Social Oppression: The systematic (because social institutions reinforce) mistreatment of
one group by another group, based on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Class, Sexuality, Physical
Ability, and Age.
Stereotypes: An oversimplified conception/image constructed of a particular group
(Asian women are Lotus Blossoms or Dragon Ladies, for example, while Asian men are
martial arts experts). The danger of stereotypes is that individuals (who identify or not
with a particular group) are expected to conform to the set type for that group.
Internalized Oppression: When individuals of an oppressed group mistreat themselves
and/or members of their own group because they psychologically believe the values and
perceptions (of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, Physical Ability, and Age) that social
institutions are reinforcing.
Dominant Culture: is a culture that is the most powerful, widespread, or influential
within a social or political entity in which multiple cultures are present. In a https://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society" \o "Societysociety refers to the
established language, religion, values, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual" \o
"Ritualrituals, and social customs. These traits are often the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Norm_(sociology)" \o "Norm (sociology)norm for the society as a whole. The dominant
culture is usually, but not always, in the majority and achieves its dominance by
controlling social institutions such as communication, educational institutions, artistic
expression, law, political process, and business. The culture that is dominant within a
particular geopolitical region can change over time in response to internal or external
factors, but one is usually very resilient and able to reproduce itself effectively from
generation to generation. Dominant culture can be promoted with deliberation and by the
suppression of other cultures or subculture. In America “dominant culture” is: masculine,
heterosexual, white, middle-class populations.
The Other: The concept of The Other highlights how many societies create a sense of
belonging, identity and social status by constructing social categories as binary opposites.
This is clear in the social construction of gender in Western societies, or how socialization
shapes our ideas about what it means to be a “man” or a “woman.” There is an inherently
unequal relationship between these two categories. Note that these two identities are set
up as opposites, without acknowledging alternative gender expressions. In the early
1950s, Simone de Beauvoir argued that “Otherness is a fundamental category of human
thought. Thus it is that no group ever sets itself up as the One without at once setting up
the Other over against itself.” de Beauvoir argued that woman is set up as the Other of
man. Masculinity is therefore socially constructed as the universal norm by which social
ideas about humanity are defined, discussed and legislated against. The Other can also be
used the verb othering. It is a usage that distinguishes and identifies (labels) someone as
belonging to a category, defined as “Other”. In practice, othering excludes those persons
who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the self. Simply put, the
other is anyone who isn’t included within the definition of dominant culture.
Patriarchy: an unjust social system that enforces gender roles and is oppressive to both
men and women. It often includes any social mechanism that evokes male dominance
over women. Feminist theory typically characterizes patriarchy as a social construction,
which can be overcome by revealing and critically analyzing its manifestations. Many
feminists (especially scholars and activists) have called for culture repositioning as a
method for deconstructing patriarchy. Culture repositioning relates to culture change. It
involves the reconstruction of the cultural concept of a society. Prior to the widespread
use of "patriarchy", feminists used the terms "male chauvinism" and "sexism" to refer
roughly to the same phenomenon. Author bell hooks argues that the new term identifies
the ideological system itself (that men are inherently dominant or superior to women) that
can be believed and acted upon by either men or women, whereas the earlier terms imply
only men act as oppressors of women.
The Male Gaze: coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey, in her 1975 essay entitled
"Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" is the way visual arts depict the world and
women from a masculine point of view and in terms of men's attitudes. Mulvey posits that
the gender power asymmetry is a controlling force in cinema and constructed for the
pleasure of the male viewer, which is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideologies and
discourses. The male gaze occurs when the camera puts the audience into the perspective
of a heterosexual man. It may linger over the curves of a woman's body, for instance. The
woman is usually displayed on two different levels: as an erotic object for both the
characters within the film and for the spectator who is watching the film. The man
emerges as the dominant power within the created film fantasy. The woman is passive to
the active gaze from the man. This adds an element of "patriarchal" order, and it is often
seen in "illusionistic narrative film". Mulvey argues that, in mainstream cinema, the male
gaze typically takes precedence over the female gaze, reflecting an underlying power
asymmetry. This inequality can be attributed to patriarchy, which has been defined as a
social ideology embedded in the belief systems of Western culture and in patriarchal
societies. It is either masculine individuals or institutions created by these individuals that
exert the power to determine what is considered "natural". Over the course of time, these
constructed beliefs begin to seem "natural" or "normal" because they are prevalent and
carry out unchallenged, thus arguing that Western culture has adopted a dyadic,
hierarchical ideology which sets masculinity in binary opposition to femininity thus
creating levels of inferiority.
