Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Speaking American: Comparing Supreme Court and Hollywood racial interpretation in the early twenty -first century
by Hawkins, Paul Henry, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2010, 160; 3470454
Abstract (Summary)

Apprehending that race is social, not biological, this study examines U.S. racial formation in the early twenty-first century. In particular, Hollywood and Supreme Court texts are analyzed as media for gathering, shaping and transmitting racial ideas. Representing Hollywood, the 2004 film Crash is analyzed. Representing the Supreme Court, the study examines Grutter v. Bollinger and Parents Involved v. Seattle Schools. To more fully describe how these texts reflect and then reenter a stream of social discourse, two theories are successively employed. First, Roland Barthes' theory of mythology is used to deconstruct layers of meaning in the texts. Second, Michel Foucault's theory of power is used to explain how the meaning in the text attempts to shape ideas about race in the post-civil rights era. The combination of these theories not only helps readers better understand how texts act as instruments of racial formation, it extends the field of semiological inquiry in which these theories were grounded. By applying Barthes and Foucault, this study demonstrates that both Hollywood and the Supreme Court, despite a veneer of twenty-first century racial progress, actually produce texts that seek to maintain centuries of disparate power between racial collectives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Pastores-Palffy, Elizabeth A.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 71/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Cultural anthropology, American history, Law, Film studies
Keywords: Barthes, Roland, Foucault, Michel, Hollywood, Racial interpretation, Racism, Supreme Court, Twenty-first century
Publication Number: 3470454
ISBN: 978-1-124-12316-5
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