The techniques of textual analysis
When you analyse any media text, ask yourself these questions:
Form (media language, genre, narrative)
- What messages and meanings is the text giving out?
- What are the dominant images and iconography and what is their relevance to the major themes of the text?
- To which genre does the text belong?
- What are the major generic conventions within the text?
- To what extent are the audience’s generic expectations of the text fulfilled or cheated?
- Does the text conform to the characteristics of the genre, or does it treat them playfully or ironically?
- Does the text feature a star, a director, a writer etc. who is strongly associated with the genre?
- How is the narrative organised and structured?
- What techniques of identification and alienation are employed?
- What are the major themes of the narrative? What values/ideologies does it embody?
- What is the target audience? (age, gender, class)
- What assumptions about the audience’s characteristics are implicit within the text?
- In what conditions is the audience likely to receive the text?
- What do you know or can you assume about the likely size of the audience?
- How do you, as an audience member, read and evaluate the text? To what extent is your reading and evaluation influenced by your age, gender, background etc?
- Which institution made the text?
- In what ways has the text been influenced or shaped by the institution which produced it?
- Is the institution a public service or commercial institution? What difference does this make to the text?
- Who owns and controls the institution concerned and does this matter?
- Who is being represented? Which groups of people?
- In what way? Positive, negative?
- Why is the subject being represented in this way?
- Is the representation fair and accurate?
- What opportunities exist for self-representation by the subject?
Textual analysis #1
Here's your first piece of analysis using our website. The clip below is a trailer for an independent feature, made in Bristol, by Bristol-based media professionals, many of them up-and-coming. What do you think of it? Try picking one question from one of the categories above, to start off with. What can you say about the trailer in response to it?
Textual analysis 2
This piece was watched by all, and enjoyed by almost all, at the recent Encounters festival. Whatever your opinion of the story, this piece displays breathtaking technical skill and command of some of the new animation technologies, together with a powerful and artfully realised aesthetic.