Journal Entry #14 (04/15/14)

In my television criticism class we discussed the thought of both cultural and ideological approaches to criticism. This again served as a basic approach and application to the artifact, rather than on theory. But what it did for me was cover the basics that really opened up the way I should look at my text, since I am using an ideological approach.

The first was the view of the text. If one looks at society as a tower, the way ideologies are carried out is from the top down. The few individuals/institutions/etc. that represent the minority of power that control the idea are located at the top and influence flows from the top down. Next, understanding again the thought of hegemony, the process in which the dominant group remains dominant, the outcome of that result becomes the ideology. Therefore, looking at an ideological approach in a text requires that the critic focuses on the maintenance of the idea and how it is carried out.

So in my text, I believe that if I take the position of the dominant group, being a conservative mind to the history of the United States, I can see the idea of America being the greatest country, manifested from its beginnings and being the light of the world. The text will then give multiple examples of heroic acts that show the greatness of America and what we should hold onto, regardless of opposition from others. But I also believe that it would be my job as a critic to possibly show that this master narrative way of thinking could be flawed and creates a sense of groupthink. It might show that Americans who buy into these types of stories can have a flawed sense of thinking.


In conclusion, I believe that these journal entries have kept a great catalogue of my thinking process. It has shown my progression and really have helped in organizing my thoughts, keeping me on track, and build the necessary thought into writing a critique.


Journal Entry #13 (04/12/14)

Today I have had to do some reverse engineering with discovering text related to William R. Brown and "Ideology as a Communication Process." I have looked for the text directly, but have found it only available if the article is purchased. I don't think that I should pay for academic knowledge for this. So I have thought of other ways to go about drawing out the information so that I can understand what Brown has to say about ideology in the field of rhetorical criticism.

I first found an critique on someone that used Brown's ideological approach for their own criticism extracted the information that they use in the methods and background section to gain a basic understanding of the subject matter. The article is entitled, "Attention, Power, and Need: The Rhetoric of Religion and Revolution in Nicaragua" by Mark A. Gring. The basic synopsis of the article is to cover the religious environment in Nicaragua in 1979 and into the early 1980's. The analysis of Brown's constructs in attention, power, need are used to analyze the discourse of individuals who are interviewed about their individual religious commitment and involvement in the Nicaraguan revolution. The findings of the critique found that the situation presented a unique blending of religious arguments and Marxist social analysis in order to achieve a just, utopian society which gave preferential treatment to the poor as the the embodiment of Christ and as the organizing need which had to be materialized" (Gring, 34).

The focus for me in reading this article is to gain certain Brown attributes to analysis in ideology. Gring uses three attributes: attention shift, power cycle, and need cycle in order to analyze the effectiveness of the text. The attention cycle is defined by Gring as:

"seeking to determine how language is used to focus the attention of the participants in the intervention. Brown uses 'attention-shift' to describe the perspectival and epistemic changes of this involved in the intervention. This attention switch is linguistically connected to the overcharging worldview (or organizing metaphor; Pepper, 1942) around which one's situation is understood" (29-30).

The power cycle "involves determining who has a share in the future choosing. This share in future-choosing is determined by the degree of interdependency felt by the members of the social system. Brown implies that the total number of power shares in a system does not necessarily increase or decrease as individuals join or leave a social system. However, within the social system, power shares are shifted form one group/individual to another as the levels of interdependency are determined by those who participate in that system" (Gring 32-33).

Need Cycle
The Social Intervention model characterizes needs either as biosocial givens or as construed through communication; nevertheless, both types are accepted as human needs. The model urges the rhetorician to examine whether advocate of needs is encouraged or discouraged, whether needs are affirmed or denied, who is deemed able to meet the needs and, finally, whether the needs increase or decrease the individual or the collective need salience" (Gring, 33-34).


Journal Entry #12 (04/08/14)

In class we had a discussion that focused on visual communication and visual images as rhetoric. We used an example from "American History" and it sparked a lot of discussion. The image of Columbus was used and everyone in the class talked about what they saw, describing what stood out to them in the image. I was able to hear what others thought and it was helpful to me that I saw a lot of similarities in my own thoughts. It also led to the theme of management of a master narrative, how it is made into a fairy tale, and is clean and sterile. I have found a lot of other instances in the text that lend to these themes that will make for some inferences to take away from the piece.

