Exercise 2.2: Reading and Identifying Quotes

Objective: to begin to isolate quotes from Decoding Advertisements and “Discourse and Power.”

Estimated time: 2 hours
Due by: 9:00 a.m. Monday, March 9th

Part 1—Reading

  • Essay 2 Lens Analysis Assignment Guidelines
  • “Saying Why It Matters” from They Say, I Say.
  • Decoding Advertisements
    Pay attention to how Williamson applies her theories to analysis of advertisements. Isolate theories to quote in your lens analysis.
  • “Discourse and Power”
    Pay attention to Hall’s analogies and context in which he applies theories on discourse and power. Isolate theories to quote in your lens analysis.

Part 2—Writing

  • Isolate a specific theory in each of the texts that is difficult for you to understand (one for each of the texts). In your annotations, write what you think they mean. What questions remain? Be sure to look up any key terms, some of which you will find on our Key Terms page. Note the link to the Oxford Dictionary at the top of the page.
  • Post your response and remaining questions as a comment below and be prepared to discuss in class on Monday.
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22 thoughts on “Exercise 2.2: Reading and Identifying Quotes

  1. Ideology in “Discourse and Power”:
    Ideology would be the difference in knowledge that a person or collective group of people would have on a subject. Defined by Foucault as being “ based on a distinction between true statements about the world (science) and false statements (ideology)”(202). What’s “true” and “false” varies on what side the people in question reside. Hall explains this by giving us the example of the “Palestinians fighting to regain land on the west bank from Israel may be described either as “freedom fighters” or as “terrorists”(203). The question at hand isn’t if you are fighting, that’s a fact because of the bloodshed, but more so if you’re the “freedom fighter” or the “terrorist”(203). This creates a discourse in knowledge where “facts” begin to differ from sides. For the people being attacked the “fact” would be that the Palestinians are the “terrorists”(203), but the Palestinians see things in the opposite way. This raises my question of what does that leave for those people that aren’t involved in the situation given that they are completely neutral and have no bias whatsoever?

    Signified & Signifier in Decoding Advertisements:
    In this excerpt of the given book I see the “signifier” and “signified” theory the hardest to comprehend. Judith Williamson uses it to take the place of “form and context”(17) but in a more complicated manner. She defines them as “Signifiers are things, while form is invisible: signifieds are the ideas, while content implies materiality. Further-more, while form and content are usually seen as separable and their conceptual unity is one of opposition (form vs. content), signifier and signified are materially inseparable,”(18), which also gives us some detail on the difference between the two and how it’s more complicated. “Signifier” would be the Ad in its entirety with the picture, sound, and everything being given to its audience. While the “Signified” would be the thought behind the advertisements and what’s really meant. The tire advertisement (page 18) would be a great example of this, the “signified” would be the image itself and everything it contains within it like the jetty, car, tires cross section, and more. The “signified” would be how “the outside of the jetty resembles the outside of a tyre”(18) and how the tires pictured on the edges of the jetty provide a “mental nudge”(18) to show that “it withstands water and erosion and does not wear down”(18). Telling us that these tires will last because the tires on the edge of the jetty have over time so they are good enough for you.

  2. In “Discourse and Power” written by Stuart Hall, I came a cross a specific theory that I had trouble understanding. In chapter 3.3 Hall asks can a discourse be innocent, and he explains what it means. I think it means that a discourse could be made not in any particular interest of anyone. Meaning that there is no bias in that particular discourse. The question that still remains for me, is there an example of a discourse that is innocent?
    In “Encoding, Decoding” also written by Stuart Hall, Stuart Hall speaks about a negotiated code or position, I don’t understand what he means at all.

  3. I can’t always distinguish the meaning of “Discourse” and “Ideology” in “Discourse and Power” written by Stuart Hall. I have some problems that I can’t understand Discourse and Ideology. I think ideology is a group of people’s understanding and understanding of everything and a way of judging thinking. So I also think that Discourse should be part of ideology and not separate.

