Context and Meaning

Symbols and Meaning(requires PowerPoint Viewer)

Supplemental Text:
Gloria Naylor, “Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?”

Read FNL Chapter 5 for Friday

That Bissinger so liberally sprinkles his prose with expletives and racial slurs is troubling to some.  However, we have to remember that Bissinger isn’t trying to represent his own views, here.  He is attempting, in journalistic fashion, to reconstruct for the reader the context that the story takes place in.  Odessa is a complex place, with a multitude of historical, racial, and economic influences permeating its social infrastructure.  Understanding this context, and these influence, is necessary to properly reacting to Bissinger’s text.

Context is a key element to meaning.  Today we explored how symbols derive their meaning, how they can have multiple meanings, and how words can have a profoundly different impact in a different context.  Gloria Naylor talks about her experience as a black artist in her article, “Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?”  She explores how in certain contexts, the word that is a derogatory slur out of a white mouth becomes an expression of praise from a black mouth.

Given this new understanding of context, we can read chapter 5 of Friday Night Lights with open minds and an eye towards using that to understand how everything binds this community together.