chapter  1
18 Pages

Introduction to culture and cultural cr iticism

This book is an introduction to some of the (potentially infinite) ways one might think about film and television texts in relation to the socio-cultural surroundings from which they arise and within which they are consumed. It introduces, in a chapter-by-chapter fashion, some of the more important and well-known schools of thought on the relationship(s) between media texts and culture. It takes for granted that film and television texts exist within ever-changing industrial contexts, and while those parameters are important, this is not a book primarily about the film industry nor the television industry per se. It is a book about various approaches to understanding the products of those industries, i.e. individual texts or cultural artifacts. Indeed, this might be thought of as the goal of media criticism: using broad theoretical models or frameworks to examine and explore the meanings of individual media texts. Neither is this book interested in championing a set of exemplary or canonical texts; rather it explores the various theoretical methods that might be used to study any and all media texts. (That said, individual film and television shows are discussed throughout this book as case studies meant to illuminate and/or complicate the theoretical approaches under consideration.) This book is also discerning in which methods it chooses to focus upon: as opposed to approaches that arise from mass communications research or traditional literary theory, the approaches addressed in this volume might best be described as those comprising contemporary cultural criticism from a liberal arts perspective. Most importantly this book is designed to introduce students to the various ideas, terms, and concepts that they will encounter in later classes and more advanced readings in the fields of film and television studies.