More Research topic ideas and rationale

My research project’s argument is how the Barbie doll has survived three decades of cultural change, but still remains a pop culture icon. Within in my paper I hope to explain the beginning history of Barbie and how she went from being a doll into part of the American culture for girls. Since the topic of Barbie is such a broad subject, I will limit my paper to focus only on Barbie as a pop culture icon. Given my research thus far I hope to get an understanding of how the barbie doll escaped from becoming a fad, like so many other toys through the years. In addition, I hope to better understand and provide answers to how Barbie is subconsciously a symbol to America. Also, through my research I hopefully will see how the marketing techniques of the Matell company have contributed to Barbie’s stability.

I have found some great sources that focus on Barbie as an icon in America. The book, Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll, by M.G Lord. Is on hold in another library, and I will be getting it shortly. However, reading about the book on-line, it seems to be very informative and will be helpful in my research. This book discusses the history of Matell and the marketing of Barbie. Another book that I will be obtaining from another library is Barbie The icon, The image and The ideal by: Kristin Noelle Weissman. Reading about the book on-line, this book will aide in my research greatly. The book shows parallels between the development of Barbie and the evolution of America’s culture. A good website about Barbie influencing Post-War American Culture, is an article by Dr. Forman-Brunell, from the University of Missouri. This article describes how Barbie became an example of what women should dress and represent.
I am just beginning my research, therefore I am still waiting on the books that I mentioned above to come in. Also, I hope that my paper topic is not too broad and that through more research I can probably narrow down my thesis and arguement even more.


7 comments November 15, 2006

The “Banking” Concept of Education

1. The politics of the classroom is an interesting topic that is rarely discussed. However, in Freire’s essay it brings up some powerful points about the classroom setting and the educators. I feel that in some classes, teachers might not allow for discussion, which is the exact opposite of a “problem-posing class”. In a close minded, math class, the teacher would only show one way of getting to a solution, and on the test and quizzes if a student arrives at the answer using a different method the student would be penalized. Furthermore, in an English class, they might only test on certain aspects of the book and small details that some people might find trivial. In a history class, a teacher might have their personal biasis about a history event to present the material in a close minded way. However, “problem-posing” classes would be very different. These teachers would be open minded, flexible, unbiased, and they would allow for class discussions and questions regarding what was taught. Lastly, the teachers would learn along with the students. They could learn the different students learning techniques and new and better ways to present materials to make it interesting yet challenging. Freire makes the distinction between a students role as a “spectator” by referring to his realtionship to objects on a desk. This demonstrates the thinking that some students are considered objects and the teacher would be the person in power.

2. The two terms drawn form the Marxist literature are praxis and alienation. Praxis, was connected to liberation and changing the world. While, alienation was a way to isolate something. In relationship to this essay, I would define praxis as expanding someone’s viewpoint and challenging one “to look outside the box”. Alienation would be more like control. These two terms are applied to the study of education because he considers an educator who is just “banking” information into a students brain as alienating the students viewpoints. On the other hand, Praxis would be an educator who enlightens the students.

3. If Freire is the teacher in this essay, he presents his information in a way which is very much like a “deposit”. He talks to the audience and his points are clear and backed up by facts and examples. This essay is not considered a dialogue rather, he is consciously presenting his view regarding a subject.

1 comment November 8, 2006

Rationale for research project

For my research project I will focus on Barbie Dolls. Throughout the essay I will discuss the history of Barbie. I will research when the doll was developed and how the Matell company, who owns Barbie and all related characters and elements have changed Barbie over time. Furthermore, in my essay I will talk about the images of Barbie dolls and how they have also changed with the time periods. I will also bring up some of the controversial topics that Barbie is associated with, such as how the doll has the “perfect” body size. I immediately thought of the topic of dolls when I heard of this project. However, to narrow down my topic I decided to zoom in on one specific type of doll, Barbie. I feel that this is an interesting topic. Barbie has been a very popular product throughout all of history and most girls can relate to having or associating with Barbie dolls. I think it is important and will be interesting to see how Barbie can have an influence on girls image about themselves.

