Oh the joys of final year exams. For the last two weeks I have been gorging Post-Modernist, Psychoanalytic and Feminist theory in the hope it may stick in my tiny brain only for it to be linguistically vomited under exam conditions. We had to answer two questions out of 9 relating to lectures on a range of critical theories, including aesthetics, semiotics, and representations of gender, class and race. With 4 hours sleep I managed to do so today and I am really happy with how it went.
My first question, and the one that I was most confident with, was on Post-Modernism. Using a Baudrillard quote as a prompt on how images are the pornography of information and communication. I started the essay with my favourite quote by Paul Getty: “Data is the oil of the 21st century”. I went on to divulge how we live in a world saturated by images to the point that that we don’t know what is real any more and the past is being blurred into the present through nolstalga. I explained the three orders of simulation, using Mad Men and Simon Patterson’s the Great Bear as examples and used augmented reality as an example of hyperreality; a world based on images (facebook), writing history through arche-writing (wikipedia), as social networks evolve from images to words like logocentrism (twitter). To conclude, I noted that although this creative freedom and technological fetishism can only be good for society, we must be wary of its panopticism. Anyone can see anything you are doing at any time, and can appropriate that knowledge for their own power.
Not to ignore my scholarly roots, once again I dipped my toe into the world of feminism for my second question. The quote now escapes me, but is was along the lines of how gender isn’t a just determined by sex, but the way women perceive their bodies is relative to the way they are represented and influenced by political and social structures. This wasn’t my strongest answer, but I knew enough theory and examples from my last three years of study to pull together a good answer. I started by explaining how gender is a constructed via Freud’s Oedipal theory and Lacan’s Gaze. I used these theories to explain how women’s bodies have been represented as the aesthetic by the canon and how women were excluded from this view. Even in modern film, the was women are represented as objects that ‘lack’ and can be possessed by men. The way women negotiate their own representation was done in two ways, first by re-appropriating the body via 70’s performance art and then examining femininity as a construction in the 80’s. I finished by saying women have gone back to the body, but appropriated with a new awareness of their sex and the gaze to create a new ‘raunch’ culture as seen in Katie Price.
Phew! Now to write 3 essays in a week…