Cultural and Critical Studies 2005 Abstracts

Cultural and Critical Studies Division

“Stoke The Joke” and his “Self-Appointed White Critics:” A Clash of Values on Network Television News 1966-1970 • Mary Blue, Loyola University and Vanessa Murphree, University of South Alabama • The three television networks framed the events of the civil rights movement and offered them to a nation seeking understanding. With Stokely Carmichael, news coverage changed. Carmichael threatened established values and challenged the moderate movement. This paper is about a clash of ideologies and the values upon which they are based – black power versus television. It examines the network television news coverage of Carmichael from 1966 – 1970, focusing on the struggle for hegemony.

The Salt River Ticket Democratic Discourse and Nineteenth Century American Politics • Dr. Mark Brewin, University of Tulsa • The topic of the paper is genre of nineteenth century campaign communication called Salt River Tickets. The tickets, which mocked the opposing side through caricature and irony, were passed out to those who supported the losing candidates in the days following Presidential elections.

Rebirth of a Nation: Race, Myth and the News 2005 • Rockell A. Brown, Xavier University of Louisiana, Kim LeDuff, Hampton University and Christopher Campbell, Ithaca College • This paper revisits a 1995 study that found local television news to perpetuate racist myths about people of color. The authors examined 17 hours of local news recorded in nine American cities in January 2005. Their textual analysis argues that local TV journalism continues to reify the attitudes of contemporary racism. The authors also describe the growing body of work in Critical Race Theory and its implications for the study of race and media.

Amusing Ourselves to Death or Some Young Voters’ New Subculture – The Phenomena of The Daily Show During the 2004 Presidential Election • Ying-Ying Chen, University of Texas at Austin • The Daily Show, a news satire, became a regular news source for some well-educated young voters during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. This study found a new model of political communication challenges the paradigm of mainstream news media. A subculture of young people is looming through its shared values of the show. These young people identify more dissatisfaction with political discourse than others.

The Author, the Text and the Genre: A Genre Analysis of Qiong Yao’s Huanzhu Gege • ShaoChun Cheng, Ohio University • In the Chinese world, Taiwan’s cultural worker Qiong Yao is a household name, and her popularity has long been built on her romantic novels, film adaptations, and TV drama productions. Her most popular work so far is definitely the TV drama series Huanzhu Gege (Huanzhu Princess). In this paper, I try to make sense of the popularity of Huanzhu Gege in the Chinese communities through analysis of the genre.

May the Circle Stay Unbroken: Friends and the “Presence of Absence” as a Rhetorical Reinforcement of Whiteness • Phil Chidester, Illinois State University • Whiteness has been largely conceived as a subject position that is discursively negotiated, yet rarely explicitly addressed in the social discourse. Friends demonstrates how media texts as forms of visual rhetoric may reinforce notions of racial identity without speaking race. Presenting the closed circle as a visual metaphor, Friends turns to “the presence of absence” to perpetuate whiteness as a subjectivity that claims an exclusive racial position while maintaining its “purity” through active exclusion of the Other.

The New Civil (Liberties) War: John Ashcroft’s use of the Mythic Hero Abraham Lincoln to Legitimize Government Secrecy and Reduced Civil Liberties • David Cuillier, Washington State University, • This critical discourse analysis examines the strategic and hegemonic use of a U.S. mythic hero, Abraham Lincoln, in the speeches of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to justify reduced civil liberties, empowering the dominant political and social structures. This study identified four mythic hero actions that provide a source of legitimacy for U.S. policy, suggesting that using mythic national heroes in political speeches is a powerful discursive strategy to favor the powerful and subjugate the disadvantaged.

When Pictures Get Legs: The Search for Meaning in Iconic Images from Conventional and Unconventional News Sources in Iraq • Dennis Dunleavy, San Jose State University • This study evaluates news images, created from divergent sources, signifying visually prescribed norms in society. Semiotic analysis is used to tease out the normative function of media images. In this analysis, an image depicting a hooded Iraqi prisoner made by a combatant and an image made by embedded journalist of a soldier smoking a cigarette after battle are evaluated. Ultimately, this paper argues that news photographs confer meaning through reinforcing prescribed social, moral and cultural values.

