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Critical Media Analysis on 4 movie trailers.
The 4 movie trailers are: Stagecoach trailer (1939), The Searchers (1956) clip, Dances With Wolves trailer (1990). The Revenant clip (2015)

Texts are complex and no single step-by-step method exists for interpreting and uncovering meaning. Throughout the course, we will have opportunities to hone our skills and analyze a variety of texts. The goal is to develop a critical lens for analyzing texts.

Over the course of the semester, each of you will complete three media analyses. These analyses will be texts screened in-class and/or assigned on Blackboard. For each analysis, submit a short (2 page, single spaced) written analysis on Blackboard.

The below guidelines provide many questions and steps you should consider as you analyze media. You don’t have to address every question or step but should address meanings, context, and make a claim in your analyses.

Discovering Meanings
Study the text, search carefully, and document what you find:
Watch, re-watch, re-watch (or re-read, re-read, and re-read, or listen, etc.)
Take notes each time on everything you see
Everything matters! – words, images, edits/camera angles, sounds, voices, music, written words
Get curious
What do you notice? What stands out?
What isn’t there?
Can you pick up on patterns?
Ask “why”? and “what does that do?”
What can you say about this text that it does not say already?
What do you see in the text that might not be so obvious to someone else?
Think about meanings that are structural. Does the form of the text have a certain meaning?
Think about how your social identity influences your interpretation. How might people from other social locations understand the text?

Questions to help deepen your analysis
What overall meanings are created in this text?
What does the text, experience, or object mean to different people?
Beyond the presumed intended purpose what other meanings does the text tap into to convey its particular meaning?
What widely shared meanings does the text reinforce or contribute to?
What meanings or influences are at work beyond the obvious ones?
What are some suggested meanings in the text?
To whom does it speak? To whom does it not speak?
Whose interests does the text serve?
What are the consequences for individuals and/or the community if they embrace this text?
Is there a part of the text that stands out, and if so, why?
What do others see in this text that I do not, and how can they see it this way?
What are the different components of the text? How do they relate to the whole text?

Situating the Text
Explore what is going on around the text. Think about context and what else is going on.
What historical events or influences might have influenced the text’s production or meanings?
Are there other texts that are referenced or need to be understood to garner different meanings?
What about the text makes it similar to or different from other texts?
What do you know about the production of the text?
Who benefits from the text’s distribution and/or proliferation?

Developing a Claim
How can I make my case for what I see to someone who does not understand the text the way I do?
Based on your observations and notes, what are some claims you could make and support?
What evidence from the text supports your claims? What specific elements of the text – certain words, images, patterns, etc. – support your claims?
Questions to help you develop an argument
What can I say about the text that is not “obvious”? Which claims are more novel?
Which claims are most plausible?
What claims would you have trouble supporting?
Does your claim speak to different audience and communities?
Can you justify why your claim is important (answering “so what?”) by positioning the claim in a larger topic/concern?

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