Engaging culture session03

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  • Could be a bit 'bitty': various things to get you started but not necessarily all joined up at this point.
  • Link to assessment; the tools are the kind of things that students may want to use for their assessment.
  • Next slide has further prompting questions. Mention: social nature Language mimesis Note pragmatics of shared projects: requires assumptions to be shared; communication involves shared assumptions and perspectives. Evolutionary perspectives: group selection ... Possibly note theological issue about social nature, cultural mandate,
  • Mention: social nature Language mimesis Note pragmatics of shared projects: requires assumptions to be shared; communication involves shared assumptions and perspectives. Evolutionary perspectives: group selection ... Possibly note theological issue about social nature, cultural mandate,
  • Questions to ask during the discussion would be 'what makes this hard to interpret?' How are we working out what is being talked about? What are the implications we are drawing on and where do they come from? At the end address: How did we work out what a blick is? What do we know and what do we not know yet? Where was the information? What assumptions did we make, draw on or notice? Point: we use context and implication to find meanting. In fact 'blick' is a word made up by linguisticians to 'not mean anything'. We however, assume it must mean, so we go to wark on it on that basis. Why do we assume it must mean something? NB
  • Another lingustics toy. Chomsky, trying to separate out syntactic (grammatical) issues from lexical issues came up with this tautologous sentence. Meaningless because bits of the meanings of each word contradicted the others, yet the sentence is grammatically well-formed. Pause for reaction and comment. Then bring up tatsk: to come up with a way to be able to interpret the sentence meaningfully. ...
  • Another lingustics toy. Chomsky, trying to separate out syntactic (grammatical) issues from lexical issues came up with this tautologous sentence. Meaningless because bits of the meanings of each word contradicted the others, yet the sentence is grammatically well-formed. Pause for reaction and comment. Then bring up tatsk: to come up with a way to be able to interpret the sentence meaningfully. ... (This develops further one of last week's exercises)
  • Another lingustics toy. Chomsky, trying to separate out syntactic (grammatical) issues from lexical issues came up with this tautologous sentence. Meaningless because bits of the meanings of each word contradicted the others, yet the sentence is grammatically well-formed. Pause for reaction and comment. Then bring up tatsk: to come up with a way to be able to interpret the sentence meaningfully. ...
  • A chance here to note the way that we reframe using contexts, implications, connotations, figurative and metaphorical meanings. Indicating that meaning is potentially quite wide or multiplex: polysemy reigns; that context and 'framing' helps us to decode; that the presumption of meaningful intent encourages us to try out different strategies to identify meaning (we are meaning-making creatures).
  • Prabably going to add to the list to ask questions of the exclaimer. Note there is a handout with this (and the Colourless green ideas ...) on. Important to note that there is nearly always some ambiguity going to be left. “ ... the native's tendency to agree may be influenced by extraneous factors - he may have seen a rabbit a few minutes before and hence be prepared to accept a mere rustling in the grass as sufficient evidence. Or he may observe a characteristic 'rabbit fly' unknown to the linguist which betokens the prescence of a rabbit even in the absence of any other evidence. Or perhaps he dissents, not because he thinks there isn't a rabbit, but because he presumes the linguist to be a hunter and there isn't at the moment a clear shot available. ” “ ... The native may use the word in exactly those situations in which the linguist would use the word 'rabbit', but it could still mean something different: 'temporal section of a rabbit' or 'set of undetached rabbit p arts'. For that matter, it could mean 'rabbit or dalek' or 'rabbit before the year 3000 and bear after that'. ”
  • Prabably going to add to the list to ask questions of the exclaimer. Note there is a handout with this (and the Colourless green ideas ...) on. Important to note that there is nearly always some ambiguity going to be left. “ ... the native's tendency to agree may be influenced by extraneous factors - he may have seen a rabbit a few minutes before and hence be prepared to accept a mere rustling in the grass as sufficient evidence. Or he may observe a characteristic 'rabbit fly' unknown to the linguist which betokens the prescence of a rabbit even in the absence of any other evidence. Or perhaps he dissents, not because he thinks there isn't a rabbit, but because he presumes the linguist to be a hunter and there isn't at the moment a clear shot available. ” “ ... The native may use the word in exactly those situations in which the linguist would use the word 'rabbit', but it could still mean something different: 'temporal section of a rabbit' or 'set of undetached rabbit p arts'. For that matter, it could mean 'rabbit or dalek' or 'rabbit before the year 3000 and bear after that'. ”
  • For everyday purposes this may work well enough. But .... (next slides present a difficulty)
  • This is mainly to amuse but also to introduce the idea that actually, labelling isn't so simple. Move quickly on, however, to the next slides as they raise that issue more seriously. May be worth mentioning that my wife and I argue over what is turquoise and the boundary between green and blue ... not to mention pink and purple. Add to which, there is some evidence that men and women really do have different sensory capacities in regard to colour; we see colour differently (relates to more men being colour-blind).
