Ok, folks, your final written case studies are due the last day of class (IN CLASS). Go here for more information about MLA citations. I recommend that you also make an appointment with a graduate tutor or Terrell (cultural studies major) at the Writing Center (you must make an appt; they are very busy these last two weeks).

Next week, the following students are also presenting their oral case studies (on any recent concept we’ve discussed): Olivia Jackson, Evelyn Torres, Sean Carter, and Cindy Ruiz.

I suggest that you all use the remaining two weeks to begin working on your final take-home exam and the revision of your case studies, so you are not overwhelmed at the end. If you have any questions, please email me.

I have included the final take-home exam below for those of you who weren’t in class or who misplace it:

Introduction to Cultural Studies: FINAL EXAM

Short Answer Questions:

Answer any six of the following eight sets of question below in approximately one paragraph each. All answers should be in your own words. Each answer counts for 5 points (for a total of 30 points).

  1. What is theory, and why is it important to our understanding of culture?
  2. In your own words, explain your understanding of cultural “signs.” Using your own example, explain how a cultural sign can have both implicit and explicit meanings.
  3. Explain how democracy is an example of an ideology (do NOT tell me what democracy is, but rather HOW it is an example of an ideology). Be sure to consider the main elements inherent within the concept, ideology.
  4. What is interpellation, and how does it work? Provide your own example of interpellation as you discuss the concept.
  5. When presented with an historical “fact,” what questions are necessary to ask? Why?
  6. In class we discussed how meaning is never fixed. Using your own example, explain how a cultural artifact can have multiple meanings and/or change in meaning over time (even though the actual artifact itself never changes)?
  7. What is hegemony, and how does ideology play a role in creating hegemonic societies?
  8. How do individuals within the panopticon become agents of their own oppression? Provide an example.

Long Answer Questions:

In no less than one full (double-spaced) page, and in your own words, answer two out of the following four sets of questions. Each answer counts for 15 points (for a total of 30).

  1. What does it mean to “read” a cultural artifact? What things would you consider when doing a cultural “reading”?
  2. Explain your understanding of the following sentence: “Gender is a social construction.”
  3. Who or what produces meaning? How and why? Be sure to use an example of your own when discussing how meaning is produced.
  4. Explain how certain commodities, such as a pair of shoes or boxer shorts, seem to acquire human qualities (such as sexy, romantic, humorous, cool, etc.)?

Reading of a Cultural Artifact:

Consider the following two cultural artifacts. Choose one and conduct a critical cultural reading. In no less than two (double spaced) typed pages, discuss your understanding of your chosen image as it relates to any of the relevant concepts covered within this class (such as ideology, race, hegemony, commodities, fetishism, identity, power, signs, meaning, etc.). Be sure that you do not simply write something like “This is an example of ideology,” but thoroughly, thoughtfully, critically, and logically explain HOW and WHY your image relates to the concept/s you discuss.

Regardless of which image you choose to do a cultural reading of, consider some of the following questions below, which are offered as a guide to help you get started. You certainly do not need to try to answer all or even most of the questions, but be sure that you do consider a broad number of possible concepts when discussing your image.

* There is no right or wrong way of reading either image; rather, I will be assessing your ability to apply some of the concepts you have learned in this class to a critical interpretation of a cultural artifact.

* Your answer will count for 40 points.

  1. What do you think the image means? How do you interpret this meaning? In other words, what signs suggest meaning and how?

  2. What are both the implicit and explicit meanings within the image? And how might meaning change in differing circumstances (such as time, place, who is viewing it, who produced it, etcj.)?

  3. What do you think is the purpose or function of the image? Explain.

  4. If a commodity is present, what is the commodity? How is it being sold? What ideologies are inherent within the image to help sell the product?

  5. What, if any, symbols of power or hegemony are present within the image? Why and how?

  6. How might context change the meaning? In other words, would the image mean something in one context and something totally different in another? How so? Explain.

  7. In what ways might the image speak to race, class, ethnicity, or social status? What does it say about any of the above? How?

  8. What assumptions are you making in your reading? And how might those assumptions change the actual meaning of the image?

  9. Who carries more authority over meaning in either of the following images? The author/artist? The viewer? How so?

  10. What, if any, historical context might be important to consider when attempting to “read” the image? Why?

Cultural Artifact # 1:


Cultural Artifact # 2: