Category Archives: M84MC

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.