Whenever we encounter a text, some form of reality or experience of the world has been represented to us in some way. These representations help to shape our perceptions of the world and society and so play a key role in the overall construction of meaning
Representation: Consider re-present or to show again. Aspects of reality that are shown again/constructed again in texts. Individuals, groups, ideas, issues can be represented through a text. These representations carry the values and attitudes of the society at the time.
Why do we need to study representations?
We need to examine representations in order to understand the deeper social and cultural values associated with the issue/event/people or idea being represented. E.g to understand societal attitudes towards climate change, we can examine the way in which this issue is represented in popular texts.
Representations of people, events, places and situations as well as concepts and ideas are not necessarily accurate reflections of reality. They are constructions shaped by many factors such as the attitudes of the author as well as the reader/viewer.
Representation of a hero:
For each film poster below, consider the following questions:
1. How is the hero represented in the image?
2. What visual conventions have been used to construct this representation?
3. How have these visual conventions constructed such a representation (effect of the conventions)
4. How do the representations reflect the values and attitudes of society at the time of production?
'Superman' film poster 1978
Superman 'Man of Steel' 2013
Superman 'Man of Steel' 2013
Representation of gender: The Bond Girl in James Bond films
Consider the same questions for the following representations of women in various James Bond films:
"Michelle Yeoh in 'Tomorrow Never Dies', 1997. A spy for the Chinese People's External Security Force, Yeoh's Colonel Wai Lin is a master of martial arts"
"2012- Bérénice Marlohe plays Sévérine in 'Skyfall' is the ultimate femme fatale as a confidante to the film's villain Raoul Silva"
"Grace Jones plays May Day in 'A View to Kill' 1985, a henchwoman with superhuman strength"
"2015, 'Spectre' - Lea Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann, a psychologist working at a medical clinic"
Representations in photojournalism: Police brutality,refugee crisis, terrorism and activism.
Consider the way various issues, people or events have been represented in each of the following images. In your response, ensure you consider the visual conventions that have influenced your interpretation.
"Lesha Evans stands her ground at a rally against police violence against black men, outside the Baton Rouge police department in Louisiana, USA." July 9th 2016 Photo by Jonathan Bachman (World Press Photo)
"November 25, 2015 - Lamon Reccord stares down a police sergeant during a march against police racial violence. Protests had taken place almost daily after the release of a police car dash cam video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot by a Chicago police officer" - Photo by John J Kim (World Press Photo)
"January 11, 2015 - People demonstrate their solidarity with victims of terrorist attacks, and voice support for freedom of speech, at the end of a rally at the Place de la Nation in Paris." Photo by Corentin Fohlen ( World Press Photo)
"Maha (5) is comforted by her mother in Debaga refugee camp in North Eastern Iraq. A week earlier, Maha and her family had fled the town of Hawija, 160 kilometers south of Mosul. Hawija had been under the control of the Islamic State group (IS) since August 2014" Photo by Magnus Wennman (World Press Photo)
Marie Claire magazine: 'The Evolution of the Bond Girl'
World Press Photo
'What Does it Mean'- An Introduction to text, context and values by Emma Robinson and Sophie Robinson