Denotative and Conative meaning

Select a concrete example of communication that will serve as your object of investigation. It can be an example of any form of communication, such as a painting, a photograph, a letter, a speech, a piece of music, an advertisement, a phone conversation, a scene from a film or television program, a website, etc. Since you will be doing a very detailed analysis it’s important you select an example that is manageable. For example, if you are considering a film you should select a particular scene or sequence of shots to consider.
A) In essay form (1 to 2 pages double-spaced), provide a general description of your example of
communication and situate it in relation to the historical period and sociocultural location in
which it takes place. In short: What is it? When and where does it take place? Who are the
participants? Through what mechanism/medium does it occur?
B) In a two-column format, provide a close reading of the object or event (no more than 4 pages
• In column one, provide a detailed comprehensive denotative description that breaks your
example down into basic meaningful elements. You should provide a fine-grained literal
account that avoids implied meanings or interpretations as much as possible. (Catalog
specifically what was said; visual elements and qualities—color, texture, motion, etc.;
characteristics of sound or other elements of perception).
• In column two provide connotative readings of the elements described in your denotative
description. What meanings and association do the denotative meanings convey or imply.
This requires more interpretation, but still focuses on the immediate context and
commonly available associations of each element. While analytic, the connotative
description aims to articulate broadly shared meanings of the events.


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