Next, we talked about if visual images by themselves are rhetoric. Most comments lend to the thought that the text gives the image power. I believe that it is the other way around, that images reinforce and give the words power. Also, the image alone doesn't carry meaning. The image can only receive power, by either content or context, telling it to. In "American History," I believe the images and portrayals of figures illuminate the unspoken value of them. The example of Columbus looking righteous and took over so easily, while standing in a proud way suggest the words that are captioned.


Journal Entry #11 (04/06/14)

Today my focus of entry is looking at some of the visual description of images that has caught my attention. What I have noticed with some of the images relate to the audience that it is trying to reach, as well as who the images are portraying.

First, the images are post 1966. Without actually knowing the date of the publication, I have figured this out by the last entry of the text as something from 1966. Therefore, in order to understand the style of comics and illustration of the time I have looked at others that are close to the same style. Ben-Day dots were popular during the 1950's and 60's in main stream comics. This was a cheaper way to create color, only using a 4-color pallet, but using different spacing and arrangement in order to create different colors. This style is commonly found in many comics and newspapers. Therefore it is it would be likely accepted and familiar to its young audience. By seeing something that is attractive and familiar, the audience could be more engaged and likely to accept the stories and messages implanted into them.

Next, looking at the way some characters are projected are influential to the audience. Using the Ben-Day style, the images are still drawn in 2D and only illuminate colors, rather than detail. Page 27 has an image of Abraham Lincoln. It is illustrated straight-forward, like a portrait would be painted. The image does not show the textures of Lincoln's beard or intricate marks on his face. Only major landmarks like wrinkles on the forehead or dark outline of a beard. But since the color is the dominant factor, there is a gold ring that surrounds Lincoln's head, as well as in the beard and hair. This is important because the color of gold suggests something holy, righteous and good.

In looking more into the images, gathering more suggestions on color and portrayal will help in understanding the rhetor's purpose.



Journal Entry #10 (04/04/14)

After meeting with Dr. Stoner and discussing my direction for the term paper, I have searched out more literature that covers the ideological approach to criticism. So far, I have just a basic knowledge of what ideology is for rhetoric through criticism textbooks. Sonja Foss, Stoner & Perkins, and Van Deberg are a few of these authors that discuss ideology and its importance to criticism. Ideology speaks to a larger scale of messaging, perhaps of an institutional model of thinking. This also speaks to hegemony and the power a dominant group has to rhetoric.

But having this as a model is not enough to base my own term paper on, but looking for more theory to the approach will help to build a stronger platform for the term paper. One author that was suggested to me was William R Brown. Through more research, I have found that Brown is a leader in ideological criticism. There is a series of four papers that Brown has written on ideological criticism, first with "Ideology As Communication Process" in 1978 and ending with "The Need and Rhetoric of Social Intervention" in 2010. I have only begun to scene through these articles, but hopefully this will help the theory on my term paper.


Michael Mann - Annotated Bibliography




Journal Entry #9 (04/01/14)

The research that I have done for the annotated bibliography has been extensive and has forced me to look at many different aspects that surround the piece I chose. Working with a piece that contains a lot of information, history, and visual stimulation, created a lot of work and I believe that now I will have a grounded approach to a critical analysis of the artifact.

Now my focus will move on to the description of "American History." Knowing that there will be a lot of text to take in, I will have to divide it up into sections and categories. First, I might break up the text by years. Looking at certain sections by time period and treating them as chapters can help to compartmentalize the piece and make it somewhat easier to describe. Next, the writing of the text can be broken down into different sections. Tone, authority, and reading level would be some aspects I would look at in order to describe. Finally, I would look at the visual communication. Artistic style, positioning of images on the page, and portrayal of characters are all important aspects to understanding the piece.

Hopefully, using these aspects will help to describe the text fully, without bias or any agenda towards interpretation or evaluation. I still have an issue with the fact that I do not know who the author or publishers are. So referring to them by name won't be possible and it leaves me without any clues to what kind of author they are and other pieces they have published. But this shouldn't be a problem as far as describing, analyzing, and interpreting the text.