Communicating Values: The Influence of Corporate Sponsorship of the 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer • Heidi Hatfield Edwards, Penn State University • Between 1998 and 2002, Avon, the cosmetics company, sponsored a series of extreme fundraising events to raise money for breast cancer.’ The scope of the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer Walks was massive, including thousands of participants, contributors, and spectators. In four years, more than 58,000 participants walked in the three-day, 60-mile event in cities throughout America.

C-SPAN, See White: A Critical Analysis of Washington Journal’s Guests • Chinedu (Ocek) Eke, Elon University • This study critically examines C-SPAN’s Washington Journal for the month of June 2004. By having an overwhelming number of white males as guests on the show, CSPAN legitimizes this group while marginalizing non-whites and women. Using cultivation analysis as a theoretical framework, this author proposes that the lack of minority or women experts on television relegates them to old stereotypes that suggest they have little or nothing to offer. This research challenges that notion.

Unraveling The Knot: Hegemony, Gender, and Weddings in Mass Media • Erika Engstrom, University of Nevada, Las Vegas • This paper examines the hegemonic messages about weddings and women disseminated by The Knot, the “#1 wedding website with brand extensions in magazines, books, and, with the cable outlet Oxygen, the reality television program Real Weddings from the Knot. The author unravels the various cross-over alliances of the Knot and analyzes the program’s content in terms of its promotion of wedding consumerism and a hegemony of femininity which emphasizes female beauty and role as consumer.

“What Is Your Favorite Word?” Celebrity, Orality, And Memory Inside The Actors Studio • Kevin Esch, University of Iowa • The talk show Inside the Actors Studio aspires to transcend its genre in an American media landscape dominated by banal, disposable celebrification. The show’s central contradiction, operating on multiple levels, is between its earnest, sophisticated discussions of the craft of acting and the commodification of the talk show format and film and television celebrities. How the show and its host negotiate this conflict becomes itself a kind of historiography of American acting culture.

“Anti-Aging” Magazine Advertising and the War on Nature • Kim Golombisky, University of South Florida • This essay examines “anti-aging” skincare advertising in women’s magazines to wonder about the representational politics of midlife women. If culture defines beauty as a woman’s greatest asset and defines beauty by youth, then it is no surprise that anti-aging advertising consists of a battle cry to wage a high-tech war on aging.

A Saidian Interpretation of Hi International • Clay Guinn, University of Houston • This study uses Edward Said’s theories to explore the cultural imperialism of Hi International, a glossy teen magazine funded by the U.S. State Department as an instrument of public diplomacy in the Middle East. While the publication’s goal is to expose its audience to American cultural exports, this literary analysis suggests that its language echoes a hegemonic Orientalism. Hi casts the Muslim world as an “Other” that desperately needs Western education and acculturation.

Manly Phil-osophy, Womanly Television; Hegemonic Masculinity and Dr. Phil’s “Tell It Like It Is” Talk Therapy • Lori Henson and Radhika Parameswaran, Indiana University • This paper analyzes Dr. Philip McGraw and his popular self-help talk show, Dr. Phil, to show the discursive ways in which television’s representations of therapeutic empowerment contribute to the production of hegemonic masculinity in post-Sept. 11 America. Conducting a textual analysis of McGraw’s media performance and episodes from the talk show, we argue that Dr. Phil offers a new version of masculinity that appears to incorporate sensitivity and responsibility.

Normative Aims for Journalistic Art Criticism • Thomas Hove, University of Wisconsin-Madison • This paper explores political and intellectual reasons for what Elkins (2003) calls “the flight from judgment” in journalistic criticism about the visual arts. Journalists are educated and trained according to a sociological perspective that regards artistic values and aesthetic experiences with suspicion. The author argues that if future journalists are not trained to make informed judgments about artworks and to articulate subjective aesthetic responses, journalism will continue to disregard the private and social benefits of art.