Some resources that I will be using include:

journals from the UMW library website

5 comments November 1, 2006

Research topic

For my final paper, the first idea that came to my mind would be to research the development of Barbie dolls. I could trace the history of barbie and see how these products have changed over the years. However, if this topic is too specific I could broaden the topic and look at all types of dolls. I could see how different time periods brought about certain dolls and products related to them. Furthermore I could examine and analyze the advertising how the products and who they are trying to sell to have changed over the years.


Add a comment October 25, 2006

Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body: 2nd reading questions

1) This essay by Susan Bordo is indeed a long essay. It consists of forty five pages of detailed analysis of men in advertising. However, Bordo’s writing style is unique and fun making it an enjoyable read. I feel that by breaking the reading into sections, as Susan has done makes the essay easier to understand. Also, Bordo writes in the first person and includes many personal stories and in depth opinions and analysis. Almost immediately in the second paragraph she begins, “It was the spring of 1995, and I was sipping my first cup of morning coffee…” (168) This description and numerous others throughout the essay, allows the reader to place oneself in the situation and to form their own personal thoughts and opinions about the topic. Throughout the essay, Bordo seems to state facts, but then she switches up and uses real life examples and personal stories. This brings the essay to life and makes it seem real and far from being boring. Furthermore, her humorous personality is demonstrated in her side comments. Susan Bordo also uses a number of examples and outside sources such as Calvin Klein, GQ, and Men’s Fitness to illustrate her points. Although some people might consider this essay to be long and dragged out, I feel it is written eloquently and in a style which makes it enjoyable to read.

2) Rather than overwhelming the reader, the essay is broken down into subsections. The first subsection introduces the thesis and topic that the essay will cover. It provides the reader with some main and popular examples to take into consideration such as Calvin Klein and Gucci ads. The second subsection is titled, “Thanks, Calvin!” this section of the essay discusses how the homosexual community has influenced and has an important impact on how men are presented in advertising. Bordo, then goes into analysis about the male models and their body positions in the next section entitled “Rocks and Leaners”. She then jumps back and brings up homosexuality and the notions of gender in the section “Honey, What Do I Want to Wear?”. The final two sections are the longest and are the loudest and most powerful. “Male Decorativeness in Cultural Perspective” mentions the history and notions behind men in advertising and the social influence. It traces examples of advertising and builds up to modern day representations of masculinity. Finally, the reader is left with a question and strong statements and thoughts in “My World…and Welcome to It?” This section is deliberately made the last because it allows the reader to reflect on the world in which they live where people are outwardly judged both now males and females.

3) In this essay, Bordo discusses how and where one is positioned, as subject or object, and in the moment of vision. The section, “Rocks and Leaners”, Susan Bordo presents an argument that the gaze and position of men in advertising give off a message of masculinity. She describes the gaze, and how it can show dominance. The male models are the objects in the advertisement and meant to create a certain reaction depending upon there position. There is the “face up, face down, and stare down” (182). She also discusses how often in advertising, the lean is used in a seductive way. The angle of the camera is used as a powerful tool in advertising to capture certain moments and feel that the product is trying to convey. Whether it is a seductive lean with a face of stare, the male model is trying to get the viewers to remember and focus on him, therefore selling a product.

4) These are a few advertisments that goes along with Bordo’s thinking.

Both of these ads are for Abercrombie. The first one depicts what Bordo described as having “the lean” and glazed over stare away from the camera. The second ad is of the “face off” where the man is depicted as being full of masculinity and muscles with his hands near his crotch and glaring down the camera.

4 comments October 25, 2006

Deconstructing Ads

1) Both of these advertisements are for Kotex napkins. However, they each have a different approach in selling the product. The first ad attracts attention by offering a question. Also, there is a lot of writing and a major focus placed on reading the advertisement. The second advertisement attracts the viewers attention by using the beautiful celebrity Sybil Shepard. Furthermore, there are less words and more of an emphasis placed on sexuality and being beautiful. Knowing the time period each ad was from helps us to analyze the ways in which advertisements reflect a world view. For example, the first advertisement was created in the 1940’s. Knowing the historical context, and critically examining the advertisement, there can be some conclusions drawn. The ad from the 1940’s is more conservative and is vague about the purpose of the product they are selling. Also, because there were less ads around during this time period, people had more time to sit down and actually read the ad, therefore there are more words in this ad than the second. The second ad came out in the 1970’s. Therefore, more advertisements were around and the goal of the ad was to have the product stick in the mind of the consumer and get the point across quick. This is why there are less words in the 1970 ad versus the 1940’s Kotex ad. Also, the second ad from the 70’s there was a greater emphasis placed on sexiness, confidence and being beautiful. While in the 1940’s there was focus on women and proper etiquette.

