Sunday, 29 May 2011

Postmodernism exam questions

As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

What is meant by ‘postmodern media’?
Why are some media products described as ‘postmodern’?
Explain how certain kinds of media can be defined as postmodern.
Explain why the idea of ‘postmodern media’ might be considered controversial
“Postmodern media blur the boundary between reality and representation.” Discuss this idea with reference to media texts that you have studied.
Discuss why some people are not convinced by the idea of postmodern media.

So as you will notice, the questions may focus on what postmodernism is and how you apply ideas about it to examples, but also to why there is an argument about the term itself. I suspect if you have studied this topic, you will have been introduced to the debates around it and have the ability to apply definitions to examples, but I'll point you in the direction of some useful material here too.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to relate them to the questions set so far:

• What are the different versions of post-modernism (historical period, style, theoretical approach)? (first and fourth questions above)
• What are the arguments for and against understanding some forms of media as post-modern? (possibly all six questions!)
• How do post-modern media texts challenge traditional text-reader relations and the concept of representation? (first, second, third and fifth questions)
• In what ways do media audiences and industries operate differently in a post-modern world? (quite a hard one, maybe a bit of the third and fifth ones)

The kinds of thing you might use as case studies include:

How post-modern media relate to genre and narrative
computer / video games, virtual worlds, augmented reality and and new forms of representation,
post-modern cinema,
interactive media,
social media and social networking,
reality TV,
music video,
post-modern audience theories,
aspects of globalisation,
parody and pastiche in media texts or a range of other applications of post-modern media theory.

It is pretty open in terms of what you might have studied, so I would expect answers to draw upon very different case study material.

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

So for 1. you might compare and contrast examples from film and TV or from games and the web.

For 2. the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. There were a number of answers last year which were dominated by older examples, so beware of this if you are writing about games or the web, you can be pretty up to date, but the same is true of examples from TV, music video or cinema. This is not to stop you referring to historical examples, just encouraging an emphasis on recent ones. For the point about the future, you could say something about how as we all live more of our lives online, more and more texts take on elements of postmodernism.

For 3. You will hopefully have been introduced to some theory and your teachers will have tried to make it accessible- some key names are Baudrillard and Lyotard and their ideas are summarised quite neatly here

Media Magazine published an excellent article in MM22 about postmodernist texts a couple of years back by Richard Smith. I've uploaded the pdf so you can find it easily here

Have a read of it and then try a little exercise using the resources my colleague Nick Potamitis created here - the postmodernist advent calendar!

Click on each picture in turn and identify what the media text actually is; each one has at some time been described as 'postmodern'. Using Smith's article, work out what it is about the text that makes it postmodern. Then find three CONTEMPORARY examples of your own and do the same thing.

By the way, if you don't know what some of the 30 examples on the calendar are, I'll be posting the answers on slideshare!

Oh and here's a great example of postmodernism in action...

Later today: final exam advice- WeMedia and Democracy

1 comment:

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