Cultural Artifacts

Background: Our study of critical discourse reveals to us that considering familiar things in new ways enhances our understandings of the artifacts that inform our everyday lives. In this paper you will have the opportunity to analyze an artifact or artifacts from popular culture to shed new light on the meanings of those artifacts. Remember as you select your artifact(s) that your goal is to practice using critical analysis and critical writing to generate new knowledge about those artifacts.

Context: In a democracy people are confronted with various images, discourses, points of view, etc. Clearly, democratic consciousness requires us to do more than merely identify with these things. To make decisions about where we stand on political, ethical, commercial, etc. interests, we must use our critical abilities to analyze the artifacts that create and inform our realities. In this paper, your job is to select a set of cultural artifacts that share a common theme and use the critical concepts we have studied (Masculinity, Male Archetypes, Power, Beauty, Race, Gender, Social Constructionism, Etc.) to discern what those artifacts mean and how they mean what they mean.

Please be aware that the use of Film Terminology/Film Techniques in analyzing films is required. What techniques you will use in your paper ought to be in your thesis statement. I’LL BE LOOKING FOR AT LEAST THREE, THOUGH YOU MAY USE MORE, DEPENDING ON YOUR FILM(S).

Pick one (1) of the following 2 options, either a or b. (B has two choices)

  1. a) The Womanoption: Essentially, for this option, I want you compare and/or contrast the notion of feminism in Snow White and Pretty Woman. What has changed? What hasn’t? Why? For this question, you will need to have your own definition of feminism (from the readings or a credible outside source — NOT WIKEPEDIA WHICH GIVEN ITS ABILITY TO BE EDITED BY ANYONE IS NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE — and tell me what that is and its characteristics. Use scenes and film techniques to analyze the similarities and differences in feminism; do not simply point out changes in plot; rather explain their significance to your argument. What is an audience supposed to learn about women and/or feminism from chronicling and analyzing these similarities and differences? The answer to this question, whatever it may be, is the crux of your arguable thesis.

For this option, you must pick mis-en-sene in the films as one of your three film techniques (costuming, props, furniture, etc.) as part of your argument and thesis statement to analyze. In other words, how do the artifacts within the film contribute to the changes in


feminism that you are making an argument about? YOU MUST ALSO INCLUDE ONE OTHER ARTIFACT, a Doll, an ad, etc.) as part of your Analysis

In short: Three (3) film techniques including Mise-en-scène
One (1) other outside artifact of your own choosing (dolls, ads, movie posters, etc) to analyze

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