Review of Week 10 (Oct 24, 26) and Preview of Week 11
2:00 Class (by Blake Hoffmeyer)
This past week, the discussion moved into one of ideology and the overall concepts which permeate culture and affect both literature and how the reading world embraces it. We began with the various methods, namely the “prescriptive” and the “descriptive” methods. The prescriptive method deals with the “shoulds” of ideology, as in the way that things ought to be in terms of mores. The descriptive method deals with mapping out what is actually there. Both of these work to explain and lay out the different intricacies in ideology, they just work in different ways. The example we discussed in class was from the book in regards to urban youth crime. It asked the question of who was to blame. The consensus that developed was intriguing, showing that politicians and the like might blame parents, the culture, and the media (among others), whereas people in areas of social science might be more likely to point to an economic foundation as the reasoning behind urban youth crime. These two examples demonstrate very effectively the difference between prescriptive and descriptive methods. The instance of blaming the parents or culture indicates more of a prescriptive method. It is talking about the various things that should be in a society. The latter example, speaking of the social science seeing the issue as more economic, something a little more tangible and solid, demonstrates the descriptive method. The conversation went further with this as we began to talk about things like drinking on college campuses, who gets blamed, and like the issue of urban youth crime, also served to explain the situation as it was.
After these examples, there was the discussion regarding the concept of ideologies not coming from one singular source, but instead being intertwined series of ideas which form ideologies. We moved then to a discussion regarding the different views on ideology. Dr. Seaman gave an example of two different views between herself and her husband in regards to progress and how, depending on how you see each facet, an ideology can be a different lens through which you actively engage it.
We moved forward into the Media part of our discussion in ideology. The media involvement discussion began with the question posed regarding passivity in consumption of media. This passivity was negated in discussion as Dr. Seaman pointed out what exactly went into our consuming it. As such, even with shows like South Park and Beavis and Butthead, we are still consumers of media.
After all of this, we discussed the annotated bibliography assignment. Blake asked a two-part foolish question and was embarrassed afterward. We discussed thesis statements and Dr. Seaman placed on the overhead a set of four examples. These were instrumental in pointing out the necessary aspects of a thesis statement, and the importance of having a statement which is supportable. We then spent the remainder of the class going over MLA works cited page issues and examples.
“Wow…that sounds like he’s the one who didn’t know.” (reference to the Pat Buchanan quote). -Brandon
“So is this like my question the other day about the ‘American’ ideology?” -Erin
“We used to be one America.” -Pat Buchanan
“Ideology is what you think before you act.” -Dr. Seaman
“You cannot learn through common sense how things are, you can only discover how they fit into the scheme of things. ” Theory Toolbox read by Dr. Seaman
Beavis and Butthead
Separate but Equal (For Pat Buchanan)
3:20 class (by Hannah Starke)
We started off Tuesday’s class when some exciting news: just four straight weeks until Thanksgiving break and, if we’re honest, that pretty much means that the end of the semester is almost here.
However, before you get too excited, here are some friendly reminders of things due before then:
10/31: Revision of response paper
11/8: Preliminary bibliography of 15 sources due
11/10: Sample Annotation due
11/22: Full Annotated bibliography due
Dr. Seaman opened the class by saying “Today is a big idea day”. Theory Toolbox’s chapter on Ideology revolved around this. As the book told us, Ideology is, literally, the study of ideas. However, just as we had two different ways of talking about culture, so we have two different ways of talking about ideology: as a “false consciences” and as the simple ‘common sense’ that we take for granted.
The former is defined in the book as “a discourse that always misrepresents concrete conditions and specific causes”(TT84). We talked about this in terms of the Teen crime example used. The book put forth that we can blame it on poor parenting and society all we want, but what this ultimately comes down to is that crime is a lucrative business. This form of ideology is prevalent because people such as politicians benefit from it. If we were to focus on the real causes, the solution would merit a complete change in what our society is based on.
We then turned our attention to the working question in the book. It asked what seemed “ideological” about the press coverage on binge drinking on college campuses. The class argued that binge drinking wasn’t something that was expected in college, but it’s not necessarily the only place we see it. As others brought up: drinking a form of escape, it’s a way to get away from regular life, it’s social, and it has cultural roots.
But, ultimately, what does this say about our society? Is our apparent binge drinking epidemic a sign of some bigger issue, or is it simply part of our society? As Stephan pointed out, “For a lot of cultures, drinking is interwoven into their identity”.
