Author Archives: Mafalda Stasi

M84MC – Visual Structures

This lecture performs a visual analysis of the 2012 advertising campaign for the Lady Gaga Fame perfume. The lecture draws on a variety of semiotics concepts to explore the ad’s connotations and denotations, its iconography, symbolic and inter-textual codes; it finally discusses the advantages and the limitations of a classic structuralist perspective.

Lecture slides: visual structures


  • Barthes, R. (1977) “The Rhetoric of the Image” in Image Music Text. London: Fontana. pp.32-51.
  • Lister, M. and Wells, L. (2001) “Seeing beyond belief: Cultural Studies as an approach to analysing the visual.” in Van Leeuwen, T. and Wells, L. eds. Handbook of Visual Analysis. London: Sage. pp.61-91.
  • Ott, B. and Mack, L. (2010) “Rhetorical Analysis” in Critical Media Studies. Wiley-Blackwell.  pp. 99-122.
  • Prieto-arranz, J. (2012) “The Semiotics of Performance and Success in Madonna.” The Journal of Popular Culture 45 (1): 173-196.
  • Van Leeuwen, T. (2001) “Semiotics and iconography.”  in Van Leeuwen, T. and Wells, L. eds. Handbook of Visual Analysis. London: Sage. pp.92-118.
  • Ways of Seeing (BBC Documentary on visual analysis)

Activity for next week:

Watch these two videos. Perform a compared visual semiotic analysis. These are some of the questions you may want to consider: What connotations can you identify? Which symbolic meanings? Which iconic signs? How does the advert use these elements to convey its message? Write down a summary of your findings and post it here as a comment to this entry.

Other Resources

This blog contains a variety of materials which are crucial to your success: however, you should also consider a variety of supplementary resources the University puts at your disposal.

The Library

While it’s tempting to just ‘google for stuff,’ this approach is not going to provide you with the necessary academic quality for your work. Even searching online intelligently through Google Scholar (–which filters the subset of the Web tagged as academic materials–is not enough to necessarily find appropriate quality sources for your work. You probably already know, at this point in your studies, that books and academic articles contain rigorously researched scholarship, validated for quality and relevance by the academic community; as opposed to random Internet information whose value is difficult to assess and which often does not provide appropriate depth or even accuracy. You should also by now master the necessary research and critical skills; to this end, the Library is one of the most precious resources the University puts at your disposal, and it is in your best interest to use it. The Library catalogue is available online ( The library also puts at your disposal a variety of resources to help your research skills, through this dedicated page within the student portal

The Centre for Academic Writing (CAW)

If you need help with your essays you can come see me by booking an appointment via e-mail, or during my weekly office hours. You can also visit the Centre for Academic Writing (CAW): they offer individual tutorials on essay writing skills. Book early with them, there is always a queque at the end of term!

CASP-Coventry Academic Skills Programme 

The CASP program offers support for a wide range of academic skills centred on the Library, including using references, writing your dissertation, finding e-books and e-journals, writing and critical thinking. You have to book into a workshop through the link provided.

The Harvard Reference System At University level, you are expected to write according to academic standards. This means you should properly format your bibliographical references. Failure to do so will impact your marks. Proper referencing is not simply an arbitrary set of cosmetic conventions: it’s a system designed to make your references clear in a standard way, and to show you performed your work according to proper professional standards. Think of it as spelling: yes, it may be just rules you memorise–but if you don’t spell correctly your work looks sloppy and you give the impression of not caring or knowing, which mars your work and negatively influences your results. Would you go to a work interview with your clothes dirty or in disarray? 

Moodle I generally use Moodle as a depository to hand coursework in, and to provide you feedback on it. You should always read your feedback carefully, and use it in your future work. We provide extensive and constructive advice, which is key to your success.

Academic Dishonesty

Want to make extra sure everything’s right? Take the Good Academic Practice Quiz on Moodle.

Academic dishonesty covers any attempt by a student to gain unfair advantage (e.g. extra marks) for her/himself, or for another student, by unauthorised means. Examples of such dishonesty include collusion falsification, deceit, plagiarism and cheating in examinations.

Collusion includes the conscious collaboration, without official approval, between two or more students, or between a student(s) and another person, in the preparation and production of work which is then submitted as individual work. In cases where one (or more) student has copied from another, both (all) students involved may be penalised. The boundary between legitimate co-operation and unacceptable collusion varies according to the type of work involved. Staff setting the assessment exercise will issue clear guidance on how much co-operation is acceptable.

Falsification includes the presentation of fictitious or deliberately distorted data in, for example, laboratory work, surveys or projects. This also includes citing references that do not exist.

Deceit includes misrepresentation or non-disclosure of relevant information, including the failure to disclose any cases of work being submitted for assessment which has been or will be used for other academic purposes.

Plagiarism is the act of using other people’s words, images etc. as if they were your own. In order to make clear to readers the distinction between your words, images etc. and the work of others, it is essential that you reference your work accurately, thereby avoiding a charge of plagiarism. It is always obvious when a student has copied words from a text without referencing, as there is a change of writing style each time. If you do not reference your work correctly, it will come across as if you had ‘stolen’ words or ideas from other sources.

Re-presentation is the submission of work presented previously or simultaneously for summative assessment at this Institution.

Cheating is defined as any attempt to gain an unfair advantage in an assessment (including examinations), or assisting another student to do so. It includes: taking unauthorised materials into examinations, copying from other candidates, collusion, impersonation, plagiarism, and unauthorised access to unseen examination papers. In the event of an allegation of cheating you are advised to contact the Student Union Advice Centre immediately after the incident.

It is in the best interests of all students for the University to maintain the good reputation of its awards. Your co-operation is expected in actively protecting the integrity of the assessment process. It is the duty of all students to observe high personal standards of academic honesty in their studies and to report any instances of malpractice of which they become aware.

The minimum penalty for a proven case of academic dishonesty is usually a mark of zero in that module, with the maximum being exclusion from the University

205MC – Conclusions

ANNOUNCEMENT: Media Departmental Seminars: the Department offers a series of seminars where external speakers present on a variety of key topics crossing over between media studies, photography, media production and journalism. Next dates:

  • Wed 13th November 1-2.30 ET130  – WYBIDIBD: When You Break It Down It Breaks Down – analysing social media as a progressive form of comics
  • Wed 11th December 1-2.30 ET130 –  How long is a piece of string? On the practice, scope and value of videographic film and moving image studies

205MC – Genre


Essential Readings

Other Resources

Lunch Task 

Drawing on the material from last week’s seminars and what we have discussed here trace the possible connections between filmic Scandinavian noir and the social context of the drama. Why should this genre emerge in Scandinavia in the 1980s and beyond? How is this relationship represented visually and stylistically, in its narrative structures, in its plots and storylines and themes? How do the central characters mirror this context?

205MC – Narrative

Essential Readings

Other Resources

Lunch Task 

Different media (for example fictional film, documentary film, news reports, newspaper columns, advertisements, fictional literature, music video etc) and different genres within each of these media (eg within fictional film – film noir, the gangster, chick flick, rom com etc) have different codes, conventions and rules for their narrative forms, even though the subject may be identical. In your groups, and using the research you did on Film Noir prepare a 5 -10 min informal presentation on the representation of crime in Film Noir, eg, what type of people tend to be the central protagonists, how are they portrayed, how does the stylistic, musical and visual presentation of the narrative help to produce the particular representation of crime in Noir? The following is a useful resource: