Critical Literacy "Critical literacy is the awareness of language as an integral part of social relations. It is a way of thinking that involves questioning assumptions." (Atlantic Canada English Language Arts Curriculum Guide: High School, pg. 177) Critical readers question: Who created this text? Whose views are being voiced? Whose story is being told? Whose voice (s) are being left out?
Critical Literacy Let's look at the key concepts: ·Language is a tool of manipulation ·Power is not shared equally/texts reflect this ·People are positioned in society based on factors like age/sex/gender/class/etc. This is reflected in texts. ·There are multiple ways of reading texts. ·Meaning is constructed. It can be deconstructed, and reconstructed in a different way.
Critical Literacy Critical readers ask: ·Who constructed this text? ·What are his or her beliefs? ·For whom is it constructed? ·Where did it appear? ·How is the topic presented? ·What are other ways it could have been presented? ·Whose voices are heard/whose are left out? ·What is the text trying to do to the reader? ·What is the message? How could it be conveyed differently? Should it be resisted?
Critical Literacy Let's ask those questions about this scene from a children's book, The Doorbell Rang, by Pat Hutchins. This was published in 1986.
Critical Literacy We use several specific theories to examine texts critically. We call them lenses. There are many. In small groups, you will be presenting these lenses to us. I will present one as an example: The Feminist Lens.
Feminist Theory B roadly defined, feminist criticism examines the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforces or undermines the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women. We live in a patriarchal society. Patriarchy is defined as any culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles. Traditional gender roles cast men as ____________________________. Traditional gender roles cast women as _________________________. These gender roles have been used to justify inequalities in society (women can't be good leaders; men are weak if they cry, etc.) Feminists differentiate between SEX (biologically determined) and GENDER (socially constructed).
Questions Feminist critics ask about texts: ·How are women portrayed? ·Does the work reinforce or resist patriarchal ideology? ·How does the work define masculinity and femininity? Does the work seem to accept or to reject the traditional idea of gender? ·How was the work received by the public and by critics? What does this tell us about the operations of patriarchy?
·Dakota Fanning, 17. ·American actress. ·Marc Jacobs perfume ad, 2011. ·Pulled in the UK.
The concept of Marc Jacob's 2008 spring campaign was basically "Posh In A Bag". In 2008, photographer Juergen Teller shot a giant Marc Jacobs shopping bag that had basically swallowed tiny Victoria Beckham. Now, Victoria is only 5'6" - but still that's a bag for some serious shopping. The ads were unexpected and proved that both Marc and Victoria have an incredible sense of humour. Even the harshest fashion critic admitted that the ads were ironic and pretty hilarious. fashionist.ca
"The Male Gaze" ·-describes the tendency of works to assume a male viewpoint. The lens shows to us what a male (and, in particular, what a heterosexual male) might see. ·female characters are presented as subjects of male visual appreciation. ·this can be traced back to silent films/glamour girl photos, comic books. ·This idea was brought forward in a 1973 essay entitled "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" by Laura Mulvey, a British scholar and filmmaker.
Information gleaned from: Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. Second Edition. New York: Routledge, 2006.