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Cultural Criticism and Gender Criticism March 22, 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Cultural Criticism and Gender Criticism March 22, 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cultural Criticism and Gender Criticism March 22, 2006

2 Defining culture Probably the most complex and contested term in the social sciences and humanities Definitions include:  Practices—manifest rather than latent  Shared by a group Culture in its various forms:  Elite, mass, folk, popular, sub-, counter-, high and low

3 Assumptions of socio-cultural criticism TV is an important cultural force because it offers lessons about rules and roles that portray idealistic and realistic visions of society--Bandura, social learning theory TV is a social institution that reflects and shapes critical ways of seeing ourselves— social, occupational and sex roles, social class, deviance and conformity, race and ethnicity, confirmed and disconfirmed

4 Key terms in socio-cultural criticism Roles—social, occupational, and sex roles Stereotypes—positive and negative Values—what is shared by a culture, their depiction and enactment in TV narratives Sex and gender Race and ethnicity Social class

5 Questions a socio-cultural critic might ask… In what kind of roles (social, occupational, familial, sex) are the characters in this text portrayed? What attributes, attitudes, and behaviors do they display in these roles? Which of these roles are portrayed as psychologically, emotionally, economically, or spiritually rewarding? What social rules and lessons are explicitly and indirectly communicated through the characters’ words and actions and narrative outcomes?

6 Assumptions of Gender Criticism Mass media are a powerful socializing tool Gender, not biology, is socially constructed Gender is a continuum, not a toggle switch Gender construction/reproduction is important for both masculinity and femininity

7 Varieties of Feminism: Liberal feminism All share a reaction against patriarchy: “the domination of men and male thinking and speech in the political, social, and economic structure of a culture” (Stoner and Perkins) Liberal feminism—men and women are essentially the same, reasoning, independent and autonomous. These critics work within the system of political and social structures to strive for equality for women.

8 Liberal feminist television criticism…some questions How does the message represent women, implicitly or explicitly? Does the representation of women suggest that women are essentially the same or different from men? How are differences valued or devalued? How are the goals of assimilating women into existing economic and sociopolitical structures advanced or hindered by the televisual text?

9 Varieties of feminism…cultural feminists More skeptical of assimilation, call for more fundamental cultural and ideological changes, while morally/legally equally, cultural feminists stress differences between men and women, affirming feminine qualities as positive and valuable in their own right. Less likely to accept traditional structures in—religion, marriage, and the home.

10 Questions asked by cultural feminists… Does the text portray women and men as essentially the same or qualitatively different? Does the portrayal of differences cause us to value one gender over another? Does the message suggest that equality can be attained through existing sociopolitical institutions? Does the message create an environment of care, cooperation, and respect or does it emphasize persuasion, influence and assertion?

11 Varieties of feminism…postmodern feminists These critics reject notions of a universal, stable and definable notion of womanhood. Woman have different experiences and standpoints based on age, race, ethnicity, class, or sexual preference, and doubt whether differences between men and women are permanent or universal. These critics emphasize the distinctiveness of women and how they experience the world.

12 Questions from postmodern feminists… Does the show portray women as being on of a kind…If so, is that portrayal problematic for women of a different experience? Is the representation of women progressive? If so, for which women? If the representation is not progressive, what relationship does that negative representation have for women of different races, classes, sexual orientation, or ages?

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