2)beer.jpgrum.jpg These ads are both for alcohol. The first advertisement is from the 1940’s and it is selling Budweiser. The second ad is from the 1990’s and is selling Captain Morgan rum. The first ad is using patriotism to sell the beer. The Second World War was occurring at this time and therefore people were focused on the fighting, so the advertisement was attracting attention by relating to what was occurring in the world. There was also a lot of words in the advertisement, also common for ads of the time. The advertisement is selling a value system of being a united America. This technique in advertisements has dramatically changed over time. The second ad is lighthearted and fun. It is showing the consumer that when they drink Captain Morgan’s they will have a fun time. It is also depicting a fun and playful relationship that can arise when one buys and drinks this type of alcohol. This suggests that by closely reading and deconstructing both advertisements, as a consumer we are getting an idea of the lifestyle and value system behind the ads.

Add a comment October 11, 2006

Second Reading “Narcissism as Liberation”

1) Throughout the essay Susan Douglass writes using a humorous and clever tone. Rather than simply listing examples of women and their image in the media, she uses language such as ” Women of the 1980’s still felt like worthless losers when they looked in the mirror or horrors of horrors tried on a bathing suit.”( 119) As a part of her critique, she focuses on women who are in constant need of improving their appearance. The advertisements show flawless women that have perfect bodies and thus represent perfect lifestyles. Douglas says, “The ability to spend time and money on oneself was a sign of personal success.” (118) In the advertisements Susan discusses, she concentrates on young, confident, “dimple free” women. Thus the insecure women who see these advertisements are constantly comparing themselves to the “perfect” women. From the essay one could conclude that Susan Douglass considers it “womanly” to be comfortable and natural with ones not so perfect body.

2) Douglass is doing an analysis on advertising that include the analysis of literature, film, fashion, sports, art and literature. For example, she says, ” The cult of narcissism saw in the 1970’s exploded in the 1980″s nurtured by Reagan’s me-first-and-to hell with everyone else political and moral philosophies.” (120). Her writing is cynical and through her many examples of women in advertisements, she provides an example of how the media is tainting and disrupting many women’s views about themselves. Women are more concentrated on their appearance and superficial thoughts due to the medias focus on the women’s body. Douglass, wants people to deconstruct the media and advertisements and realize they are using an image to sell a product.

3 comments October 4, 2006

“Narcissism and Liberation”

dovepa2.jpg img-ad-campaign.jpg

These two advertisements are for Dove Products. It is a part of the Dove campaign for “real women”. Rather than have young super skinny models, this advertising method is concentrating on natural beauty and attracting to regular genuine women. These ads challenge the logic of the female body that Douglass discussed in her essay. According to Douglass, in the 1980’s the media tried to sell personal care products such as skin creams by using young, confident, and attractive women with the perfect bodies to sell their product. Furthermore, these ads do not have “hightech words” trying to sell the product as discussed in the article “Narcissism and Liberation”. However, the above pictures represent women of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors. Nonetheless, the viewer can see that although they might not be the “ideal” women they are all confident with their bodies. This advertisement is selling skin care products and trying to show that all women can use their products and when they do they too can be comfortable with their bodies. The images came from an article “That figures: women buy when ads get real” by Julian Lee from the website:
propel-water.jpg This advertisement is for propel water. The woman in the ad is professional race car driver Deborah Renshaw. In the essay by Douglass, it discusses how most women in advertisements wear revealing clothing and their bodies are the main focus of an advertisement. However this ad shows a professional athlete wearing a racing suit and the main focus of the advertisement is the propel water she is holding out in her hand. Furthermore, Douglass discusses how many ads tried to sell not only their products, but a lifestyle. The image is an alternative to what Douglass wrote about in her essay because the focus is on Deborah Renshaw as an athletic celebrity selling flavored water, not beauty products selling a lifestyle. This picture was copyrighted from an article by Kathy Thomason.