  • This is mainly to amuse but also to introduce the idea that actually, labelling isn't so simple. Move quickly on, however, to the next slides as they raise that issue more seriously. May be worth mentioning that my wife and I argue over what is turquoise and the boundary between green and blue ... not to mention pink and purple. Add to which, there is some evidence that men and women really do have different sensory capacities in regard to colour; we see colour differently (relates to more men being colour-blind).
  • Just note that the colour scheme isn't totally okay. Make sure that people 'get' what is deing showed: that the labels for various shade of colour are not universally equivalent. May be worth noting that over the whole world, different languages have a variety of different colour terms. Some with only two or three basic terms which may be more about light and dark or one end of the spectrum or the other etc ...
  • Meaning of colour(s) varies between languages. Russian has two main words for blue; you can't say 'blue' you have to specify a word meaning 'light blue' or 'dark blue'. Labelling actually depends on having an agreed way to 'divvy up' the world (mention 'Rukha' in Russian, for example). So labelling seems unproblematic until you realise that it relies on prior judgements about what an object actually is and how it's classified (eg pointing at a marine mammal and saying 'fish').
  • Same principle: different word (!). The idea is that translations aren't exact because in each language the way that the world is divvied up is slightly (or more) different and the associated meanings may be different. Relates to culture because ... ask the question ... (the words are part of culture and the associations are cultural too)
  • Note that the explanatory box with the pointer is another click to reveal. We need to be conscious of the indirect relationship between the sign we use and the thing we are referring to. The 'concept' mediates. This is picked up on the next slide (De Saussure: sign)
  • The thing to note is that Saussure was dealing with verbal signs but recognised that the principle could be extended to other kinds of cummunication. This laid the foundation for the discipline of Semiotics to get underway. Reason to introduce this is that this is a major reference point for a lot of cultural analysis academically. Semiotics in the modern era starts here, in many ways.
  • Note that is linguistic terms the 'signifier' is usually a verbal pattern (whether part of a word, a word, a sentence ...) In semiotic terms a signifier is much wider: (might ask for people to come up with suggestions): an item of clothing (eg a football shirt indicating support of a team, what else ... ?) A flag ... a logo .... further examples
  • This is using 'sound pattern' but the words are used for other signifers than words also.
  • Motivated signs eg smoke -a signifier of fire, putting my coat on -a signifier of my intention to go out, a footprint -a signifier of there having been a footprinter, etc (name a few more ....?) Aribtrary signs eg most language is arbitrary (exceptions ?onomatopoeia, BSL etc), the cenventions for road signs (blue disks, red triangles etc), Of course the interesting thing is how these interact in our 'decoding' of signs in culture. Eg a big house: motivated sign of wealth, arbitrary sign of goodness or 'worthiness' ....
  • Motivated signs eg smoke -a signifier of fire, putting my coat on -a signifier of my intention to go out, a footprint -a signifier of there having been a footprinter, etc (name a few more ....?) Aribtrary signs eg most language is arbitrary (exceptions ?onomatopoeia, BSL etc), the cenventions for road signs (blue disks, red triangles etc), Of course the interesting thing is how these interact in our 'decoding' of signs in culture. Eg a big house: motivated sign of wealth, arbitrary sign of goodness or 'worthiness' ....
  • Connotative meaning is quite important. Think about it in language: ... next slide eg
  • Connotative meaning is quite important. Think about it in language: ... next slide eg
  • “lady” &/vs “woman” etc. Most of these could be used to refer to the same person. Buzz-pairs > whole group discussion.... Why would the different words be chosen? What might they imply or what might be the connotations ?
  • Note the recursion of the tripartite pattern: the sign can itself become a signifier in a 'meta sign' that is, here, a myth. Pattern of recursion works on lots of levels: a book comes to 'stand for' a status or a statement on your shelves derived from but more than the words and arguments or stories within it .... (discuss?)
