Cultural Text Analysis
Cultural Text Analysis
Cultural texts can be described by Vanhoozer et al, as any work that is done by human beings that has a meaning because it is done intentionally and not as a fluke or by reflex. They include newspaper articles, books and other printed material, objects, images, spaces, films and music (Vanhoozer et al. , 2007, p. 248). There are a number of aspects of the English language (figures of speech) that are used in the writing of cultural texts to make the language use in the texts flowery, or even to explain some things in a deeper manner.
They are also used to show the emotional intensity or to explicitly show the writer’s sense impressions by comparing one thing with another that is common or well known to the reader. Some examples of these are the use of metonyms, metaphors and connotations. A metonym can be defined as the usage of a word in a text to denote one thing while in actual fact; the word refers to a related thing. It can also be described as a situation where a word is replaced with another one that is closely associated with it (Casnig, 2009).
An example of a metonym is the way people say plastic to mean credit cards or the way they say Washington, while what they actually mean to refer to is the United States Government. A metaphor on the other hand is defined as the comparing of two things without using words ‘like’ or ‘as’. They are a good way to put an image into the mind of the reader in regards to the message that they are trying to convey. Improper use however could mean that the message that the writer is trying to convey will not be understood properly (Wheeler English, 2010).
An example when it comes to its use is when used in a sentence, when somebody says, “…her hair is snow white. ” Here, the color of hair is being compared to the color of the snow, but there is no use of the words ‘like’ or ‘as’, and thus this makes the expression a metaphor. When it comes to connotations, these are ideas that are implied or suggested. They refer to the connections or associations that are connected to certain words or even the emotional suggestions that are related to the word in question (Word Reference. com, 2010).
An example of this could be the way the word snake if used in reference to a person could be used to mean that the person is evil or dangerous. It could also mean that the person is crafty and not open and honest in their dealings with people. The cultural texts that I am going to use to show how metonyms, metaphors and connotations have been used are: a film on Eyes on the Prize Interviews. The specific interview in this case is the Rosa Parks interview that was done on November 14, 1985, and was produced by Blackside Inc.
The interview was gathered as part of Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). The second cultural text will be an article titled “Walking while Muslim” which is an article that was written in the year 2005 by Margaret Chon and Donna E. Arzt. Finally, I am also going to look at Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends which is a book written by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Charles A. Anderson and Michael J. Sleasman.
In the film on an interview with Rosa Parks, examples of metonyms that have been used are: when she is asked by the interviewer about how segregated their area was, she says, “In 1954, after the Supreme Court decision had been handed down to do away with uh, segregation in the public schools…”. Here, Supreme Court is a metonym for judges or juries, because in actual fact, they are the ones that make rulings in court. Another example is when Rosa Parks refers to the bus as being ‘packed’, which is a metonym for full, or filled to capacity.
When it comes to connotations, an example of one is when the interviewer asks her, “How did you feel about sparking the boycott…? ” The word spark here is used to mean that she was the one who agitated or stirred the people into action. Another connotation is when she refers to people as blacks and whites in her interview. This is a connotation of the African Americans and the American people (Washington University Film and Media Archive, 1985). In the article, “Walking while Muslim”, there are also some figures of speech that have been used in its content.
Examples here are the use of connotations where it is said that the United Nations standing committee is toothless. What this means is that they have no power in terms of the functions that they are allowed to carry out. It is also shown when it is said that the international human rights enforcement systems are expected to have a better track record than the UN in the protection of human rights. The phrase track record is used here to refer to the record of their actual performance and accomplishments.
This is because in the literal sense, track record means a documentation of speeds that an athlete runs or has been running over a period of time. Metaphors have also been used where the International Human Rights law is being likened to a guardian of religion. Here, the law and guardian have been compared without the use of ‘as’ or ‘like’. There is also an example of a connotation where they say that Jihad is one of the Islamic beliefs that are perceived as religious zealotry directed at non-Muslims. The word Jihad here is used as a connotation of the violent aggression of Muslims towards non-Muslims or secular people (Chon, M.
and Arzt, D. , 2005). In the book, Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends, figures of speech have also been used in this context. Examples of some of these are: one of the characters in the book, Kevin Warwick—a leading researcher and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, says he is a cyborg. This is a metaphor because he is comparing himself to a being that is part human, part machine. In the book also, there is also a section where biotechnology is likened to a savior, and also where we are told that we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
In this case, we are being directly compared to sacrifices (animals that are usually offered to God in order to appease him or thank him for something). There is also the use of metonyms where it says that “whatever label we choose to wear,” referring to the title that we choose to have because in actual fact, we cannot wear a label. Another metonym that I have discovered is when the author says that as Christians, they may fail to see the way the world looks at those who believe that the present is all that there is. Here, the ‘world’ does not refer to the physical globe, but to the people who are non-believers.
It is a word that is commonly substituted for those who are not adherents of Christianity (Vanhoozer, K. et al, 2007). References Casnig, J. (2009). Metonymy. [Online]. Available at: http://knowgramming. com/metonymy. htm Accessed on: May 28 2010 Chon, M. and Arzt, D. (2005). Walking while Muslim. [Online]. Available at: http://www. law. syr. edu/Pdfs/0WWM_ChonArzt. pdf Accessed on: May 28 2010. Meginsson, D. (2007). Connotations and Denotations. [Online]. Available at: http://www. writingcentre. uottawa. ca/hypergrammar/conndeno. html Accessed on: May 28 2010
Vanhoozer, K. , Anderson, C. , and Sleasman, M. (2007). Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends. Michigan: Baker Publishing Group. Washington University Film and Media Archive. (1985). Interview with Rosa Parks. [Online]. Available at: http://digital. wustl. edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx? c=eop;cc=eop;rgn=main;view=text;idno=par0015. 0895. 080 Accessed on: May 28 2010. Word Reference. Com. (2010). Connotation. [Online]. Available at: http://www. wordreference. com/definition/connotation Accessed on: May 28 2010.