Journal Entry #8 (03/29/14)

The last entry to the annotated bibliography was a piece I discovered in looking for more notions of "Master narrative." I came across a piece that was written by Michael Yellow Bird, a social studies professor at Humboldt State University. Yellow Bird is a Native American who grew up in North Dakota. The piece is entitled, "Cowboys and Indians: Toys of Genocide, Icons, and Colonialism." Yellow Bird Covers different aspects from his observations about life, concerning the historical perspective of one who is Native American and one who is a white American.

Yellow Bird draws upon instances of stereotypes found in TV and Film, particularly in Westerns. Indians are portrayed as savages, while the cowboys are heroes in white hats. The soundtracks of these show the cowboys in a romantic way with large, orchestral pieces in major keys. But it shows the Indians in a primal, rhythmic and dissonant tone that is contrary to the cowboys.

This was something that Yellow Bird saw as being a part of the master narrative. He states:

"Years ago, when I was a child, my play with toy cowboys and Indians would have ended much differently than my above story. Having been inculcated with the master narrative, or what Howard Adams calls “the colonizer’s falsified stories,” my cowboys would have heroically killed the dinosaurs and then the Indians. Like many children on the North Dakota reservation where I grew up, my young mind had been intellec- tually conscripted by the local Bureau of Indian Affairs school to battle the delusion that we Indians were equal in standing to whites. Like most reservation schools during this era, not only was our education inferior and biased, it was also well versed in the oppression, control, and intellectual and cultural domination of us little brown prisoners. We quickly discovered that what we believed was not important unless it was about the great deeds of George Washington (the town destroy- er) or Abraham Lincoln (the Dakota executioner) or other significant dead white guys. We learned that we did not know anything of value, nor did we have anything important to contribute from our culture un- less it supported the myths of white supremacy. In junior high school we continued to learn we were primitive, superstitious people who should be thankful that God was on the side of the white people who came to the “new world” to settle and help us have a better life."


Bird, M. Y. (2004). Cowboys and Indians: Toys of genocide, icons of colonialism. Wicazo Sa Review, 19(2), 33­48. Retrieved from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/wic/summary/v019/19.2bird.html






Journal Entry #7 (03/28/14)

I believe today I have found the search model style that I will apply to my term paper. I have decided to go with an Ideological approach to criticism.
I spent some time reading from Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice by Sonja Foss. In looking for a way to analyze my piece, I was looking for something that would answer some of the underlying messages of the piece. This includes my former entries that talk about "Master Narrative." I came across Chapter 8 in Foss' book that focused on Ideological Critism. There was one statement that I read that instantly applied to my thoughts on the text. "The primary goal of the ideological critic is to discover and make visible the dominant ideology or ideologies embedded in an artifact and the ideologies that are being muted" (Foss, 295-96). This is very important to the thought of the master narrative because it is the story or "Ideology" that has been told throughout the centuries and passed down from generation to generation. The artifact is a perfect example of it. But what is not being told is just as important and I feel an ideological approach will bring this out.

This chapter also brings out the term Hegemony, which is defined as, "The way in which a dominant group stays dominant." Hegemony is important to an ideological critic because of the power that ideology has. Foss writes, "When an ideology becomes hegemonic through a process of accord and consent, it accumulates 'The symbolic power to map or classify the world for others...' It invites, 'Us to understand the world in certain ways, but not in others.' A dominant ideology controls what participants see as natural or obvious by establishing the norm; normal discourse then maintains the ideology, and challenges to it seem abnormal. A hegemonic ideology provides a sense that things are the way they have to be as it asserts that its meanings are the real natural ones" (Foss, 295).

Foss, S. (1996). Ideological criticism. Rhetorical criticism: Exploration and practice, 2, 291-302.

In looking for more information on ideological criticism, I believe I will have a good idea on how to analyze this piece.




Journal Entry #6 (03/24/14)

Today I started to work more on my annotated bibliography. Being focused on the thought of how "Master Narrative" is prevalent throughout American history. I began to look for sources that supported that thought. I found one that gives me a base definition of what master narrative is and how it works with adolescents, which the text is targeting.