We then moved on to how ideology ties in with common sense. Essentially, why do we understand things the way we do? There are many things in our society that are givens, though it’s not something that would be ‘common sense’ to anyone outside of our culture. Take for instance the lines of the road. Though those are completely ingrained in us, they are not necessarily something you would just look at and understand if you weren’t familiar with our culture.
Bedford summed up ideologies as a set of beliefs that sustains a culture. But how can we have several ideologies existing within one society without massive amounts of problems. Well, as Pat Buchanan so eloquently put, we were all better off when the races were separated back “in the good old days”. The principle of his book, namely that “we were separate, but we were one”, as well as the apocalyptical title Suicide of a Super Power: Will America survive to 2025?, drew quite a bit of laughter from the class, so I believe it is safe to assume that we took it as a pretty ridiculous argument. However, this clearly represents the power of ideology. Because Buchannan is so blatantly ignorant of anything out his white sphere of influence, he has built this ideology that everything must have been better and simpler when he was young because different races never had to interact.
We finished the day with a talk on media in the culture today. Again, the idea of low and high culture was encountered as different types of entertainment were discussed. For instance, one might argue that it takes substantially more brain power to read and process Jane Eyre than it does to watch Beavis and Butthead. However, both of these require us to constantly analyze as we attempt to place the context it’s in and how best to interpret it.
As for social media, perhaps Dr. Seaman summed it up best. “How much of your soul do you have to sacrifice?”. The more and more we become tied up with facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc. the more we become part of the internet. While this kind of media is certainly empowering, and has been used for good across the globe, it’s something we should think about.
On October 25th, we had a peer review session with our formal response essays. Relatively little was said in ways of real discussion; however, Dr. Seaman gave us some tips for making sure we have a coherent and good paper:
1.)Have a clear claim and thesis
2.)Make sure you don’t have any “straw men”
3.)Make sure you have something to back up your claims
We also looked at some sample thesis sentences, which we analyzed in terms of how they might frame an argumentative essay. We then spent a good bit of time talking about how to properly cite and set up a bibliography page
1.) If it’s an in text citation, use the first word from the citation on your bibliography page. Ex. (smith45) for a source beginning: Smith, John. I Love Dogs…
2.) If you have multiple sources with the same author, include the title in your in text citations. Ex. (Smith, I Love Dogs 45) and (Smith, I Love Cats 47)
3.) Parenthesis go outside the quotation marks
4.) If you need to change verb tense, use brackets. Ex. Smith “want[s] none of it”
5.) If something is spelled or punctuated wrong, put [sic] Ex. Smith lorves[sic] dogs”
6.) ‘Works Cited’ should be centered on the citation page
7.) Sources should be in alphabetical order
8.) Sources need to have a hanging indent
“Ideology is that group of intertwining beliefs that makes possible certain kinds of cultural consensus or knowledge…” (87, TT)
“…all cultural acts take place in some relations to ideology: critical, complicit, a little of both. There is no simple escape from ideology, just as there is no premise-free (that is to say no merely ‘objective’ knowledge.” (91, TT)
“You cannot learn through common sense how things are. You can only discover where they fit in the existing scheme of things.” (New version of TT)
“When things start changing is when tensions arise” – Dr. Seaman
Ideology – set of beliefs underlying the customs, habits, and practices common to a given social group. (Bedford Glossary)
Preview of Week 11 (by Dr. Seaman)
Monday at 9am your revision of your Response essay is due in OAKS. The rest of the week should be spent working on the Preliminary Bibliography, which is due next TUESDAY (Nov 8—new due date) at 9am. After that, on THURSDAY Nov 10 (new due date!), the Formal Annotation is due. I’ve changed the deadlines for the rest of the semester so we can make the most of my office hours on MW afternoons.
This week in class we will spend some quality time with Theory Toolbox, building on recent discussions of Culture and Ideology with our new topics, Space/Time (Monday) and History (Wednesday). On Monday, the central claim in the chapter is “Space and time are deeply social as opposed to natural phenomena” (109). See how they support this in the chapter, and consider, at the end of it, how you might connect the chapter’s issues to those of the “Subjectivity” chapter.
Wednesday we get to the past: “History” in Theory Toolbox and “historicism” in the Bedford. However, it feels like we’ve been in constant engagement with the past throughout the semester, thanks in large part to our reading and re-reading of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath and to our extended attention to formalism/New Criticism. Consider what the TT chapter on the subject offers that we haven’t encountered or produced ourselves in our discussions this semester.