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MDSA01H3 (310)
Chapter 5


8 Pages

Media Studies
Course Code
Michael Petit

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MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES CHAPTER 5 – RHETORICAL ANALYSIS  Functioning as a rhetoric o An attempt to shape and influence its viewers’ attitudes  Analyze texts for the ways they encourage audiences to inhabit certain moods, believe certain ideas, or undertake certain actions  Views text as complex webs of interrelated parts which work to influence consumers in particular ways  Signs: Basic building blocks of language and most other forms of rhetoric, and creates meaning Rhetoric: an Overview  Media messages cannot help but convey meanings. These meanings are never neutral or objective  Media is telling us to adopt certain attitudes, values, and beliefs while telling us to overlook others  All media outlets are rhetoric  Rhetoric: The ancient art of oratory or as Aristotle famously defined it, “an ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion”. o Relies on symbols to influence what (and how) audiences think and feel o The use of symbols by humans to influence and move other humans  All messages are necessarily biased  If something is a reflection of terminology, it must be a selection of reality, which therefore means it acts as a deflection of reality Theories of the Sign  Sign: Something that invites someone to think of something other than itself, such as the way an image of a person invites one to think of that personof the way the way the unique letter combination of d/o/g invites one to think of a four-legged canine  Everything has a potential, so anything can function as a sign  Shared meaning: when multiple people agree on what a sign refers to o Makes human communication possible o Allows for the existence of social structure and institutions  Communication is fragile, because there is not sign which everyone will interpret the same way o Misinterpretations  -Signs are fundamental to communication Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)  Swiss linguist  Founder of modern linguistics  His unique approach to linguistics: Semiology: A science which studies the role of signs as part of social life. Studies the nature of signs and the laws which govern them  Language was a system of signs o What is a sign? o What rules does it obey?  All linguistic signs are a combination of a signifier (significant) and the signified (signifie) 1 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES o Signifier: Sound-image, refers to the material form of a sign as perceived by the senses, such as the world “dog” as heard by the listener o Signified: Mental concept, is the idea evoked by the signifier; in this case, the idea of “dogness”  Linguistic sign has two defining traits o Arbitrary: There is no natural correspondence, no necessary relationship between signifier and signified  Not link  Languages  No fixed universal concepts or fixed universal signifiers  The signified is also arbitrary o Linearity: Auditory signifier is only one at a time. Visual signs can exploit more than one dimension simultaneously  Langue versus Parole o Langue: The linguistic system  The rules and conventions that organize the system o Parole: Individual speech acts or utterances (actual manifestations of the sign system).  Study specific uses or performances of language  Proper goal of linguistics  Synchronic versus diachronic o Synchronic Analysis: Concerns the state of language in general: linguistic system in a static state.  Illuminate the conditions for the existence of any language by examining the rules of combination and substitutability within a system o Diachronic analysis (Evolutionary Linguistics): Origins of languages and changes in sound or pronounciation over time  Changes are already found in Parole, so Saussure did not see this as a suitable method for investigating langue  Difference: Signs signigy virtue by their difference(distinctiveness) from other signs o Dog signifies, because it sounds difference than cat, mouse, horse o Distinguish one word from another allows for communication o Relations of difference also matters  Dog sounds different from red, but red is not meaningful because it diffes from dog. It is meaningful because it differs from yellow, blue, green  Differences do not have to be universal, just socially agreed upon o Replacing the bishop piece with a bottle cap as long as the players agree Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914)  Semiotic: the quasi-necessary, or formal, doctrine of signs  Denies arbitrariness and expands signs to include all mode of human communication(not just language) 2 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES  Triadic relation between sign, object and interpretant  Sign (Respresentamen): Something which stands to somebody for something in some respect of capacity o To somebody it stands for something  Equivalent Sign (Interpretant): What is created in the mind by the sign  Object: Something which the sign stands for  Three Categories of Signs o Iconic Signs: Operate according to the logic of similarity or likeness; icons are representamens that structurally resemble the objects they stand for  Maps, Photographs, Diagram o Indexical Signs: Linked by cause or association to the objects they represent  Smoke indicates fire  Anything which fcuses the attention is an index o Symbols: Linked to their corresponding objects purely by social convention or agreement  Learned rather than intuited  Language o Categories are not mutually exclusive o Certain signs could function in more than one way Roland Barthes (1915-1980)  Refined and expanded the ideas of others  Signifying system  How cultural practices and beliefs are naturalized  Distinction between denotation and connotation o Denotation: First-order signification. Involves the literal or explicit meaning of words and other phenomena  Lion (Signifier) -> Mental image of a large cat (Signified) o Connotation: Second-order signification. Ideology and myth. Evokes other associations  Mental Image (Signifier) -> Pet, companion, family member, pest (Signified) 3 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES  Meaning is never final or closed  Relationship between signifier and signified isn’t arbitrary -> unmotivated  Linguistic message (coded iconic message) to limit the meanings an image can have  Denoted image (non-coded iconic message(  Connoted image (coded iconic message)  Relay function: Words complement and reinforce images Texts and Rhetorical Structures  Signs rarely exist or function in isolation  Signs are combined with other signs to form media products or texts: Set of signs related to each other insofar as their meanings all contribute to the same set of effects or functions  Strategic structures to elicit particular responses  Rhetoric Structures: o Clusters o Form o Genre o Narrative Clusters  Most basic rhetorical structure in text  Cluster: The way individual signs are associated with and dissociated from one another  Identify key signs in a text o Repeated o Intensity o Prominence  Ask what other signs are associated with the key signs o Consider the absence of certain signs  Ask whether the clustering of signs fosters a positive, negative or ambivalent valence toward the key signs Form  Form: An arousing and fulfillment of desires  Work has form as one part of it leads a reader to antic
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