5MZ014 Analyzing Media Texts

Assessment guidelines 2019-20

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:

  • 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 is 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’.

  • Introduction (150 words approx.)

An introduction which explains why you have chosen your concept(s) 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).

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

Select a concept or pair of concepts from those we cover; these will include ideology and ideology critique, hegemony and counter-hegemony, gender and performativity, hauntology and ghostmodernism , narrative and narrative structures, , discourse and discourse analysis, ,.

Firstly, define your key concept(s). 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(s) you have selected (choose only one pair of concepts) 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 website etc. Please relate your concept(s) directly to the media text, as we have been doing in seminars. Your concept(s), especially when you develop the 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, we analyze a flyer produced by a private hospital specializing 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.

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. Post-humanist 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 Research Methods modules 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: TBC Submit via Canvas.

Component Two: Research Project/Thought Experiment, 2000 words approx. (70%)

You may adapt or alter the project you proposed on the basis of feedback and/or your further reading and research.

The project should consist of a detailed critical analysis of a media text, following and developing the outline that you suggested in your proposal. You might compare the text you chose for component one with an additional text or series of texts for example.

Rather than applying just one or two concepts, as you did in component one, consider some of the others covered in the module. There is no need to cover them all, just those you judge to be the most appropriate to your text or texts. You might state, briefly, why other concepts covered are less relevant to your project and so demonstrate that you understand them.

There should be more academic referencing in the project. You should consider different interpretations and say why your interpretation is convincing or important. Also try to anticipate arguments that could be made against you: ask yourself how might a reader/marker disagree with your arguments and respond briefly.

Include full details of your chosen text or texts, perhaps in an appendix at the end of your work. You might print out images, web pages or include magazine adverts. I’d like to see visual evidence of your chosen text, not just a URL or hyperlink please. A full bibliography is vital.

Submit via Canvas.

Dr. William Pawlett

Assessment Criteria

When marking your written work the assessors will be looking for the following:

  • Evidence of substantial reading of appropriate works in the field of media, communication and cultural studies, including the key texts recommended on the Module Guide.
  • Ability to apply a concept critically and reflectively to a relevant media text or example.
  • Correct use of essential academic apparatus such as academic referencing (for example ‘(Bauman 2006, p.6)’ after quotations in the main text of your assignment, followed by ‘Bauman, Z (2006) Liquid Fear, Cambridge: Polity’ in the bibliography) and structured arguments which include an introduction, conclusion and an alphabetically ordered bibliography.

    Customer Area

    Make your order right away

    Confidentiality and privacy guaranteed

    satisfaction guaranteed