Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reading Questions

1. Bobo's article on audience response to The Color Purple takes an audience centered approach to discussing the ways in which a subject or audience imprints their meaning on a text and uses that meaning to form a group collective of shared experience and histories. In discussing myths, specifically the “exotic primitive” myth, Bobo cites Mark Schorer and says that the truth of a myth doesn't matter as much as the function of the myth to validate a group's history in a manner that's satisfactory to a culture, and also that traditions aren't born when someone creates them, but when a collective reads/interprets them (100). Both these ideas give agency to the audience and their use of a narrative or a text; by Bobo's interpretation of a myth, how many myths are involved in the writing, directing, and receiving of The Color Purple or similar works? What groups or cultures are these myths serving? What values are they serving? Does one myth or narrative hold more power than another- why or why not?

2. Bobo goes on to mention Hall's principle of “articulation,” the moment when an underrepresented group wrestles control from dominant ideology and makes their own meaning and that the strength is maintained only when the group goes on to put the altered discourse to use and goes on to act in a political manner (105). What does she mean by putting this discourse to use? What actions can a group take to either proliferate, maintain, or strengthen that altered discourse? Is this altered discourse maintained more on a private or public level, or both? How possible or what is necessary for the underrepresented group to make their “voice” more embedded into the dominant ideology?

3. Gledhill states in her article that receptive negotiating is the “most radical moment of negotiation- the most variable and predictable” (172). She goes on to discuss that mainstream production commodifies marginalized groups or beliefs to simultaneously give them attention while getting them, or the pressure to represent them, under their control. She also discusses the instability of identity- that it is never fixed and, likewise, an audience's interpretation of a text will vary depending on shifting personal and historical factors and viewing situations (174). Considering all these unstable factors, what does a scholar access by analyzing audience response to a text? What is the “best” way, given such shifting variables, to understand how a subject reacts to a text; what, if any, generalizations can be drawn? What are the practical outcomes/benefits to such an analysis? How does making a subject more aware of her response to a text in relation to her personal history benefit her and others? Kuhn states that “the distinction between social audience and spectator/subject, and attempts to explore the relationship between the two, are part of a broader theoretical endeavor: to deal in tandem with texts and contexts” (348). This dualism seems to support that texts reinforce already situated norms and ideology; so what is gained practically by understanding how audiences interact with texts- what are the advantages of a media-focused discipline?

4. In “Gendered Television: Femininity,” Fiske talks about deferment in soap operas and how, by having no definitive climax, the audience finds pleasure in the desire for/process towards pleasure rather than the attainment of it (183). He suggests that “endless deferment need not be seen as a textual transformation of women's powerlessness in patriarchy. It can be seen more positively as an articulation of a specific feminine definition of desire and pleasure that is contrasted with the masculine pleasure of the final success” (183). Furthermore, this deferment or emphasis on process rather than product is constitutive of a feminine subjectivity as it opposes masculine pleasures, and soaps therefore validate this “deferment principle” as a source of legitimate pleasure against the patriarchy (183). How/why is this deferment to pleasure feminized, and if so, is it truly a pleasure within and against the patriarchy? More so within than against? Does this “deferment principle” glorify putting what is desirable out of reach to avoid disappointment of the process ending? Practically speaking, is finding more pleasure in the process healthier than finding pleasure in the product?

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