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Analysing Media Texts

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Assessment guidelines 2014-15

Component One (Proposal): Definition and potential application of a key concept to a media text, 1,000 words approx. (30%)

The first component requires that you produce, individually, a concise but detailed definition of a key concept and a suggested application of this concept (or concepts) to a media text. This component should consist of:

1)    Title (please use these sub-headings)

This should be specific, achievable and of interest to the reader. For example, ‘Representations of Women in the Media’ is a poor title: it is vague, it’s too large a topic to be achievable and is unappealing to the reader. A better title would be, ‘And you’re worth it!: A critical analysis of the construction of femininity in L’Oreal TV advertising’.

2)    Introduction (150 words approx.)

An introduction which explains why you have chosen your concepts and your research topic or question, why it interests you and why it is important. You may use the word ‘I’ to refer to yourself in this section (indeed you may do this whenever you wish on my modules, but many tutors do not like it – always check with the module leader).

3)    Definition and application of key concept(s) to a media text (750 words approx.)

Select a critical concept from those we cover; these will include a selection from sign and signification, narrative structures and informationalisation, text and textuality, ideology and hegemony, binary oppositions and the trace, and simulation and hyperreality.

Firstly, define your key concepts. Be guided by the definitions I give in lectures but do not rely on these alone. Find at least one definition from a reliable academic source (not Wikipedia) that has not been given in class.

Secondly, explain how the concept you have selected (choose only one pair) can be applied to a media text of your choice. The media text might be an advert in a newspaper or magazine, a scene from a film or TV series, a web page or site etc. Please relate your concept directly to the media text, as we have been doing in seminars. Your concept, especially when you develop its application in component two, should help you reveal aspects of the text which are not obvious or ‘common sense’. It should reveal the structure of the text, how it works, how it achieves meaning. For example, in week three we analyse a flyer produced by a private hospital specialising in cosmetic surgery. The company’s logo is an image (signifier) of a leaf. Leaves signify nature, naturalness, suggesting trees and their natural cycles of growth: the shedding of leaves followed by the appearance of new buds etc. However, cosmetic surgery is, of course, far from natural and specifically rejects natural processes such as ageing. Critical concepts, such as signification and ideology, then can be used to explore how a text struggles to construct some meanings while obscuring, erasing or deflecting others. Critical applications of concepts can challenge texts, and the ways the producers of texts wish us to read them, by exposing the text’s structure or workings, what it draws attention to and what it occludes. In this section please develop your own application of a concept to a text – do NOT use the example given above.

Please give a brief indication of your preferred theoretical approach. It is not possible to make an argument from ‘no position’ (sometimes called ‘the view from nowhere’). A little self-reflection should help reveal what your preferred theoretical position is.

The main theoretical positions we cover are Marxist Critical Theory, Feminist theory, and the ‘Post’ theories: Postmodernist, Poststructuralist etc. The concepts of ideology and hegemony are generally aligned with Marxist and Feminist approaches, the trace and hyperreality and simulation are generally linked to Postmodernist and Poststructuralist approaches, sign and signification and binary oppositions have been used by all of the above.

This module is different from 5MZ006 Research Methods in that I’m looking for the application of a concept as an exercise or ‘thought experiment’. I do NOT require a discussion of research methodologies, techniques or types of data such as deductive/inductive, qualitative/quantitative, positivist/interpretivist etc. as is required by the Research Methods module.

Section three is very important as the assessment criteria refer especially to this section.

4) Conclusion (100 words approx.)

State here, very briefly, what you have achieved in the assignment and how you hope to develop this work into the research project itself (component Two.

Deadline: 17/3/15. Submit hard copy to Registry by 4.00 pm.


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