Why is it important to critically analyse the culturally and historically specific ways in which meaning is discursively produced?

Essay by shuuuubakCollege, UndergraduateB, June 2005

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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...