  4. In Stuart Hall’s ” The Discourse of Power “I believe I’d gain the understanding that discourse can be used in many ways in order to express the thoughts and ideology a person has depending on the given situation. On the other hand, while reading Judith Williamson’s “Decoding Advertisements” she expresses that advertisements are used in order to subtly connect a person’s thoughts to personal affections in order for the producers to sell the products to the consumers.

  5. In the text, “Discourse and Power” by Stuart Hall, I had difficulty trying to understand the theory of “discourse”. In the text “discourse” is described to be as “a group of statements which provide a language for talking about…a particular kind of knowledge about a topic”(Hall 202). I believe that “discourse” is the idea created by other people to describe a group of people from a different culture that holds different customs and traditions. My questions that remains is that if discourse only is applied to people that have power?

    In Decoding Advertisements by Judith Williamson, the theory that I have trouble with is the theory of “referent”, the referent is what a symbol is representing. I’m not sure how this is applied in to advertisements.

  6. In Decoding Advertisements, when Judith Williamson was trying to apply her theory on “product as signified” (31), she used the Sanderson wallpaper as one of the examples. Williamson implied Susan Hampshire’s classy personality onto the wallpaper that is a result of the referent or correlative relationship (33). She further extends her analysis onto the wording by stating wallpaper is what unified both Susan Hampshire and the Sanderson. However, question remains as where Susan Hampshire’s classy attribute came from? Is it derived from the classy furniture that was display before her? Is her admiration toward the furniture implied her classiness?
    In Discourse and Power, Stuart Hall’s discussion on the neutrality of discourse. However, in the realm of “the west and the rest”, discourse is not innocent as there was inequality between European and the colonial. In other word, there was power implied in discourse and the West was (and still is) exploiting the power in discourse to create their “regime of truth that best suite them. The validity of the claim is not important because this can often be overpowered by discourse that can overwrite even the proven truth in the claim. This raises the question of the innocence of the people who spread the message convey in the discourse. Will the person be part of the discourse?

  7. True or False? Stuart’s Hall’s “Discourse and Power”
    Hall observes the similarities of discourses seen in ideology, however questions the deciding distinctions between either concept. In doing so, he considers Foucault’s words in that “ideology is based on a distinction between true statements about the world (science) and false statements (ideology)” (202). Hall continues by asserting how Foucault observes how “‘the facts’ do not enable us to decide definitively about their truth or falsehood, partly because ‘facts’ can be construed in different ways. The very language we use to describe the so-called facts interferes in this process of finally deciding what is true and what is false” (203). In considering what really is fact or simple falsehoods, this then in turn looks at a theory of whether every form of ideology or in every discourse, there are a variable of true and false statements construed into any discourse, which based on possible factual claim, can be seen as coherently false or true entirely.

    Form, Content, Sign, Signifier and Signified Judith Williamson’s Decoding Advertisements
    The way Williamson refers to a signifier and the signified in simplified terms as form and content still seems hard to distinguish. By stating how “Form is invisible: a set of relations, a scaffolding to be filled out by ‘content’, which is seen as substantial, with a solidified meaning” (17), but then mentioning that “Signifiers are things, while form is invisible: signifieds are ideas, while content implies materiality” (18), only begets the idea of whether this update on terms means to connect that the form and content of an advertisement based on some sign will then already contain a partial implication of bias due to the connection.

  8. Stuart Hall’s text ” The Discourse of Power”, I understand the concept of discourse and how it could be implied in various ways to express ones emotions or thoughts. along with personal thinking it could be applied to ideology. I have difficulty ofunderstanding who the concept could be used by. Whether all people, regardless of status, could be applied In this concept.
    Judith Williamson’s “Decoding Advertisements” it shows the concept of advertising products and how it could have multiple meanings besides the one the producer is trying to show. I have difficulty understanding the concept shown in the beginning of chapter one. the ‘referent’ section.

  9. One theory that is difficult for me to understand in Stuart Hall’s “The West and The Rest: Discourse and Power” is “Could the discourse which developed in the West for talking about the Rest operate outside power?” (203). I think that Hall is asking us will the discourse be able to operate without any relation to power? I think that without power that would be very difficult because there would be no “West and the Rest”. One theory that was difficult for me to understand in “Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising” by Judith WIlliamson is ‘signifier and signified’ and the term ‘sign’. Williamson uses ‘signifier and signified’ instead of ‘form and content’ and says that “signifiers are things”. Although WIlliamson gave us definitions for each term separately she goes on to say that sign and signified are not in fact separated (18).

