depends on the other for its identify
- Binary oppositions “do stuff”
o Deconstruction matters because binary oppositions matter
o Binary opposition structure our thought and world
- Combination of French words “to defer” and “to differ”
- Way of thinking about binary oppositions
o Not stable
Saussure vs. Derrida
- Saussure:
o “in language, there are only differences without positive terms”
- Derrida:
o The signified concept is never present in itself, in an adequate presence that
would refer only to itself. Every concept is necessarily and essentially inscribed in
a chain/system”
Structuralism: Deconstruction
- Theory of explaining elements of human culture as being understood in terms of their
relationship to a larger overarching system, but it doesn’t work
- Human beings are so complex; can’t fully examine the structures we live in unless we
escape them
- Signs = signs because they are not their binary opposites
LECTURE 3: Ideology
- Notion of ideology as “ruling class ideas”
o “power of the press belongs to those who own them”
- Ideology represents interests of one group as if they were the interests of “us all”
o Aligning interests of company with interests of consumers
- Ideology = natural default setting
o Present before we’re born
- Works most effectively when we are not aware of it
- Are ideas of working class ideological? No.
o Ideology = ideas that legitimatize currently existing power relations to society
Base and Superstructure
- Base = sum total of the relations of production
- Superstructure = the state (legal + political), corresponds to social consciousness
How Does Capitalist Society Reproduce Itself?
- Must reproduce material means of production
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