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TEXT-BASED RESEARCH Interpreting with analysis and synthesis.

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1 TEXT-BASED RESEARCH Interpreting with analysis and synthesis

2 Text-based research  All good research questions begin by looking at what other researchers have looked at in topics related to your research. This is often called a literature review. We will be covering what these look like later on.  Some rhetorical situations can be totally based on what other research has said, but this usually doesn’t answer new RESEARCH questions, but REPORTS on what others have said.

3 What is a text?  Clifford Gertz defines texts: “cultural forms can be treated as texts, as imaginative works built out of social materials.” Texts can be the “work,” but they are made up of other texts or artifacts within a text. This PowerPoint is a text, but each slide could be read/interpreted as another text. Books, articles, movies, dance, videogames, art, songs, billboards, what else?

4 Interpretation  Text-based research that answers new research questions usually does so through two strategies of interpretation  Analysis – taking apart a text to see how it works, what its about, how it accomplishes a goal.  Synthesis – comparing a text to another text or set of texts. Creating something new from old materials.

5 Analysis  Analysis usually follows this pattern: 1. Introduce how you will analyze something. a. “I will evaluate whether World of Warcraft is a good game or not, looking mainly at the interface, the graphics, and the story.” 2. Summarize the big picture (i.e. what is the text about) a. “World of Warcraft is an MMORPG released in 2004…” 3. Provide evidence from the text that supports the analysis. a. “The interface of World of Warcraft consists of up to 48 separate buttons that each can be assigned a keyboard hotkey. This complex interface grows as the character grows in power, which makes it adaptive, and therefore, an easy to learn interface while retaining the possibilities for complexity.”

6 Synthesis  Synthesis usually follows this pattern: 1. Introduce how you will synthesize something a. “My aim in this article is to demonstrate how the game’s mythic structures and elements drive the logic that underpins World of Warcraft’s stylistic milieu and provides the context for and of gameplay. Some aspects of the game’s mythic structures and forms key into what might be termed classical myth, others are filtered through more recent renditions of mythic forms and structures in the context of “fantasy” rhetoric, and some are more tangentially derived through other forms of popular and game cultures.” (Krzywinska 384) 2. Introduce interpretive lenses or comparative texts while comparing evidence from the comparative texts to the text you are interpreting. a. “The primary and highly recognizable mythic pattern that informs and structures the game is the epic hero quest format, wherein various forces work to help and hinder the hero-player on route to achieving particular goals. According to Otto Rank’s Introduction to In the Quest of the Hero, this format originates within early civilizations—Greek, Teutonic, Babylonian, Hebraic, Hindu, Egyptian—in stories and poetry aimed to glorify their princes and warriors, each filtered through the terms of their own cosmological traditions (Rank, Raglan, & Dundes, 1990).” (Krzywinska 385- 386)

7 Domains and Filters

8 The Domains: What lens are you seeing the texts through? how texts work  Rhetorical approaches are concerned primarily with how texts work and tend to emphasize specific textual features (organization, style, diction, allusions, literary devices, etc.), how they affect the meaning of texts, and how they affect audiences. Rhetorical analysis based on logical, ethical, and emotional appeals. how texts shape and are shaped by specific  Ideological approaches are concerned more with how texts shape and are shaped by specific cultural contexts. An ideology is a collection of beliefs and values that form a way of looking at the world, which in turn shapes people’s actions. Competing groups promote different ideologies; some defend the status quo and present the way things are as common sense, while others challenge the assumptions that underlie the status quo and argue for change. Ideological interpretation may examine blatant or subtle bias within texts, seek to recover texts—such as those written by women or people of color—that have been ignored by previous scholars, or investigate the relationships between texts and cultural beliefs. Marxism, gender studies and queer theory, feminism, race theory, and post-colonialism are common ideological lenses. applying specific theories or bodies of knowledge from a field of study to texts in order to gain a better understanding of the text  Disciplinary approaches are concerned with applying specific theories or bodies of knowledge from a field of study to texts in order to gain a better understanding of the text and/or the discipline For example, imagine hieroglyphics in an Egyptian tomb. An anthropologist might read such a text to better understand the cultural practices signified. A linguist, on the other hand, might read the text looking for systematic or inconsistent patterns in the structure of the message to better understand the language. And a business historian might read the text looking for examples of how business transactions were recorded—in fact, some of the earliest known writing in any language was the recording of business transactions. Sometimes, researchers will use disciplines outside their own to read a text; for example, literary scholars might apply a psychological or historical lens to a text.

9 The Filters: What are you focusing on?  Historical – When was the text produced? What was going on at the time? What physical or philosophical conditions might have affected the author/text/audience? Most of the contexts discussed below can have an historical element.  Geographical – Where was the work produced? How might national, regional, or local factors have influenced the work’s production and reception?  Cultural – In addition to cultures attached to places and nationalities, consider how ethnic, religious, sexual, or subcultural orientation of the author, audience, and/or subject matter shape texts.  Psychological/Social – What are the manifest psychological motivations in the work? How does the work impact the groups that read it or that it is about?  Critical/Evaluative – Is the work successful at achieving its purpose? Is it “good” or “bad”?  Political – The political views of authors/composers and the dominant politics of their homelands can determine what they write about and how. You might consider obvious political links—such as how some authors satirize government figures—as well as more subtle influences—such as codes or metaphors an artist might have used to avoid persecution.  Artistic/Aesthetic – Is the work part of a larger artistic movement? If so, how does is confirm or depart from the trend? Is the text representative of some genre? Is that a good thing?  Biographical – Who was the author/creator? What was his or her life like? To what extent might the text(s) be autobiographical? When considering biographical influences, it is important to avoid assuming that an element or character represents the author.  Bibliographical – consider the text within the larger body of work produced by the artist/author/speaker/director. How does the text compare to works that came before or after in terms of content, style, quality, etc.?

10 Examples  Tanya Krzywinska's “Blood Scythes, Festivals, Quests, and Backstories” is looking at World of Warcraft through an ideological lens using cultural and historical filters.  Game reviews usually look at games rhetorically or disciplinarily using an evaluative filter.

11 Let’s Practice  Remember, it’s not just a “work” (World of Warcraft) but many items or artifacts within a work can be “interpreted.”  Gameplay, visuals, audio. Classes, narratives, races  Tuaren  Ideological domain (cultural filter).  Rhetorical domain (evaluative filter)  Disciplinary domain (aesthetic)

12 Consider this  In WoW, the game’s races are constructed by cultural and ideological patterns drawn from real and fictional cultures. Sometimes these patterns are anachronistic, other times they draw on cultural patterns that might disrupt the immersion in the game.  Consider a race from the game (preferably one you have played, but if not, select one):  What would you say is the ideology or world view of the race of your character? What kind of people are they? What are their values? What philosophies do they use to confront the world? What is their general outlook on life? Also, what is your race's religion? What does your race value the most in their culture?

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