The source I found is entitled, "Telling Traumatic Events In Adolescents: A Study of Master Narrative Positioning," by Avril Thorne and Kate C. Mclean. The majority of this article focuses of self-telling of stories of traumatic events in life. This is what children will tell themselves and others in order to make sense of their experiences in life. One section in the beginning speaks on the "Master Narrative." The text gives an example of a person telling a story to a friend. The person says that his father always told him to, "Be stoic in the face of tragedy." This is a form of a master narrative, something that is culturally passed through generations. Defining master narrative, Thorne and Mclean say:

"The term master conveys an essential feature of such positions; they are propounded by people who are granted some modicum of authority. Master narratives are not simply regarded as appropriate ways to experience the world; they are enforced in large and small ways. Master narratives are used by cultural stakeholders as strategies for the "Management of sense-making" (Boje, 1991, p124). Consensus about the existence of a master narrative does not necessarily imply acceptance of the narrative. Tellers may resist the master narrative but in so doing they thereby acknowledge the existence of the narrative in justifying their alternative position (Schifrin, 1996). Master narratives thus function as cultural standards against which community members feel compelled to position their personal experience. The minimal criterion for identifying a master narrative is the perception that a particular emotional position is acceptable to, or resisted by, a valued audience" (Thorne & Mclean, 2003).

Thorne and Mclean continue in why should their case study be focused on late adolescents, which may be what "American History" be focused on. They state:

"For cognitive, social, and emotional reasons, we expect late adolescence to be a prime time for struggling with master narrative positioning. By late adolescence, the cognitive capacity for abstract thinking is well developed, so that alternative interpretations of events can begin to be grappled with. (e.g., Harter & Monsout, 1992; Inhelder & Piaget, 1958). Also in late adolescence, social networks begin to expand (Carstensen, 1995), and struggles with identity and intimacy become prominent developmental tasks (Erikson, 1968; McAdams, 1993). Sociostrucurally, the achievement of identity and intimacy can be viewed as pursuits of satisfying positions within a vast array of cultural values and practices" (Thorne, 2000).

With this time in an adolescence being a time where meaning and abstract thinking are taking place this is a time where values start to be shaped. American values of patriotism, freedom, and manifest destiny can be reinforced to a child and be carried throughout their lives. So it makes it important to what they are actually learning to make these values reinforced. "American History" may or may not feed the right information to a child and reflect the master narrative that is culturally acceptable. So it will be interesting to look agh this aspect further and see what others have written about this subject.

Thorne, A., & McLean, K. C. (2003). Telling traumatic events in adolescence: A study of master narrative positioning. Connecting culture and memory: The development of an autobiographical self, 169-185. Retreived from: http://books.google.com/booksid=iK3iLnZp8MEC&lpg=PA169&ots=JJcoMzfvyx&dq=Thorne%20%26%20Mclean&lr&pg=PA169#v=onepage&q=Thorne%20&%20Mclean&f=false




Journal Entry #5 (03/20/14)

Today I met took some focus to my text again for my term paper. I am analyzing "American History" graphic book. So far, my initial approach is to focus on visual communication and on the narrative that it tells. But after the last class meeting, I saw a fit to look at my piece from a cultural, and almost a societal perspective. A lot of the material that is covered in the text is historical and is brief in the details of each story. It reminded me of what I studied in a previous class in Sociology.

There is an aspect that is known as the "Master Narrative" that is woven throughout history. This is a theory that is mentioned by Ronald Tukaki, a former professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and noted historian when he wrote Different Mirror. It is also a topic in which Joe Fagen wrote in Racist America. Master Narrative can be simply defined as the main story that almost all people in society can convey. An example could be that almost all kids in elementary school can tell you about Christopher Columbus discovered America. They can tell you about Thanksgiving. They can tell you who Martin Luther King is. But not everyone can tell you the details that were left out or why they were left out.

