key theorists

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key theorists

  1. 1. KEY THEORISTS PLEASE DO BACKGROUND READING – DO NOT RELY ON THIS LIST TO GET YOU THROUGH. (The Media Students Book). Remember: text means film, advert, radio broadcast, magazine, TV programme…any media product which is consumed by an audience. Adorno – one of the key theorists behind the Frankfurt School. Early critical theory into the power of the media (in particular popular culture/ propoganda/ Marxist sensibilities). Audience theory. Roland Barthes– French linguist. Developed above theories to include denotation and connotation, which when combined tap into an ideological understanding/reading of texts. Reading the media. Stan Cohen – sociologist. Wrote about folk devils and moral panics. 1970’s. Use when talking about culture, violence in the media (video nasties as a moral panic) and audience theories. Richard Dyer – film theorist, wrote about stars being sign systems in Hollywood cinema. Stars as icons. Reading the media/film. Foucault – social anthropologist. Looked at language as a powerful sign system – upholding dominant ideologies through modes of address. Discourse is a key term – the use of language. Reading the media/ news. Sigmund Freud- Austrian psychologist. The human psyche is made up of the conscious and sub conscious mind. Wrote three essays on sexuality where he isolated the pleasure of looking (socophilia) as taking people as objects and subjecting them to a controlling gaze. Crudely put; think about how men watch women in strip clubs. The women are seen as objects for male pleasure. He was keen on interpreting dreams. You can mention Freud when it comes to symbolic sign decoding in any text analysis; horror film analysis; and really complex: psychoanalysis of cinema. Why/how do we get so much pleasure from film? See Metz, Mulvey and Lacan, as well as the stuff above about socophilia.
  2. 2. Stuart Hall – big in audience theory. Came up with the terms encode and decode. How audiences interpret media products. Audience theory. Horkheimer – The Frankfurt School. See Adorno. Audience theory. Lacan – psychologist. Took Freud’s theories and developed them further. Used in relation with Mulvey’s work on ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. Lacan developed a theory surrounding socophilia and narcissism. Reading the media/ audience theory. Lazarsfeld – American sociologist. Looked at how people were effected by party political broadcasts. Found that most people could not be swayed to vote a particular way through political broadcasts/election propoganda. Claude Levi-Strauss – French anthropologist. Looked at the mythical status of cultural systems. Use with film to discuss binary oppositions. (Famous book- The Raw and The Cooked: how all myth (societies systems of communication) can be reduced to oppositions and struggle. Marcuse – The Frankfurt School. See Adorno. Audience theory. Marx – German political activist and intellectual. Analysed and sort to overthrow emerging capitalist social order through revolution. 19th Century but has much relevance to todays understanding of ideologies and political motivation behind some media texts. Reading the media/ audience theory/ institutions. Christian Metz – French structuralist. Looked at film and psychoanalysis and the pleasure we get from the dream screen. Reading the media/ audience theory. David Morley – worked with Hall and developed his theory to incorporate the way that we read texts. (Preferred, Negotiated, Oppositional). Audience theory. Mulvey- feminist film theorist wrote a key essay in the 1970’s taking Freud and Lacan’s theories to film. Looked at the way men watched women on screen. Why are women always used as the love interest in film and not the action hero? Why do women always get shown being seduced/ loosing their
  3. 3. clothes etc? There are problems with this theory as feminism has been assimilated into film narrative. See films like Thelma and Louise and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Reading the media/ audience theory. Charles S. Pierce – developed Saussure’s theory to include all forms of communication (linguistic and non-linguistic). Three types of sign – symbolic, iconic and indexical. Reading the Media. Greg Philo – member of the Glasgow University media Group. Looked at how news events could influence the way people perceived events. The news will always favour the powerful even though BBC is supposed to be unbiased. The repetition of certain phrases and words will remain in our minds over the full report. E.g. ‘Benefit scroungers’. Audience theory/news. Propp – Russian critic. Analysed literature and broke down the narrative structure of a novel into 8 key characters (based on figures from fairytales) and 30 odd actions. Claimed that characters and their actions are all FUNCTIONS to pull narrative forward to its final resolution. Reading the media/film. John Reith – first director general of the BBC. Came up with the statement that the BBC was to educate, entertain and inform. Ferdinand de Saussure – a key name to drop. French linguist who organised language into a system of signs. To be used when analysing texts/reading the media. B.F.Skinner – Behaviourial scientist. Linked behaviour patterns to events seen through the media. Influenced by the earlier Frankfurt School. Audience theory. Todorov – Russian critic. Claimed that novels were made up of three key elements: equilibrium, conflict, and resolution. (There is a lot more to this…). Applicable to film/ Reading the media. Raymond Williams – sociologist. Wrote extensively about popular culture. Defined culture into three broad categories: general (intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development); way of life (people, period, groups) and the works and practices of intellectual activity (the cultural products of a
  4. 4. particular group of people). Use when talking about popular culture versus high art. (Blockbuster film v. art film). Audience theory.

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