  10. Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising- Judith Williamson
    I have difficulty understanding what Williamson means when she explains the theory of the referent. I cannot distinguish between the referent and what is being signified.

    The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power- Stuart Hall
    If the “regime of truth” is controlled by those who have power, as those in power can create discourses can discourse ever be innocent? What we can deduce from Hall’s example is that it’s not.

  11. The theory that stood out to me the most and also confused me in “Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising” by Judith Williamson is that “Signifiers are things, while form is invisible: signifieds are ideas, while content implies materiality”(18). This was confusing when I first read it because of the way it was written. I couldn’t understand what she was trying to explain with this idea. After reading it multiple times I was able to understand that she was defining her definition/ replacement of ‘form and content’ as signifier and signifieds which changes the ‘form’ from invisible to things and the ‘content’ from materiality to ideas. This left me with the question of why where the ‘form’ and the ‘content’ separated into different concepts when they can relate and mean the same?
    In Stuart Hall’s “Discourse and Power”, the theory that was difficult for me to understand was “Could a discourse which developed in the West for talking about the Rest operate outside power? Could it be, in that sense, purely scientific- i.e. ideologically innocent?” (203). This is not the theory itself but it leads to the readers understanding that “Discourse is not reducible to class interests, but always operates in relation to power” (205). This confuses me because I don’t know if this means that power is innocent or not but rather, it doesn’t matter unless it(the discourse) has an effect in practice?

  12. IN the text “Discourse and Power” by Stuart Hall, the context seems relatable and not much comprehensible. But there was one theory that had me wonder upon its credibility. The topic was regarding section 3.3 on ‘Can a discourse be innocent?’. Hall says “This is hardly surprising: we often draw on what we already know about the world in order to explain something novel. It was never a simple matter’ of the West just looking, seeing, and describing the New World/the Rest without preconceptions.” (204). In the next paragraph, Hall adds on “But we must not suppose that what the Europeans said about the New World was simply a cynical mask for their own self-interest” (204). I do not completely agree with this theory. Although I agree that events that took place in the ppast is now misunderstood now adays, but however this does not mean that all actions took in the past can be justified. Hall says about British as how they had proper intention when it came to influence themselves around the world. But wherever they went, they brought poverty to land and benefit their own motherland and themselves. For example, Africa, which at one time, had the most wealth. The richest man ever recorded in history is ‘Mansa Musa’ who was African. But if we look nowadays, most African countries are considered the so-called ‘third world countries. Where did the mass fortune they had is now? It has all been extracted by Europeans. Another example is India. India was the wealthiest place on earth until 1500AD. It had tons of golds and many international companies did business in India. When British came, they slowly took Indian mass wealth and drained it to poverty line. The most precious diamond ‘Koh-i-Noor’ was discovered in India but is ow in the custody of British. I do not agree with Europeans when is comes to them being innocent.
    Judith Williamson in her text “Decoding Advertisements” says regarding an AD of Catherine Deneuve’s, “It is not enough simply to know who Catherine Deneuve is: this will not help you to understand the ad. Someone from another culture who knew that Catherine Deneuve was a model and film star would not still understand the significance of her image here , because they would not have access to the referent system here” (26). I had a question, that if only a small amount of people with the proper knowledge would understand that ad, then why do magazine produce these kinds of ads. Isn’t ad made for producing the maximum money?

  13. Discourse and Power: Stuart Hall
    Hall raises the question of whether discourse is innocent or not. He later mentions that discourse creates power. When reading this part , I wasn’t sure whether the discourse is done through force, or through convincing, or is it done by free will? When Hall talks about the Europeans coming to the New World, it seems like they used their power to convince the people, rather than force them, to convert to Christianity, for example. Is this true all the time?