So, with this in mind, I went and met with my former Sociology professor. I showed him the text that I will be and wanted to pick his brain on the matter. I explained that this was a rhetorical paper and not necessarily a sociological paper, but I wanted to introduce the role that society plays on the text. I plan on meeting with him at a later time to possibly interview him, as well as getting a better understanding of the role of "Master Narrative" can play, as well as how it is effective in the text.


Journal Entry #4 (03/15/14)

Today, I have begun some work toward building an annotated bibliography. I am looking for both texts that will help to build knowledge of theory, as well as looking for pieces that are similar to my artifact that could lend some prior knowledge to my analysis. I am also taking a television criticism class that I will also have to build an annotated bibliography for. This will be helpful because I could be able to use some of the same sources and apply them to the different texts I will have to analyze. Since I will be focusing on a television artifact for the other class and my text for our assignment is an illustrated text, anything relating to visual messages can be used for both.

I started my search with the textbook that is used for our Coms 100B class. The text is " Making sense of messages: A critical apprenticeship in criticism." by Stoner and Perkins. Chapter 17 is entitled "Visual Communication" and focuses on how visual images influence to shape the message. This is a portion of what I wrote as a draft for building an annotated bibliography. Hopefully, this will be a good start in building up the bibliography in order to have plenty of sources to accurately perform an analysis and back it up with theory and application.


Stoner, M., & Perkins, S. (2005). Making sense of messages: A critical apprenticeship in criticism. (pp. 296-319). Boston. Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt.

Making sense of Messages was written by Dr. Mark Stoner of CSU-Sacramento and Sally Perkins (School). The textbook is written for instruction for students entering into the realm of rhetorical criticism. It goes through the basic functions of describing, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating a rhetorical artifact through many different search models and theories. Chapter 17 in the text is entitled, “Visual communication.” It focuses on the role of visual images and how it relates to persuasion. When working with rhetorical artifacts, the classical models may only provide ways to view the written or verbal aspects. But in our modern world, the visual image is just as important to the message and is deliberately used in order to persuade the audience. These images alone are considered indeterminate, not carrying the full meaning of the message. But when paired with a verbal or written text, the image can enhance and reinforce the purpose of the message.

Stoner and Perkins introduce the readers to terms originally adapted by C.S. Pierce that help classifying different types of visual tools. Some of these terms include: Icon, index, and symbol. Icons are images that are similar to its meaning, like a crucifix illustrating Jesus on a cross. An index or indices does not share resemblances, but has meaning through association. This can be imagined with the example of glass and car parts on a road do not resemble an accident, but gives the clues that an accident has occurred. Finally, a symbol is connected to a referent or object only by agreement among users of the language. A “No U-Turn” sign might not say those words, but drivers know not to perform a U-Turn where the sign is located.

This is important to my text because it will be important to see the how the images are put together for the audience. It might now be possible to see some patterns of the rhetor and if the uses of symbols, indices, and icons are prevalent in the artifact. It could affect how the audience views the role of the ad agencies and the companies in power, control, and influence.




Journal Entry #3 (03/12/2014)

Today, my focus was on the reading of my text of "American History." As I stated before, this piece seems easy because it is a comic. But it carries many different types of messages, both written and visual. I read the first 8 pages, which took me through history from Columbus to the settling of the 13 colonies. In focusing on description of the text, there are quite a few things that I noticed with the first section. First, the overall style of the illustration has a childlike feature, similar to comics and Sunday Funnies. The colors are very vivid, really drawing a magical and adventure-like quality to the visual message. The text itself is written very simple. I believe that the audience was to children so it was written in a simple fashion in order for children to understand it. Almost in the way that each kid in elementary school can recite, "In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," the text follows a simple pattern that can be easily remembered. The piece was also constructed in so that each event in the history of America can be summed up in one page, jumping to the next event on the next turn. Therefore, I see the text as being brief and broad, not covering little details and people that made the event significant. This can be significant later in reading the full text because it may or may not be telling the full story. That could either benefit or ruin the value of America it was built on. Finally, there are hidden values that are written in the piece that we as readers carry into the piece. Some of these can be the value of freedom, religious freedom, manifest destiny, etc. How those values are portrayed in the text could be significant to its purpose.

In regards to my annotated bibliography in the last post, I have moved my due date back slightly in order to work on other assignments. But I will continue to research these pieces in order to gain better understanding on how to analyze the piece.




