Sunday, October 25, 2009

Alex Questions - Oct. 25

I was a communication studies major for two years before I switched to RTF as an undergrad and remember being exposed to semiotics in the 1980s. And I’ve always accepted this expanded definition of “text” in semiotics to include all kinds of signs, symbols, TV programs, etc. and how they comprise something of a language in and of themselves. But then this connection to linguistics starts to lose me a little. Is a background in linguistics really all that necessary to do good semiotic examinations?

It’s clear that Marxist theory can still be valuable in terms of critical approaches to examination media as manipulation, etc. But the themes of a conflict in class systems, I think, still complicate modern approaches to media criticism. Is there a post-Marxist approach or theory emerging into modern media critiquing that does not attempt to view everything into a dichotomy of class struggle?

I found the Murder on the Orient Express chapter enjoyable reading. And I can see the value of it as a required reading assignment as an example of analysis. But was it textual analysis? Discourse analysis? Semiotic analysis? A bit of all of the above? I ask because there were times that I did not feel I was reading an academic chapter so much as reading a story about a popular story.

Otto Santa Ana evoked Sweetser in describing polysemy as homonyms with distinct meaning, using the example of “over” (p. 30). So I understand that the use of a word takes on distinct meanings depending on the context and use of the word. Is this one way of approaching metaphor? That is, analyzing the distinctions of meaning based on context? Or am I misunderstanding polysemy?

It’s hard for me to read a work like Santa Ana’s Brown Tide Rising without getting worked up. I guess it’s too real to me not only as a Latino but also as a journalist… one of a small group of national Latino journalists at that. I am particularly sensitive to language, in particular. As I was re-reading this chapter (I read the book when it first came out) I started thinking about recent issues like new Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, and how her “wise Latina” comments were taken out of context and how news outlets like FOX insisted on mispronouncing her name as Soto – mayor. I always felt something insidious was behind that deliberate mispronunciation and it makes sense in the context of this book and chapter. I don’t really have a question but this observation. Is it possible for a researcher to be too close to a subject that subjectivity starts to get lost? When I read Santa Ana, I personally feel he is preaching to the choir.

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