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The Lessons

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    The two lessons I focus on in this study represent the point in the course where I introduce the notion of cultuurtekst explicitly to the students. Even though we have looked at discourses in texts at earlier points in the course, I had masked that as looking at ‘style’.

    These two particular lessons fitted into a series of lessons within the block on argumentation, which had as its starting point gender roles and representations. Prior to discussing the Men’s Health text, the class discussed a feminist polemical article, ‘De man als dinosaurus’, (‘The male as dinosaur’), by a female journalist, and a critical response to that. The students looked at this text particularly to see how the linguistic representation through grammar and style enhances the impression of the strong successful female and the weak disempowered male. I then introduced the text which forms the focus of this study, the text from Men’s Health (see appendix).

    The reason for discussing the Men’s Health text was that it provided a range of different and contrasting discourses with the previous texts. Whereas the first two texts, respectively the feminist text and a critical response to it, came from a ‘quality’ newspaper (de Volkskrant), the Men’s Health text is a different genre text from a popular lifestyle ‘glossy’ for men.

    The rationale for using a text from the popular media is that discourses tend to be more exaggerated and easily recognizable. Moreover, as Wallace citing Luke et. al. (2001: 113) states, these texts may seem innocuous, neutral, and requiring just a simple response, ‘cumulatively they document and shape social and cultural life’ (Wallace, (2003: 1). This particular Men’s Health text, I felt, would easily yield a discussion around discourses and values in texts. The topic crossed national boundaries and the article drew on various conflicting discourses familiar in the western world. Moreover, I thought there was a Dutch articulation in the text, as I will explain below.

    This page titled The Lessons is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gerdi Quist (Ubiquity Press) .

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