Beyond Representational Correctness: Rethinking Criticism of by Edward Schiappa

By Edward Schiappa

Argues that representational correctness may cause critics to overlook the confident paintings that motion pictures and tv exhibits can practice in decreasing prejudice.

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How much persuasion The Argumentative Burdens of Audience Conjectures 35 happens at an unconscious level? To what extent might a text affect audience members without them knowing it? These are just a few of the important theoretical questions that concern all popular culture critics, and such questions will receive richer and more persuasive answers if critics are assisted by audience research. , Rarick, Duncan, Lee, & Porter, 1977; Cohen, 1991; Press, 1991). Indeed, Livingstone argues, “Text and audience can no longer be seen as independent or studied separately” (1993, p.

411). Based on their listening experience of Keillor’s popular radio program, Foss and Foss argue that Keillor’s monologues illustrate a “feminine spectator stance” through “refusal to privilege sight, dismantling of the male gaze, creation of Lake Wobegon as a feminine setting, and feminine speaking style” (1994, p. 412). Most of their analysis in the essay provides textual evidence to support their claims, but in the conclusion Foss and Foss make specific claims about the effects Keillor’s radio monologues have on listeners.

It is neither expected nor especially desired that expert readings of popular culture texts be limited by how “lay” audiences interpret or react to them. Nonetheless, along the way to offering expert critical insights about popular culture texts, critics often make assumptions or explicit claims about audiences that deserve further investigation. Among the assumptions that require investigation is whether professional critics are as immune to the ideological workings of popular culture texts as some textual analysis implies.

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