POL 3910:
HONORS SEMINAR: AMERICAN POLITICS:
THE ELITIST-PLURALIST DEBATE
Fall 2003

Kilbourne essay assignment


We have five days between when we see the Kilbourne video(s) and when this is due.  During that time I'd like you to pay attention to ways in which issues (or aspects of the world in general) are framed for us by advertisements—that is, make us consider them within the context of one set of assumptions rather than another.  Framing works best when its targets are not aware of it—when its message is implicit rather than explicit, when alternatives aren't denied but rather ignored.

You will find it easiest to extend Kilbourne's examples, since role-constrained images of women are everywhere, as are images of the "accepted" or "correct" relationship between men and women.  But in addition to looking for these subjects, I would also like you to extend your observations beyond Kilbourne's, in two ways.  First, I'd like you to look at media beyond advertising.  Think of ways that your conceptions of the world are channeled by TV, music, newspapers, radio, magazines, and so on.

Second, I'd like you to look at other issues besides women's roles.  Kilbourne showed how to do such an analysis in the domain she is interested in;  now you find other domains.  You might think of groups that aren't perceived accurately, or issues where there's a lot of misunderstanding.  Or other things—I don't mean this as an exhaustive list.  Remember that your examples don't have to be explicitly political in nature.  Some of the best framing is done precisely when we are fooled into thinking that an issue isn't political.  A major advance by the women's movement was made when they discovered that "the personal is political."

Please write up what you have found in a two-page-maximum essay.  If you can attach actual examples to this essay, so much the better.

As with all your assignments, please follow this standard writing format.


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