    Decoding Advertisements: Judith Williamson
    Williamson talks about her theory of Referent Systems, and brings an example from Saussure. He brings the word “horse” and says that the referent of that is what kicks , meaning the object itself, and from what I understand, the signifier is the object that is being shown , so what exactly is the difference between them ?
    From what I understand, the difference is that the referent is not part of the sign, as it states on page 20, and the signifier is part of the sign, together with the signified.

  14. In Stuart Hall’s “Discourse and Power” I struggled to grasp the idea of discourse in relation to the theories and ideas of the essay.

    From “Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising” by Judith Williamson, I struggled with the concepts of the signifier, the signified, and the referent.

  15. In Hall’s “Discourse and Power” Hall mentions Foucault, stating that he “argues that statements about the social, political, or moral world are rarely ever simply true or false; and ‘the facts’ do not enable us to decide definitively about their truth or falsehood, partly because ‘facts’ can be construed in different ways.”(202-203). My understanding of this quote and the example about the Palestinians is that when it comes to discourse, there is no definitive way of telling what is the truth or what is false, because the way information can be presented in different ways, changing what a person would understand as the truth or not.
    In Williamson’s “Decoding Advertisements”, Williamson states that terminology that she “will use in place of ‘form and content’ is that of ‘signifier and signified'(17). She follows up by saying that “Signifiers are things, while form is invisible: signified are ideas, while content implies materiality”(18). When she uses “signifiers and signified” I think that she is saying that those terms make whatever she is describing more tangible than “form and content”

  16. In “Discourse and Power” by Stuart Hall, Hall mentions a point by Foucault “Not only is discourse always implicated in power; discourse is one of the ‘systems’ through which power circulates” (204). This theory of Foucault on his take of discourse and power seems to be both a coherent theory and a difficult one to understand at first glance. I believe Foucault means when there is a debate regardless of whether its political, social, etc it is always in the tempo and influence of the “power” of each faction. And that power is both gained, lost, and converted through discourse. In “Decoding Advertisements” by Judith Williamson “The terminology which I will use in place of ‘form and content’ is that of ‘signifier and signified'” (17).

  17. In “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power,” Stuart Hall mentioned that according to Foucault, “when power eperates so as to enforce the ‘truth’ of any set of statements, then such a discrutive formation produces a ‘regime of truth'” (205). Does the theory here imply that “discrusive formations” are never innocent? And does the operation of power always indicates “class interests”? (205).

    In “Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising,” Judith Williamson’s theory on using the terminology of ‘signifier and signified’ in place of ‘form and content’ confuses as I’m unable to find out the purpose of introducing ‘form and content’ but not using them in the context of the essay (17-18).

  18. In the beginning of section 3.1 in “Discourse of Power” Hall opens with describing the general use of the word discourse and the use of the definition. The problem I am having is the correlation between the initial definition and the definition placed by Hall, and whether they counteract or coincide with the topics discussed. Hall also states that when something is discoursed a certain way it limits the ability to discourse it in other ways, now my confusion arises from the gray area presented. What is the determining factors, the criteria needed to follow, and how to determine which “discoursed” view/opinion fits more than others,

  19. A theory from Hall’s “Discourse and Power” which I have trouble understanding is – “discoursed are not reducible to class-interests, but always operate in relation to power” (205). I understand how it functions in relation to power but I don’t understand what is meant by the phrase ‘not reducible to class-interests”.
    In Williamson’s “Decoding Advertisements”, I’m having trouble distinguishing between the referent and what’s being signified. In the advertisement examples the author provided, the factor she claims to be the referent and what’s claimed to be signified, sounds too similar to me.

  20. Judith Williamson’s Decoding Advertisements theory of assumption and fait accompli are used to analysis advertisements. assumption is a concept that I understand, but not in relation to fait accompli and presenting a meaning to the reader.
    Stuart Hall’s “Discourse of Power” talks about the similarities between discourse and ideology. Both separate concepts are pretty simple to grasp, but the use of power and its role between the two is something that I am not completely understanding.

  21. “Discourse and Power”- Stuart Hall

    I understand the basic concept and definition of discourse, but when Hall talks about it as a “system of dispersion”, it’s a bit confusing.

    “Decoding Advertisements”- Judith Williamson

    What is the difference between the signifier, signified and referent?

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