Images and Sounds as Representation in Print Media: Locating Power and Identity in Image-Sound Relationships • Katy June-Friesen, University of Missouri-Columbia • This paper explores how print media reflects and produces identities through relationships of images, sounds, and printed language. Visual and sonic representations are employed in media to construct concepts of race, gender, and class through social practices of seeing and hearing. Bringing together visual theories and theories of sound in culture, I argue we should look more closely at print media representations of visual and sonic culture as sites of power and inter-textual meaning making.

Habitus and Symbolic Power: Media representations of Africa’s AIDS and medication Issue • Euichul Jung, Rutgers University and Joo-ah Ahn, Dongshin University • This study critiques how Africa’s AIDS and medication issue is portrayed in different types of newspapers. It looks into the interconnection between the political economy of intellectual property and the AIDS crisis in Africa. As Bourdieu (1984; 1998) argues, the media’s symbolic power is essential in the confirmation of differences between social groups and classes.

Feminist Discourse and The Hegemonic Role of Mass Media: A Study of Newspaper Discourse About Two South Korean Television Dramas • Sumi Kim, University of Minnesota • With various social changes, there has been a notable cultural trend in which feminist concerns have been conveyed through many popular culture texts in South Korea since the early 1990s. In response to popular feminism, many different social groups and organizations have been engaged in the formation of feminist discourse, among them the mainstream media.

Reporting on “A Grieving Army of Americans”: The Symbolic Role of the Ordinary Citizen in News Coverage of Ronald Reagan’s Death • Carolyn Kitch, Temple University • For a week following Ronald Reagan’s death in June 2004, a series of official and vernacular rituals dominated American journalism. Through a rhetorical and narrative analysis of nearly 1,000 reports from the nation’s leading news organizations, this study explores how this coverage escalated and shifted from historical summary to nostalgia -becoming a story that focused not on the dead former President, but on “ordinary mourners” who turned out by the thousands to talk to reporters about the meaning of America.

Bollywood and the diaspora: The flip side of globalization and Hybridity in the construction of identities. • Anup Kumar, University of Iowa • Bollywood movies are just symptomatic of a larger phenomenon of media organizations, from India, China, and the Arab countries, reaching out to émigré audiences in the West. The paper suggests that in a way this has flipped the binary dialectic of global/local to local/global. An in the process is constructing deterritorialized-imagined communities’ and ‘hybrid identities’, in a post-national context of globalization, free of the geography of nation-states.

Face-to-face Sexual BZranding: Female Employees Discuss Erotic Codes Used in Promotional Activities • Jacqueline Lambiase, Texas Tech University • This study analyzes the codes of sexualized dress, entertainment environments, and flirtatious behavior expected by mainstream corporations for some promotional work. Narrative interviewing of female workers, coupled with theme analysis and with theory on sexual scripts, reveals the powerful hidden directives that management issued to sexualize commercial spaces. Women became objectified employees, and sexual appeals were intentionally used hand-in-hand with more traditional, sanctioned selling behaviors to build brands and to attract attention.

Sensationalism, Race and the Decline of Objectivity in the Wen Ho Lee Affair • J. Patrick McGrail, Susquehanna University • Two trends – the consolidation of media companies into fewer hands, with the resultant need to extract more profit from their news divisions, and the concomitant decline of newspaper readership forced newspapers in the 1990s to rely on entertainment values, especially sensationalism, that are anathematic to the ethical value of objectivity. In the case of falsely accused scientist Wen Ho Lee, this may have taken the form of shoddy reporting and race-baiting, even by the New York Times.

Members of the Club: Drawing a Boundary of Whiteness around the ASNE • Gwyneth Mellinger, Baker University • This paper performs a discourse analysis of the way in which membership criteria inadvertently fashioned the American Society of Newspaper Editors into a racially segregated organization. Using the theoretical framework of whiteness, this project also demonstrates how this exclusionary mechanism was maintained over time and helped to preserve the ASNE as an all-white, and later as a predominately white, organization, despite the ASNE’s own efforts to diversify the newspaper industry.

