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  • 1.  Media Texts Reality is difficult to understand, and we struggle to construct meaning out of our everyday experience. Media texts are better organised; we need to be able to engage with them without too much effort. We have expectations of form, a foreknowledge of how that text will be constructed. Media texts can also be fictional constructs, with elements of prediction and fulfilment which are not present in reality. Basic elements of a narrative, according to Aristotle: "...the most important is the plot, the ordering of the incidents; for tragedy is a representation, not of men, but of action and life, of happiness and unhappiness - and happiness and unhappiness are bound up with action. ...it is their characters indeed, that make men what they are, but it is by reason of their actions that they are happy or the reverse." (Poetics - Aristotle(Penguin Edition) p39-40 4th century BC ) Successful stories require actions which change the lives of the characters in the story. They also contain some sort of resolution, where that change is registered, and which creates a new equilibrium for the characters involved. Remember that narratives are not just those we encounter in fiction. Even news stories, advertisements and documentaries also have a constructed narrative which must be interpreted. Narrative Conventions When unpacking a narrative in order to find its meaning, there are a series of codes and conventions that need to be considered. When we look at a narrative we examine the conventions of Genre Character Form Time and use knowledge of these conventions to help us interpret the text. In particular, Time is something that we understand as a convention - narratives do not take place in real time but may telescope out (the slow motion shot which replays a winning goal) or in (an 80 year life can be condensed into a two hour biopic). Therefore we consider "the time of the thing told and the time of the telling." (Christian Metz Notes Towards A Phenomenology of Narrative). It is only because we are used to reading narratives from a very early age, and are able to compare texts with others that we understand these conventions. A narrative in its most basic sense is a series of events, but in order to construct meaning from the narrative those events must be linked somehow. Barthes´ Codes Roland Barthes describes a text as "a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can read, they are indeterminable...the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language..." (S/Z - 1974 translation) What he is basically saying is that a text is like a tangled ball of threads which needs unravelling so we can separate out the colours. Once we start to unravel a text, we encounter an absolute plurality of potential meanings. We can start by looking at a narrative in one way, from one viewpoint, bringing to bear one set of previous experience, and create one meaning for that text. You can continue by unravelling the narrative from a different angle, by pulling a different thread if you like, and create an entirely different meaning. And so on. An infinite number of times. If you wanted to. Barthes wanted to - he was a semiotics professor in the 1950s and 1960s who got paid to spend all day unravelling little bits of texts and then writing about the process of doing so. All you need to know, again, very basically, is that texts may be ´open´ (ie unravelled in a lot of different ways) or ´closed´ (there is only one obvious thread to pull on). Barthes also decided that the threads that you pull on to try and unravel meaning are called narrative codes and that they could be categorised in the following five ways: Action/proiarectic code & enigma code (ie Answers & questions) Symbols & Signs Points of Cultural Reference Simple description/reproduction Narrative Structures There are many ways of breaking down narrative structure. You may hear a movie described as a "classic Hollywood narrative", meaning it has three acts. News stories have their own structure. A lot of work has been done by literary theorists to develop ways of deconstructing a narrative.
  • 2. NarrativeIn media terms, narrative is thecoherence/organisation given to a series of facts.The human mind needs narrative to make senseof things. We connect events. In everything weseek a beginning, a middle and an end. Weunderstand meaning using our experience ofreality
  • 3. The difference between Story & Narrative:"Story is the irreducible substance of a story i.e Ameets B, something happens, order returns, whilenarrative is the way the story is related e.g Onceupon a time there was a princess.
  • 4.  Deconstructing Narratives Separating Plot And Story Think of a feature film, and jot down a) the strict chronological order in which events occur b) the order in which each of the main characters finds out about these events a) shows story, b) shows plot construction. Plot keeps audiences interested eg) in whether the children will discover Mrs Doubtfire is really their father, or shocks them, eg) the twist in the tale" at the end of The Sixth Sense. Identifying Narrator Who is telling this story is a vital question to be asked when analysing any media text. Stories may be related in the first or third person, POVs may change, but the narrator will always
  • 5. Propps Narrative FunctionsThese 31 functions are as follows:1. Villain causes harm/injury to family/tribe member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, 1. A member of a family leaves plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, home (the hero is introduced expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes as a unique person within the child etc, commits murder, imprisons/detains tribe, whose needs may not someone, threatens forced marriage, provides be met by remaining) nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of 1. An interdiction (a command NOT to family lacks something or desires something do something e.g.dont go there, go (magical potion etc); to this place), is addressed to the2. Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is hero; dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is 2. The hero ignores the interdiction that victimised hero is sent away, freed from 3. The villain appears and (either imprisonment); villain tries to find the3. Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action; children/jewels etc; or intended4. Hero leaves home; victim encounters the villain);5. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing 4. The villain gains information about the way for his/her receiving magical agent or the victim; helper (donor); 5. The villain attempts to deceive the6. Hero reacts to actions of future donor victim to take possession of victim (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles or victims belongings (trickery; disputants, performs service, uses adversarys villain disguised, tries to win powers against them); confidence of victim);7. Hero acquires use of a magical agent (its directly 6. The victim is fooled by the villain, transferred, located, purchased, prepared, unwittingly helps the enemy; spontaneously appears, is eaten/drunk, or offered by other characters);
  • 6.  Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search; Hero and villain join in direct combat; Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf); Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished); Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (object of search distributed, spell broken, slain person revived, captive freed); Hero returns; Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero); Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life); Hero unrecognised, arrives home or in another country; False hero presents unfounded claims; Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks); Task is resolved; Hero is recognised (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her); False hero or villain is exposed; Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc); Villain is punished; Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted
  • 7. Claude Levi-Strauss
  • 8. - constant creation of conflict/opposition propelsnarrative. Narrative can only end on a resolutionof conflict. Opposition can be visual(light/darkness, movement/stillness) orconceptual (love/hate, control/panic), and to dowith soundtrack. Binary oppositions.
  • 9.  Finally the equilibrium is restored The restoration is when Marty’s father and mother are together and when Marty returns to his own time, his mother and father are more successful than before

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