Friday, October 30, 2009

Revising and Expanding Paper I into Paper II

You will be turning a 2-pg paper into a 4-5 page paper

This means significant revision in both the form and content of your paper

Step 1: Correct all the mistakes I have marked in Paper I

Have you fixed all the grammar and spelling errors?

If I have marked any sections “repetitious” or unnecessary, have you re-thought those sections?

Rethinking = dig deeper and come up with new insights about your topic instead of repeating the same ideas.

Have you used MLA citation format for all your quotations?

Step 2: Expanding your initial topic

You have looked at one of the keywords from the definition of a stereotype and analysed the process of stereotyping using that keyword

Now you are invited to open up your analysis to further thought.

Some ideas of how you could do this:

-Using more sources: what do some of the other material we have studied in class have to say about stereotyping? Do they show something similar to what you have already pointed out in your essay? Do they show something different? Think in terms of both comparisons and contrasts.

-Use different types of media: Choose an artwork, a photograph, a song, a movie, an advertisement, a magazine article, a newspaper piece (either introduced in class or outside of class) to expand the ideas brought up in your first paper.

-Use different types of analysis: If your paper has looked more generally at the attitudes to stereotyping, then try to zoom in and focus more closely on a particular aspect of certain texts. How, for instance, does Spike Lee’s use of camera work play into what he is trying to say about stereotyping and the dangers associated with it? Analyse the device of framing (weird angles, non-traditional, non-Hollywood use of the camera) as a visual metaphor that is trying to indicate something about Lee’s message, or your own.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Art Criticism: A crash course

Last week, we practiced some basic art criticism. Here are the key points to keep in mind when looking at any photograph. Think of these techniques as similar to those we apply to literary texts, and also similar to what we will use to analyse film.

We are now definitely moving beyond the realm of summarisation and getting into analysis -- pictorial art is even more strongly about what the image makes you feel. It is a way of putting into words the emotion that you get from the bend of a hand or the position of the figure -- our job is to put visual metaphors into words.

Art criticism, like with literary criticism, is a four-step process:

1. Describe the subject matter and the art elements, lines, shapes, colours, patterns and textures—

2. Analyse arrangement, colour harmony, and technique—

3. Interpret its symbols and meaning—

4. Judge its value—

INTERPRETATION is the process of understanding or making meaning. This process involves several aspects: emotions, symbols, modern and historical importance, and reinterpretation.

What could be a new title for this piece?

What symbols do you see? For example, a lion is often used as a symbol of strength.

What do the colours symbolise? For example, blue might mean loyalty or calmness like the sea. What do the colours express—make you feel? Do they create a happy or sad mood—Can we come up with a sense of the tone of the picture based on colours, brushwork, and any other elements described earlier?

What theme, big idea, is this about? Is it, for instance, about nature, politics, religion, childhood, other?

What does this work mean for people today, for you?

And finally, here are the images I handed around in class today. Take a look at them in colour!

Edvard Munch, The Scream (lithograph) (1893):

Egon Schiele, The Fighter (1913):

Ernst Ludvig Kirchner, Five Women on the Street (c. 1920):

[not one of the original printouts I gave; see how you like this one]

Movie poster -- The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920):

Kathe Kollwitz, The Widow (
c. 1922):

Movie still from Sin City, by Frank Miller (2005):

Writing Assignment for Monday 19th October

The assignment for this week is simple:

Listen to the videos (below). Then write a journal entry in response to what you have just seen. The journal may deal with any ideas the songs have brought up for you, any tangential thoughts you might have, or even any other songs/poems/books/literary or pop culture reference that you are reminded of. Try to use the keywords we have been tossing around in class in your response.

Page limit: 1 page single-spaced or 2 pgs double-spaced
Format: Times New Roman 12-pt font, 1" margins

1. Miles Davis, "Darn that Dream"

2. Nina Simone, "House of the Rising Sun"

3. Nina Simone, "Ain't Got No... I've Got Life"

4. Janis Joplin, "Me and Bobby McGee"
(note: This isn't a video of the actual song, but a collage of footage of Janis singing at live shows -- still good!)

5. Velvet Underground, "What Goes On?"
(note: someone's creative effort to make a tribute video to this song -- cool!?)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stereotypes and pop music

We listened to some music together as a class to see the interplay between popular music and stereotypes -- how do artists try to use stereotypes, play with them, and break them?

What, if any, is the role of individual freedom -- is freedom really "just another word for nothing left to lose"?

Is there any way to connect some of what we have read in class with what we have heard? Can you bring any of your own examples/favourites to the discussion table?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stereotypes -- Some things to think about


We've been talking about stereotypes with one eye on the paper that's coming up. Here's a quick summary of the main ideas we're throwing around:

Division and Classification -- how is one different from the other? How are these forces important features of our lives?

Stereotypes -- what approaches can we take to dealing with them? Are there any uses we can put them to?

Resistance -- how can an individual resist stereotyping? Are there different ways to approach a stereotype (with fear, with anger, calmly, etc...). What can we make of the different approaches demonstrated by Ortiz Cofer, Liu, Kincaid and Brooks?

Take a position on one of the pieces you've read. Why do you like one approach more than the others? Start thinking about the piece you choose for the first paper, coming up in about two weeks.