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Roland Barthes:
Text and Image
 Introduction to Digital Media
      September 14, 2009
Context: Structuralism
• A mid-20th-century movement in the
  social sciences
• Study of coded relations, or patterns,
  b...
Saussure and the Sign
• Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General
  Linguistics (1922)
• Language as a system of difference...
Arbitrary Links . . .
. . . But Not Random

 • Language's rules are conventions --
   historical and social
   • Cat,
     le chat,
     die Kat...
Freud & Levi-Strauss
• Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
  (1900)
  • Manifest content, latent content
• Claude ...
Roland Barthes (1915-80)
          • Began as literary scholar
            and teacher -- French
            literature an...
Roland Barthes (1915-80)
          • Began as literary scholar
            and teacher -- French
            literature an...
Image as Sign
• Images are representations, or signs, of
  things, not the thing themselves, and they
  create meaning sys...
Image--Text
• "[W]riting and pictures ... do not call upon
  the same type of consciousness ... pictures,
  to be sure, ar...
Signification Is a Process
• "[D]espite common parlance which simply
  says that the signifier expresses the
  signified, we ...
Second-Order Systems
• "Mythical speech is made of a material
  which has already been worked on so as to
  make it suitab...
First-Order Signification
             "Tree"

            1. Signifier 2. Signified
Language:
                   3. Sign

  ...
Second-Order
              1. Signifier             2. Signified
Language:
                            3. Sign
             ...
Form & Concept
               Signifier             Signified
Language:
                          Meaning
                  ...
"French Imperiality"

            •   Form: "a young Negro in a French
                uniform is saluting"

            •...
Depoliticization
• The mythic signifier (or image in culture)
  "has a sensory reality (unlike the linguistic
  signifier, w...
The Image's Three
Messages
• In the case of an image with text, such as
  an advertisement or news photo:
  • Linguistic (...
The Panzani Ad

         • Linguistic: the caption
          • Denotative: "Panzani"
          • Connotative:
            ...
The Panzani Ad
         • Iconic -- here, 4 signs:
          • Fresh products to be
             picked up and prepared
  ...
The Panzani Ad
The Panzani Ad
         • Noncoded:
          • Objects as arranged in
             the scene, the elements
             o...
Myths: Cultural,
Historical
• "[T]here is no fixity in mythical concepts:
  they can come into being, alter,
  disintegrate...
Garbo

 
 
 
 
 Hepburn
Garbo

 
 
 
 
 Hepburn
Essence         Existence

Awe             Charm

Concept         Substance

Archetype       Indiv...
Full-Face: "Penetration,
Gravity, Frankness"
Full-Face: "Penetration,
Gravity, Frankness"
Full-Face: "Penetration,
Gravity, Frankness"
"The Gaze Lost Nobly
in the Future"
"The Gaze Lost Nobly
in the Future"
"The Gaze Lost Nobly
in the Future"
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  • Transcript of "barthes class pres"

