COMS201 Fall 2011

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Lecture 8

Filed under: Uncategorized November 21, 2011 @ 17:53

Does Semiotics provide a useful tool for us to analyze cultural texts?

Do you think it’s a useful approach to meaning? If so, why? If not, why not?


  1. Kevin:

    I found this last week’s class to be really interesting, once I got my head wrapped around the concepts! Semiotics is a fascinating way to look at how and why we communicate the way we do. In particular, I really enjoyed the part of different signs in music, television, and film all having separate meanings to us. Like what certain types of cuts mean, or certain beats fading in and out of songs.

    It’s crazy to think that we’ve all been trained in such a way without even noticing it, which I think is what makes it so important. Such meanings are universal. Language is so specific to the people that know it, but everyone knows when to get excited in a song or how to interpret film. I think that’s what makes semiotics an important study — that it can be viewed as a global, universal look at the human psyche, not just an individual study of one language.

  2. KelseyMcCay:

    I think Semiotics is quite effective when analyzing cultural texts. I suppose it would be different in some cultures just as non verbal communication is different. Therefore in order to analyze a cultural text properly you would have to understand the culture form which it stems. But, I really enjoyed the lecture, I never thought about why things are called what they are or how we know certain things. It really gets you thinking.

    I think it is a useful approach to meaning because by stating what something is not you can more easily say what it is. Just as in math, when proving a theory you need to show how no other approaches make sense

  3. moses ndirangu:

    These types of analysis seek to get beneath the surface meanings and examine more implicit social meanings. These textual analysis approaches often view culture as a narrative or story-telling process in which particular “texts” or “cultural artifacts” (i.e., a pop song or a TV program) consciously or unconsciously link themselves to larger stories at play in the society. A key here is how texts create subject positions for those who use them.
    A cultural studies that is critical and multicultural provides comprehensive approaches to culture that can be applied to a wide variety of artifacts from pornography to Madonna, from MTV to TV news, or to specific events like the 2000 U.S. presidential election, or even media representations of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the U.S. response.

  4. Devin Chollak:

    Semiotics is extremely useful when looking into what words, phrases, images, and so forth really mean. If you take a look at some of the older videos during the cold war on how to identify communists, the message being displayed wouldn’t be as clear if you didn’t know the culture of the USA at the time. Semiotics allows us to get a better understanding of communication by looking into the culture that creates it.

    It is hard to not see how useful it is to looking at meaning. Without knowing the context of the language things can be easily understood incorrectly. Those who have english as a second language have a hard time understanding what we are saying because many of us use abbreviations, misspellings, and incorrect pronunciation. Once they understand our culture, their ability to understand what we are saying and writing become much easier to understand.

  5. Sonia McRae:

    I think semiotics are very useful for us to analyze texts, we sometimes get lost on how some things mean what they mean and to be able to break it down into step is very useful. Culture is defined by those existing in its surrounding and the deeper meanings it entails.
    It is a way for us to stop being to “blind” to what society and culture is presenting to us and a way for us to critically examine the ideals that we are faced with. It is fascinating to think that everything in this world has meaning and that in term it works together in a system to create this meaning.

  6. joannelee:

    Does Semiotics provide a useful tool for us to analyze cultural texts?

    Yes, because throughout the ages, language has evolved and it is important to learn how a word, phrase or image may have been interpreted in that time period to fully understand what is being communicated.

    Do you think it’s a useful approach to meaning? If so, why? If not, why not?

    Yes it is. To understand the various meanings in words. To understand the culture which the word came from. To understand the era it originated from.

    ie. in the 30’s – 50’s the word “Gay” meant Happy. Now “Gay” refers to a sexual orientation. No one uses gay to describe happiness like they did during that time period.

  7. sarahscott:
    I found that Absolut Vodka campaign story!

    I think the science of signs is very intriging. The human language and the meanings of what we say are so much more complicated then I thought!

    I think of it as in music… One person might think the song is a love song and the other person might think of it as a heartbreak song…I hope I have that right. That is how I think of it at least!

  8. Moira Duley:

    Does Semiotics provide a useful tool for us to analyze cultural texts?
    I believe that Semiotics is relative to each culture, and the meaning that is derived from that culture. So, in order for Semiotics to be a useful tool for understanding cultural texts, an anthropoligical analysis would be neccessary. To understand the motivations behind each sign would mean to understand the origin of that motivation as well. I think that it would be a useful tool for analyzing one’s culture, but not that of an unknown culture.

    Do you think it’s a useful approach to meaning? If so, why? If not, why not?
    I think that it is a useful approach to meaning because it provides meaning to how society defines culture or orients meaning from signifiers. In that sense, the development of language is neccessary to understand culture today. By exploring the connotative meanings of symbols, we are able to find meaning within these symbols.

  9. Kanza Anjum:

    yes, semiotics provide a useful tool for us to analyze a cultural text. It makes us aware of the cultural values with which we make sense of the world and of the values that have been handed down to us from generation to generation by the members of the culture of which we are a part.

    There’s a joke about A disappointed salesman of Coca-Cola who returned from his assignment to Saudi Arabia.

    A friend asked, “Why weren’t you successful with the Saudis?”
    The salesman explained, “When I got posted, I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch.
    But I had a problem. I didn’t know how to speak Arabic. So I planned to convey the message through three posters.

    First poster : A man lying in the hot desert sand totally exhausted and fainting.
    Second poster : The man is drinking Coca-Cola.
    Third poster : Our man is now totally refreshed.
    And then these posters were pasted all over the place.

    “Terrific! That should have worked!” said the friend.

    “The hell it should have!” said the salesman.
    “No one told me they read from right to left!”

  10. James McDonal:

    Does Semiotics provide a useful tool for us to analyze cultural texts?

    Semiotics is some pretty complicated stuff. A bit too complicated for your average, every day analysis, in my opinion. I mean, semiotics is to study as isness is to deconstructionism – it’s unnecessarily complicated.

    Do you think it’s a useful approach to meaning? If so, why? If not, why not?

    No, I don’t. It’s like microbiology – it’s interesting to know that the amoeba are there, but we don’t need to factor them in to our investigation of our sore foot. To me it’s all part and parcel of the need of some segments of society to over-analyze. We (humanity) do NOT NEED TO KNOW absolutely everything about our world or ourselves! We have a hard enough time as a species communicating clearly on a surface level – that won’t get any easier as we go deeper.

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