“Meaning is constructed (made), not dis-covered”. Discuss the statement (ie. argue for or against it) using at least 3 of the following concepts: signifier/signified, paradigm/syntax, connotation/denotation, genre, intertextuality, discourse, representation, reading/writing. You may, if you choose, use Frankenstein and/or Gods and Monsters to illustrate your claims. Meaning, in terms of the cultural studies discipline, consists of the understanding in which an individual or a group of people have of a particular thing or entity, and take into account all types of different understandings regardless of its context.
However, it cannot be said that this understanding of a subject is purely “dis-covered” due to the fact that it would also be considered with the possibility of having the responder incorporating his own ideals which is carried with him. This essay will delve into the idea of meaning being constructed and not dis-covered, with the analysis of the concepts of genre, intertextuality and discouse and with reference to Bill Condon’s film Gods and Monsters.
Genre is simply believed to be a method which categorises certain types of literary disciplines such as drama and science fiction. This categorization immediately undertakes the idea of meaning being constructed due to the fact that people decide to ‘group’ certain genre’s together due to a created understanding of similarities. It is these similiarities which decide the relationships of, say for example sci-fi and horror, being grouped together often in many library and video shelves. A. G.
Thwaites believes that “genre is not simply a catalogue device, but instead names the way in which texts can relate to each other” (Thwaites 1994: 22), thus implying that people may familiarise texts with other similar such texts in order to possibly gain a better understanding of the texts itself. This understanding is most likely not conceived through the process of discovery, but rather is constructed by the person in order to create a comfortable individualistic knowledge of the text.
Similarly, Thwaites states that genre plays a role as “functions rather than things” and believes that it functions within the “context of social readings, interpretations and responses to these values and myths” (Thwaites 1994: 23). It is evident in the film Gods and Monsters, Whale’s “horror” movies of the 1920’s is perceived almost immediately as belonging in the horror genre. The scene in which Whale’s film Frankenstein is being screened in the bar exemplifies this idea, as all the people in the bar besides Boon unanimosely decide that a “horror” movie is being shown.