    1. 1. Roland Barthes: Text and Image Introduction to Digital Media September 14, 2009
    2. 2. Context: Structuralism • A mid-20th-century movement in the social sciences • Study of coded relations, or patterns, between phenomena traditionally studied in isolation • Beginning in linguistics, it was later applied to anthropology, sociology, and literature
    3. 3. Saussure and the Sign • Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (1922) • Language as a system of differences • A structure of meaning -- internally referential • Sign = signifier + signified • Langue and parole
    4. 4. Arbitrary Links . . .
    5. 5. . . . But Not Random • Language's rules are conventions -- historical and social • Cat, le chat, die Katze, el gato
    6. 6. Freud & Levi-Strauss • Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) • Manifest content, latent content • Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology (1958) • Myth as system: mythology as cultural communication, or code
    7. 7. Roland Barthes (1915-80) • Began as literary scholar and teacher -- French literature and classical languages • Influenced by structuralism: 1950s • Turned to cultural studies and literary theory
    8. 8. Roland Barthes (1915-80) • Began as literary scholar and teacher -- French literature and classical languages • Influenced by structuralism: 1950s • Turned to cultural studies and literary theory
    9. 9. Image as Sign • Images are representations, or signs, of things, not the thing themselves, and they create meaning systematically • Like language, dreams, and myths • Therefore, they can be studied under semiology, or semiotics, the study of sign systems
    10. 10. Image--Text • "[W]riting and pictures ... do not call upon the same type of consciousness ... pictures, to be sure, are more imperative than writing, they impose meaning at one stroke, without analysing or diluting it" • "But this is no longer a constitutive difference. Pictures become a kind of writing as soon as they are meaningful" ("Myth Today"110)
    11. 11. Signification Is a Process • "[D]espite common parlance which simply says that the signifier expresses the signified, we are dealing, in any semiological system, not with two, but with three different terms. For what we grasp is not all one term after the other, but the correlation which unites them" • "[T]he signifier is empty, the sign is full, it is a meaning" -- the black pebble (113)
    12. 12. Second-Order Systems • "Mythical speech is made of a material which has already been worked on so as to make it suitable for communication" (110) • "Myth" uses pre-existing cultural codes, including language but also images and socially created concepts--material from ideology--to perform its significations
    13. 13. First-Order Signification "Tree" 1. Signifier 2. Signified Language: 3. Sign Tree
    14. 14. Second-Order 1. Signifier 2. Signified Language: 3. Sign I. SIGNIFIER II. SIGNIFIED Myth: III. SIGN "Everything happens as if myth shifted the formal system of the first significations sideways" (115)
    15. 15. Form & Concept Signifier Signified Language: Meaning FORM CONCEPT Myth: SIGNIFICATION Myth is a metalanguage, "because it is a second language, in which one speaks about the first" (115)
    16. 16. "French Imperiality" • Form: "a young Negro in a French uniform is saluting" • Concept: "a purposeful mixture of Frenchness and militariness" • Signification: "There is no better answer to the detractors of alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro in serving his so-called oppressors" (116)
    17. 17. Depoliticization • The mythic signifier (or image in culture) "has a sensory reality (unlike the linguistic signifier, which is purely mental), there is a richness in it" • A myth empties this meaning from the form, in service to the concept, "impoverishing" it: "only the letter remains" (117) • Myth "purifies" things of their history; it "makes them innocent" and "natural" (143)
    18. 18. The Image's Three Messages • In the case of an image with text, such as an advertisement or news photo: • Linguistic (text) • Iconic, or symbolic, or connoted (image) • Non-coded iconic, or perceptual, or literal, or denoted (image) • The "message without a code"
    19. 19. The Panzani Ad • Linguistic: the caption • Denotative: "Panzani" • Connotative: "Italianicity" • Acts as the "anchor"
    20. 20. The Panzani Ad • Iconic -- here, 4 signs: • Fresh products to be picked up and prepared at home • Colors of "Italianicity" • Providing everything a meal needs • The still life tradition
    21. 21. The Panzani Ad
    22. 22. The Panzani Ad • Noncoded: • Objects as arranged in the scene, the elements of the image • "Naive," never met in pure form (in myths) • Naturalizes symbolic, cultural messages
    23. 23. Myths: Cultural, Historical • "[T]here is no fixity in mythical concepts: they can come into being, alter, disintegrate, disappear completely. And it is precisely because they are historical that history can very easily suppress them" (120) • "[M]yth is a type of speech chosen by history: it cannot possibly evolve from the 'nature' of things" (110)
    24. 24. Garbo Hepburn
    25. 25. Garbo Hepburn Essence Existence Awe Charm Concept Substance Archetype Individual Platonic Idea Mortal Simplicity Complexity
    26. 26. Full-Face: "Penetration, Gravity, Frankness"
    27. 27. Full-Face: "Penetration, Gravity, Frankness"
    28. 28. Full-Face: "Penetration, Gravity, Frankness"
    29. 29. "The Gaze Lost Nobly in the Future"
    30. 30. "The Gaze Lost Nobly in the Future"
    31. 31. "The Gaze Lost Nobly in the Future"
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