Journal Entry #2 (03/09/2014)

After reading the pieces more, I am definitely leaning towards the "American History" piece for my term paper. I feel it is more interesting to me in analyzing both visual and written messages, as well as diving into the "Master Narrative" that the piece carries and how it influences the audience.

In order to do get into how I will analyze the piece, I will now focus on what I will use for my annotated bibliography. I don't want to waste time this assignment by simply choosing random pieces so that I can complete the assignment. I want to use this assignment to build on theory I will apply. At this point, Narrative Paradigm seems to be the easy one, since it is a story and it will be easy to pick out the characters, plot, setting, etc. But I do know that I need to build around a claim that is more intriguing and compelling. So using something like a Burke or Perelman model will be more deductive and might lead to a bold claim. I believe that this piece can carry a lot of qualities to the audience, a lot of which is not beneficial. My gut reaction is that it is simply the rehearsal of the "Master Narrative" that we were all taught in elementary school. It leaves out many historical events that paints the founding of America in a bad light. It does this by simply not mentioning it or by mentioning it only slightly. One example of this is with Columbus and the genocide that was committed when he settled the West Indies or by seeing an image of slavery and having one guy say, "This is wrong!," with no one really listening. I'm sure the more that I dive into it, I will find more things like that. But I need to make sure as I read it to only describe at first.

So here are some of my choices just from scanning the resource readings that are available to us. I will go more into detail in the next few journal entries as I narrow down what I like.

Holland - Burke's Approach to Dramatistic Approach to Criticism & Burkeian method
Hauser - Empiricism: Description New Rhetoric
Morris - Pol. Cartoons as Political Rhetoric
Williams - Fantasy Themes analysis




Journal Entry #1 (3/04/2014)

For this journal entry, I will focus on the choices I have for my term paper. I have not yet chosen this topic yet, but I do have some ideas to which ones I like.

The first one that I like is the "American History" graphic book. I did not see an author credited to the piece. Right away, I was drawn to this one because it involves visual, as well as written messages. I think this can give a critic a lot to take in and a lot to interpret. The color and style says a lot to me and makes me think of other comics and animation, which could have a lot of meaning. The subject matter is also something that is important because it American history is something that is common and well-known. It carries the idea of a "Master Narrative" that should be known ans carried through time to multiple generations. From previous studies in Sociology, I know that this is something that is done, while other parts of history are left out. I feel that this book will be fun to critique, especially in knowing the context that could surround it, as well as the narrative aspect that a story can have.

Another text I feel can be an interesting one to study would be "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster. This is another story that could potentially carry a lot of hidden messages behind the writing style. This was a text that we discussed in class, in order to understand the Narrative Paradigm. So it is easy to see how to already apply that search model and come up with interesting points about the piece. I saw other literary ties to this piece, including the sort of prophetic weight it carried. I can compare it to Jules Vern, a French author who also made many prophecies in technology. Knowing how Verne was received by the audience and how Forster was received after could be important in understanding the effectiveness of the text.





Assignment #1



This is a critical essay I wrote last semester. It was a speech by Mario Savio in 1964 at UC Berkeley. It was in light of administrative ordinances that essentially censored the students on campus. This then created a fellowship of students that protested at Sproul Hall, the administrative building on campus. This was effective and caused change throughout the campus, and ultimately gave birth to the Free Speech Movement.

This text was rhetoric because it met the criteria for what makes a rhetorical message. It is defined as, "Messages that rely on verbal and nonverbal symbols that more or less intentionally influence social attitudes, values, beliefs, and actions." (Stoner & Perkins) Savio spoke to a crowd in order to persuade the students there to protest. His words were able to convince a sit-in of the administration and cause change to the ordinances on the Berkeley campus. His words intentionally created attitude change on many different levels and the actions affected the status quo.

My study showed that an unjust law cannot be tolerated. Savio spoke out against the administration censoring the 1st Amendment and called for the students to stand out against it. I brought to light Savio's emphatic tone, calling for the students to throw themselves "Upon the gears and upon the wheels," making it a duty to stand against injustice.