83766_200.jpg This advertisement is another alternative to the females that Douglass’s essay discusses. Bethany Hamilton is a teenage surfer that is selling a perfume line. The main target audience is teenage girls and young women, while in the essay the audience of the advertisements are upper class women. Also, women in Douglass’s essay are depicted as being perfect women with beautiful bodies. This ad shows Bethany Hamilton who survived a shark attack and has one arm. This representation also challenges the predominant logic of the female body in the media because she is not being glamorized or treated as a sex symbol. Rather, she is a pro surfer who overcame an obstacle and is being used to endorse a product. This image was copyrighted from www.

7 comments September 29, 2006

Second Reading “Ways of Seeing”

1) Throughout the essay Berger discusses the word “history”. He stress the consequence of the history being mystified, in particular relation to art. I think Berger is saying that history stands for the true meaning behind things in this case, art. He says, “History always constitutes the relation between a present and its past.” So, without history there would be no art. There would be no reason for people to create art. Art was created in different time periods in relation to what was occurring in the world at the time. According to Berger history is very important to seeing art. “When we see a landscape, we situate ourselves in it. If we saw the art of the past, we would situate ourselves in history.”(137) It is almost as if art captures the true moment . Based on the use in this essay, I would define “history” as a story and representation of what occurred in the world. Art, is therefore used to describe (rather than words) the capturing of a story.

2) Berger argues that the account of the Hals painting offered by the unnamed art historian is a case of “mystification”. Mystification meaning, “a process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident”(140) I would characterized Berger’s account of that same painting as a deeper thought about why the painting was done the way it was. Berger says Hals was a pauper seeing these people he was painting as an outsider trying to be objective. Berger considers this painting to be a drama. I would say he looks beyond the painting not just what is “really” there. This painting for example, one would have to know the life of Hals to fully understand why and how he painted the painting as he did. Berger says, “The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe,” Berger knows that each work of art has a reason for being done the way it was, and that there is a certain perspective and aspect that the artist wanted to capture. Berger stresses that seeing is not objective. Berger believes that what we see is formed by what one knows, the memories of the thing, and the historical context.

1 comment September 20, 2006

A second reading The Loss of the Creature

1) Throughout Percy’s essay, there are differences between the groups of tourists at the Grand Canyon, and the tourists in Mexico. The groups of tourists at the Grand Canyon all have ways of seeing and experiencing their trips to the Grand Canyon. However, they all tie together in the theme of recovery that Percy is trying to demonstrate throughout the essay. I could see how the examples progressed, each had a more unique way of going about the traditional viewing of the sight. First, to get off the beaten track. Next to watch other tourists and say to yourself “I do not want to be like them.” Then he progressed in the thinking of embracing the moment in a tragic or uncommon situation. Lastly, he moved on to not only embrace the moment, but to not follow the plan and go against what the leader is telling the tourists. Walker Percy then moved on to the tourists in Mexico. I feel that this was a deliberate progression to illustrate, people who went against what everyone else does in their travels and embraced a situation to make it unique. However, Percy wanted the reader to see that these tourists still have their flaws. The tourists questions the authenticity of their experience. I found the transition from tourists to students more difficult to understand. One possible thought that occurred was, Percy could have wanted the reader to question their own way of learning and experiencing because they too are students.

2) The major theme of this essay is loss. Percy constantly mentions people trying to regain something. This loss that Percy chronicles as a matter of concern is, a unique “fresh” way of taking in an experience. I feel he is trying to represent all of society’s interests, from the old man, family of tourists, to the students. I feel Walker Percy wants all people to not be forced to do something, rather he wants them to seek out an experience, enjoy it and thoroughly embrace it.

3) I feel Percy did not turn to first-person accounts of people that had been to the Grand Canyon or to statements by actual students or teachers because everyone has their own interpretation of what fully embracing a unique experience “it” really is. In order for the reader to have an open mind about what people can and can’t do, he did not limit the essay to actual first person accounts. Percy could have wanted the reader to ask themselves what they would have done in the different situations rather than examine a statement made by a specific person.

4 comments September 11, 2006






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