Introduction to Media Studies Prof. Stuart Ewen
MEDIA 180 Department of Film & Media Studies
Spring Semester 2013 Distributed May 15, 2013
FINAL EXAM STUDY QUESTIONS
On Wednesday, May 22nd, between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM, three (3) of the following questions will appear on the final examination. You will be expected to write essays in response to two (2) of them. As with the midterm, the exam will be open book and open notebook. While you are not permitted to bring in pre-written exam questions, you should feel free to develop outlines that included relevant quotes from readings, lectures, sections, etc. You will have two hours to complete the exam.
1) From the 19th century to the present, “ideal” body images of women have changed significantly. Fashions have often followed suit. Write an essay in which you describe some of these changes in detail and discuss what social and economic forces might have contributed to these changes. To what extent have these same forces shaped ideas about beauty in other fields of representation? Cite specific examples from All Consuming Images, as well as from lectures, discussions and your own observations, in developing this part of your essay.
Presently, as traditional boundaries of gender are being forcefully challenged, do you think these changes have significantly redefined female physical ideals or fashions? In answering this part of the question, you should include one or more images (advertisements, clippings from magazines, photographs) to support your argument about present-day female aesthetics.
2) During this course we discussed ways in which visual rhetoric influences the ways in which we compile information and make psychological connections between images. Munsterberg writes in the Photoplay: A Psychological Study that movies “act as our imagination acts” they have the mobility of our ideas which are not controlled by outer events but by the psychological laws for the association of ideas. Drawing from the Munsterberg selection, “City Lights: Immigrant Women and the Rise of the Movies,” “The Kleptomaniac, ” “Sherlock Jr.,” and “Corner in the Wheat,” discuss the ways the evolution of filmmaking and the use of visual metaphor represented a societal shift. Also, consider the ways in which early film influenced the structure of an emerging American consumer society.
3) In 1955, Henry Dreyfuss, an American industrial designer, created the human prototypes, “Joe” and “Josephine” and described “human engineering” as a design strategy to ensure a complete synthesis between humans and their surroundings by controlling all physical, emotional and psychic aspects of the designed environment. (p.196-198 ACI) We can see this strategy carried over into advertising, implicating the human body as something to be tamed, controlled and mechanically cared for. Attach a magazine advertisement (or a print-out of an online advertisement) that you feel demonstrates these strategies. What are the implications (psychological, marketing motivations, etc.)? In your essay, you must reference other examples, historical forces and ideologies from course readings, lectures and films as needed to support a thorough analysis of your advertisement.
4) In the “Stereoscope and the Stereograph” Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:
Form is henceforth divorced from matter. In fact, matter...is of no great use any longer except as the mould on which form is shaped. …Every conceivable object of Nature and Art will soon scale off its surface for us. Men [he predicted] will hunt all curious, beautiful grand objects, as they hunt the cattle in S. America, for their skins, and leave the carcasses as of little worth.
Making use of at least two specific examples from advertising, fashion or other current media forms, write an essay in which you discuss the extent to which Holmes’s prediction accurately described the ways that American consumer culture routinely uses the skins of the visible world and usurps them for commercial purposes. To what extent do you think that this process alienates people from their capacity to comprehend the physical world?
To what extent do think the skinning of the visible world offers people new opportunities to express important ideas. In answering this question, be sure to make specific reference to relevant readings and other pertinent course materials.
5) In the second half of the course, we have explored the ways that the idea of self-improvement, or the construction of self, has evolved from Benjamin Franklin in the late 18th century through the autobiographical testimony of Vera in the early 21st. Write an essay in which you compare and contrast the tale of before and after in relation to three of the following: (next page)
Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography;
Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick;
Buster Keaton, “Sherlock Junior”;
Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X;
The rise of modern advertising, and its emerging concept of self;
“The Story of Stuff.”
6) Edward Bernays argued that “the right to persuade” was a natural extension of The Bill of Rights, and that public relations techniques were consistent with the values of a democracy. Write a well-argued essay in which you either support or refute Bernays’ argument. Be sure to read Bernays’ “Engineering of Consent,” Ewen’s “Visiting Edward Bernays,” and the selections from Walter Lippmann selections before attempting to answer this question. Your essay should demonstrate a working familiarity with these texts, and with pertinent issues raised in the second half of the course.
7) How did movies both connect and separate immigrant women and their daughters in early 20th century New York City? What about these films encouraged interactivity? Discuss in detail three advances in filmmaking that later encouraged more passive viewing. Cite specific scenes and techniques seen in “The Kleptomaniac,” “Corner in Wheat,” and/or “Sherlock, Jr.” as well as referring to Munsterberg’s The Photoplay: A Psychological Study.