Parallelism in Performance

Step #1: Initial Task

Find a video (or audio) clip of an entertaining performance – be it stand-up comedy, situation comedy, a movie clip or some other type (check with me if you aren’t sure if it qualifies). Be sure that two traits characterize the clip: (1) it should display a TYPE 4 real-time parallelism and (2) it should be ‘good’ in your evaluation and as such of interest to you (as this typically motivates a better analysis). The parallelism can be verbal, visual or some combination thereof, but the reliance on a parallelism (or series of related parallelisms) is central to carrying out this exercise.
(Be sure to email me a link or hand in a copy in some form of the clip used in the exercise.)

Step #2: Analysis

In writing up your ‘performance analysis’, answer the following questions in order (without worrying about ‘essay coherence’ – just answer the question in order):

1. State your explicit goal in analyzing this particular segment?
(NOTE: For this exercise, your goals are given. The first, required goal, is to make explicit how the parallelism in the performance (culturally) functions. Your second related goal is to prove that you have found a parallelism.

2. Goal 1: Make explicit the visual signs, linguistic signs and cultural ideologies/assumptions that describe the parallelism in the ad and document how it actually functions in an analytically reconstructed real-time to create meaning(s) within it. Being specific here is very important: name the parts of the repeating indexical icon and then show how each instance of the repeating indexical icon creates a foregrounding(s) that creates a new (inferred) meaning in each instance of the parallel indexical icon.

3. Goal 2: Select one of the specific indexical icons from within the real-time parallelism that you have just analyzed. Argue in detail how the meaning(s) that it carries can only be accounted for in terms of the parallelism in which it is located. That is, show the importance that real-time opposition plays in determining the meaning of the particular indexical icon that you select.

NOTE: Similar to your work in Exercise #1, you should be applying our semiotic theory about contextual meaning here as well. That is to say, your work in parts 2 and 3 above, should be relying on a real-time application of the three-step contextualization process that we applied in Exercise #1 and have been discussing in class. That process is: (1) isolate out (first) foregrounded signs within the performance based on the prior indexical icon in real-time; (2) then (second) demonstrate that that very process of foregrounding makes relatively clear what the relevant oppositions are by referring to the next indexical icon in the parallel progression (3) finally (third) demonstrate how the relevant oppositions made clear in the second step are contextualized in/at each instance of the parallel indexical icons based on other signs therein that make the developing meanings clear.

4. Close your analysis here with a brief discussion of the kind(s) of audience(s) that are likely to appreciate this clip (and the parallelism that you analyzed out of it). Here you will of course be in some sense generalizing the kind(s) of audience(s) that you belong to. More specifically here though link your claims about the audiences that are likely to appreciate it to specific cultural signs within the parallelism that, as it were, make it work.

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