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Why Is It Important To Critically Analyse The Culturally And Historically Specific Ways In Which Meaning Is Discursively Produced?

1625 words - 7 pages

Everyone has an understanding of themselves and their world due to the historical, cultural and social formation. These three fields are what bring together the concepts of genre, intertextuality and discourse. Genre is "recognised paradigmatic sets into... a given medium (film, television and books) [which] is classified" (O'Sullivan et al 1994:127). Genre can be blurred due to "meaning [that] cannot be confined to single words, sentences or particular texts but is the outcome of relationships between texts, that is, intertextuality" (Poster 1989:18). The final concept which will be explored is discourse which was developed by Michel Foucault. The term refers to the "recurring statements that define a particular cultural object" (Cavallaro 2001:90). These three concepts can be explored through the text Gods and Monsters and be used to find how they work together to "generate meaning". Two main discourses which "generate meaning" are, mortality and masculinity, these will be explored in conjunction with the concepts of genre and intertextuality.Gods and Monsters is based on a book by Christopher Bram, Father of Frankenstein. The movie is about the director James Whale who made films such as; Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). The film focuses on the final weeks of Whale's life (played by Ian McKellen). Whale is seen as a openly homosexual man who is suffering from many health problems and also suffering from stroke. Through out the film you see that Whale is mentally unstable, he continually has flashbacks and hallucinations. Whale is looking for someone who will become his "black angel" (Bronski 1999). This happens to be Clayton Boone (Brenden Fraser) "a working-class ex-marine" (Bronski 1999:1) who is young and who is also homophobic. Whale provokes him through talks on his sexuality, yet he finds that he could not create his "monster". Therefore Whale takes responsibility for his own death and commits suicide by drowning himself in his pool. This film is very complex and has used many ways to bring the text together and to "generate meaning".Gods and Monsters can be seen as a drama and a war film, a genre which has been placed upon it. The film is given this category due to our understanding of what brings together a drama and a war film. A drama consists of; realism, the development of a character, love or romance, death and a happy ending. These characteristic have been developed through history which has brought us to the current understanding of a drama. Due to the categorising of the film it brings the viewer to understand the text and has certain expectations of what will happen within the medium. Through the genre of drama the viewer can connect it to many discourses such as masculinity, sexuality, and mortality. There are also some connections to the genre of war movies. The flashbacks that Whale are set in World War I. These scenes are of Whale in the trenches, the gas bombs, and the shells throughout the night....

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