  • Find bit in the handout to look over. What analysis does Barthes give of this imge? What forces does he identify at work and how? Do we agree or disagree, a bit of both? How do we respond as Christians?
  • This leads into definition of myth: handout. Later looking at hegemony and ideology. But first ....
  • In this case, we need to extend things with further examples. If time in buzz groups and plenarise. What myths can we identify 'embodide' in artefacts or texts in our culture? (Potentially, try some out). 'My' possibles: ... cars and the myth of individual freedom (cf Top Gear). Jeans (cf the Jeaning of America) relating to the Am West, freedom, individualism, Remembrance Sunday ... military and national self justification etc? (cf Runcie and Falklands remembrance). (cf ANZAC day - April)
  • Could refer back to Gavagai and Blick. Actually nearly all meaning is socially constructed if to be shared (vs Humpty Dumpty in Alice) and therefore negotiated. The diagram shows overlap and we are constantly calibrating our usage and understanding against the implications of other people's usage. ...
  • Therefore issues of power, influence, resistance etc come into negotiations (fashion's 20% of trend leaders ..., ) Eg's of this in sociolinguistics ... pronouns of solidarity and power .. Tu / Vous tu/vosotros/usted(es) du /ihr /Sie historically – Thou in English. (Quakers, also 'would his majesty core to ..r' etc)
  • May be a new term to some (?) Ask for any comments or questions. Note Marxist origins esp Gramsci. Note the importance of the 'velvet glove' version of exercise of power. Cf pronouns of solidarity etc; some cultural analysis is attempting to trace the contours of power relations in the use and meanings of cultural texts and artefacts.
  • I think that this definition shows its origins in Marxist discourse. I think that ideologies can operate among the marginalisde and dispossessed in countering that of a dominant group.... It could be seen in relation to justifications for states of affairs. Relates to Marxist ideas of 'false consciousness'
  • Handout for intersessional reading: should be Fiske and/or Hebdige on seiotic guerilla warfare.
  • Engaging culture session03

    1. 1. Module number: 6741 & 7741title: Engaging Culturesession: 3 So glad to see you again. Parting was such sweet sorrow ...
    2. 2. Opening prayerThe grace of our Lord JesusChrist, the love of God and thefellowship of the Holy Spirit bewith youAnd also with you.God, help us to listen;and in our listening to hearYou.God, be in our thinking:and renew our minds.God, we will speak together:let our conversations be 2words in the Word.
    3. 3. What were looking attoday ...The questions of culturesand meaning: semioticsand social dimensions. 3
    4. 4. How were learning ... Discussion Some exercisesintrospection,reflection on experience, Listening Reading ... 4
    5. 5. Why were learningthis ...much of todays stuff is tohelp us begin to engagewith some of the basics ofthe debates that could helpto resource our ownexploration and analysis oftexts and artefacts. 5
    6. 6. How come humans have culture? 6What do you reckon? (Next slide?)
    7. 7. How come humans have culture? Do ants have culture? Whats the relationship between culture and society? Whats the relationshipDo between culture andchimpanzees biology?have culture? … and theologically? 7
    8. 8. Language! 8
    9. 9. The next slide has a dialogue,gradually revealed.Your task is to work out what theyreon about .Well discuss a bit with each reveal. Are you sitting comfortably? … then Ill begin. 9
    10. 10. A: I saw a blick earlier today.Z: Blicks are quite common at this time ofthe year.A: Yeah. Is this the blickbreeding season or something?.Z: Heh heh. Youd think so... I guess thatspring is the time to start outdoor publicworks.A: They must store themsomewhere in the winter.Z: The Highways Agency must have storesall over the place. 10
    11. 11. Colourless green ideas sleep furiouslyYour task is to come up with a way tomake sense of this sentence ....... compose not more than 100 words of prose,or 14 lines of verse, in which this sentencedescribed as “grammatically acceptable but withoutmeaning”did, in the event, become meaningful. 11
    12. 12. Colourless green ideas sleep furiously In the early 80s there was a competition run at MIT. And the winner ....It can only be the thought of verdure to come, whichprompts us in the autumn to buy these dormant whitelumps of vegetable matter covered by a brown papery skin,and lovingly to plant them and care for them. It is a marvelto me that under this cover they are labouring unseen atsuch a rate within to give us the sudden awesome beautyof spring flowering bulbs. While winter reigns the earthreposes but these colourless green ideas sleep furiously. CM Street 12
    13. 13. Colourless green ideas sleep furiouslyAnd another attempt to give meaningelsewhere...if green is understood to mean "newly-formed"and sleep can be used to figuratively expressmental or verbal dormancy. An equivalentsentence would be "Newly formed bland ideas areinexpressible in an infuriating way." 13
    14. 14. Colourless green ideas sleep furiouslyDebrief...What kinds of things have you /we donein order to find or construct meaningout of that sentence? 14
    15. 15. Suppose we have a linguisticexplorer and a native guide:a rabbit runs past and thenative exclaimsGavagai!The linguist forms thereasonable hypothesis thatGavagai means rabbit, buthow can she be sure? 15
    16. 16. So what have we observed-perthaps even learnt-about meaning ? 16
    17. 17. Car window bridge 17A label approach to meaning ...
    18. 18. 18
    19. 19. Isthere anytruth inthis? 19
    20. 20. (Disclaimer:Im stillworking outhow to dothe colours,so these arenotionalrather thanexact.) 20
    21. 21. What doesthis kind ofthing meanfor the labelapproach tomeaning? 21
    22. 22. 22
    23. 23. So ... Note: indirect relatio A triadic approach to meaning 23
    24. 24. SignFerdinand De Saussure: from 24Cours de Linguistique Gé né rale
    25. 25. Here are the mostfrequently-used terms (insemiotic rather thanlinguistic mode) ... 25
    26. 26. Youll also find these variants on the theme ... 26
    27. 27. I.e. the meaning is intrinsic to Signs can beignified is extrinsic to the signifier motivated or arbitrary 27
    28. 28. Lets see if weve got that ...… choose a something,Then tell your neighbour;Whats the signified, thesignifer and the sign .. 28
    29. 29. Signifier may be used habitually in c signifiedAnd so pick up connotations from that syntacticd the edges or in the background; emotional col 29
    30. 30. Some examples …? 30
    31. 31. Connotative meaning - Compare / contrast:“lady” “woman” “girl” “wench” “lass” “ Buzz and plenarise .... 31
    32. 32. 32
    33. 33. 33
    34. 34. What wasBarthes sayingabout thisimage?What was hegetting at? 34
    35. 35. A lot of writing onsigns /semiotics tendsto focus on anindividual interpreter.Barthes draws ourattention to social(and thereforepolitical) dimensionsof meaning; notably“mythologies”. 35
    36. 36. Myth. /mɪθ / n.... Myths can be seen as extended metaphors.Like metaphors, myths help us to make sense ofour experiences within a culture. They expressand serve to organize shared ways ofconceptualizing something within a culture. ... tomake dominant cultural and historical values,attitudes and beliefs seem entirely natural,normal, self-evident, timeless, obvious common-sense - and thus objective and true reflectionsof the way things are. 36
    37. 37. Pick up from the definition of myth;“... shared ways of conceptualizing somethingwithin a culture” Ds concept Our concept Bs concept Cs concept 37
    38. 38. “... shared ways of conceptualizing somethingwithin a culture” therefore involves (usuallyby connotative meaning) .... Power and resistance Our concept: negotiated Solidarity and (better: group identity negotiating) between sign users Play, pleasure, entertainment Look (again) at Vanhoozers 10 principles ... 38
    39. 39. Hegemony. /hɛˈɡɛməni/ or /hɛˈdʒɛməni/   n .......the predominance of one social class overothers ... political and economic control,... theability of the dominant class to project its ownway of seeing the world so that those who aresubordinated by it accept it as common senseand natural. 39
    40. 40. ideology.  /aɪdiːˈɔlədʒi/ n ....... a system of ideas and beliefs. ... closely tiedto the concept of power ... "shared ideas orbeliefs which serve to justify the interests ofdominant groups" ... it legitimises thedifferential power that groups hold and as suchit distorts the real situation that people findthemselves in. 40
    41. 41. And finally ....For tomorrow ...Reading relating to the main area for nexttime: Chapter from Fiske Reading thePopular, on shopping centres.Revisit and add to or rework your culturalartefact (or choose another, if you wish) totalk about it in the light of the things wehave looked at today. 41

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