(Dis)Empowerment in Sex and the City • Fernando Paragas, Ohio University • This textual analysis explored femininity as a social construct as portrayed in Sex and the City, and concluded that despite outward appearances of empowerment, the show’s characters were ultimately disempowered individuals who, even as they found strength from each other, continued to be pawns to patriarchy. It contributes to the literature on postmodern feminism, or on how women must realize that their purported exercise of power against the patriarchy could actually serve to strengthen it.

The Impact of Big-Budget Cinema Production on the Aotearoal New Zealand Film Industry: a Historical-Contemporary Discussion • Robert Peaslee, University of Colorado, • This paper examines the Aoteroaf New Zealand film industry, which has recently experienced a tremendous influx of attention, capital, and praise, due in large part to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the resulting “Frodo” Economy. By examining historical periods in which similar booms have occurred, and addressing the history of biculturalism in the AJNZ national cinema, the discussion raises many questions about governmental attempts to capitalize on the industry’s newfound notoriety through various acts of cultural policy and financing.

The Blindspot in the Political Economy Versus Cultural Studies Debate • Janice Peck, University of Colorado at Boulder • This paper revisits the “cultural studies vs. political economy” debate between Nicholas Garnham and Lawrence Grossberg and argues that neither perspective has resolved the core question dividing them-how to think the relationship between “the cultural” and “the economic”-because both conceive these as distinct areas of human activity. I propose the way beyond this dualism lies in a materialist theory of signification found in the work of Raymond Williams, Maurice Godelier and Jean-Paul Sartre.

“If This Were All I Knew… How Alternative-Media Users Imagine the Mainstream Audience • Jennifer Rauch, Long Island University • This discourse analysis examines how two audience groups-activists who used alternative media and non-engaged students who consumed mainstream news-constructed disparate interpretations of a network TV news program. Focused interviews revealed that unlike the students, the activists consciously recognized the polysemy of news texts. The active, resistant readers played games of interpretation such as role-playing, inventing dialogue and using conditionals contrary to fact (e.g. “if’). They distanced their own interpretations from those of imagined normal viewers-a strategy demonstrating the third-person effect.

Statewide Public Affairs Television: Developing an Ideal Type • Karen M. Rowley, Louisiana State University • Statewide public affairs television systems now exist in 20 states. These systems provide coverage of their respective legislatures in much the same way that C-SPAN covers the U.S. Congress. However, funding mechanisms, structures, and programming vary among these systems. Using information gathered as part of previous research, this project re-examines the data pertaining to funding, structure, and programming in an effort to determine the most effective operational model for these systems.

Imagining Contemporaries: The Emergence of a Global Identity • Adina Schneeweis, University of Minnesota • This study explores the way a global identity is imagined by individuals, independent of national or regional identities. Using Romanians as a case study, in-depth interviews were conducted to determine how and why these Romanians, living in their home country or abroad, come to form a global identity, if any.

The Media Framing of the ‘Mean Girl’: Implications of the Race, Gender, and Class Constructions of Mean Girls as Explored in the Glenbrook North Hazing Incident • Shayla Thiel, DePaul University • The influx of literature about “mean girls” that culminated in a popular film of the same name has done much to further stereotypes about race, gender, and class within popular culture. This paper focuses on the infamous Glenbrook North High School shown worldwide on videotape.

Invisible Cycle of Scapegoating: U.S. Media Coverage of Immigration “Panics” 1929-1994 • Christopher N. Williams, University of Texas at Austin • This study analyzes media coverage of four 20th century immigration “panics,” in which undocumented immigrants served as convenient scapegoats for larger social ills. The study argues that a significant and under-researched aspect of these events was the role played by the major U.S. mainstream media – including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, US. News and World Report and the Saturday Evening Post – in perpetuating this scapegoating process.

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