Double-Consciousness: Coined by W.E.B. Du Bois in the Souls of Black Folk, refers to
the ways in which people of color in the U.S. must negotiate conflicting cultural
identities, such as being of Asian descent and American, being of African descent and
American, and the like, against mainstream dominant culture.
Orientalism: Coined by Edward Said, a scholar who theorizes in Colonial narratives, this
term refers to the power relationship between “East” and “West,” and how in “Western”
narratives the “West” is represented as dominant and superior over the “East” (think of
how the “West” is constructed as “civilized” as opposed to the barbarism of the “third
world”). The “Othering” of the East helped to jusitify colonialism, but also helped raise
the power of the West as superior.
10. Exotic/Exoticism: Exemplifies “Orientalism” in the sense that the “West” constructs the
“East” as “alien/foreign,” something which can “spice” the domestic economy of the
“West.” So, the importation of “Eastern” objects is needed to stimulate the domestic. A
contemporary example of the importation of artifacts, for example, is the mail-order bride
11. Horizontal Aggression: a term coined by Gloria Steinem to describe indirect and (often
unconsious) agreesion from one woman to another in an attempt to subvert power. Also
connected to lateral violence, which is displaced violence directed against one's peers
rather than one's true adversaries. This construct is used often in explaining minority-onminority aggression.
12. Gaslighting: is a form of mental abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting
their own memory,perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an
abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events
by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.The term owes its origin to the
1938 play Gas Light and its film adaptations.
Allegory: A narrative in verse or prose, in which abstract qualities (death, pride, greed, for
example) are personified as characters.
2. Alliteration: Repetition of an initial consonant or cluster sound in two or more words in a
line or in lines in close proximity.
Allusion: A figure of speech that makes an indirect or casual reference to a historical or
literary figure, event, or object.
Ambiguity: A phrase, statement, or situation that may be understood in two or more
ways. In literature ambiguity is used to enrich meaning or achieve irony by forcing
readers to consider alternative possibilities.
Antagonist: A character who rivals or opposes the protagonist.
Archetype: Themes, images, and narrative patterns that are universal and thus embody
some enduring aspects of human experience. Some of these themes are the death and
rebirth of the hero, the underground journey, and the search for the father.
Central Intelligence: Another variation on the third person point of view, where narrative
elements are limited to what a single character sees, thinks, and hears.
Characterization: The portrayal of a character by direct description, by his or her
actions, or by other characters’ revelations about him or her.
Character Driven Fiction: Character driven means the plot progresses because of the
actions of the characters instead of the characters reacting to events beyond their control.
Opposite of plot or action driven fiction.
10. Climax: The highest point of interest and excitement in a narrative or story.
11. Conflict: A source of anxiety, frustration, or opposition that motivates a character into
action; conflict may come from another character, and antagonist, a society or political or
social group, nature, or the individual’s personality. Conflict can be external (plot) and/or
12. Diction: Appropriate selection of words and their appropriate usage; a level of speech that
may be high (formal), middle, or low (informal, colloquial, or slang).
13. Forshadowing: Subtle indication of future events.
14. Irony: A figure of speech, often humorous or sarcastic, in which the intended meaning of
the words contrasts directly with the usual meaning, also called verbal irony; dramatic
irony refers to a situation in which a character’s speech or actions have an unintended
meaning known to the audience but not the character.
15. Imagery: Descriptive language used to convey a mental picture that calls into action one
of the five senses or kinesthesia; imagery may be literal or figurative.
16. Metaphor: A figure of speech showing the similarity of dissimilar things; a contrast in
which an object is identified with another wholly different object by analogy.
17. Narrator (or Point of View): The teller of a story, who may be first–person, third-person,
central intelligence, omniscient, objective, or intrusive.
18. Non-linear Narration: The manner of telling the events of a story with the use of
flashbacks and meditations; the opposite of a chronological story.
19. Omniscient Narrator: An all-knowing narrator; a third-person narration in which the
narrator describes all of the action and characterization.
20. Parable: A short story used to illustrate a lesson. Unlike a fable, which employs animals,
plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature, parables have human characters. Parable is a
type of analogy.
21. Pathetic Fallacy: A kind of personification that attributes human feelings or animate
qualities to inanimate things; false emotionalism.
22. Persona: A second self created by an author to tell a story.
23. Plot: The action of a story; the narration of events employing the use of character,
conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, a resolution or denouement.
24. Protagonist: The main character in a story, novel, or play.
Rising Action: Intensification of action based on the protagonist’s attempts to resolve
conflict; the action leading up to the climax.
26. Round Character: A term coined by E.M. Forester meaning a complex character; the
opposite of a flat character or stereotype.
27. Second Person Point of View: Where the narrator tells the story to another character
using the word you. Within this device, the author could be talking to the audience
28. Setting: The place, time, and social context in which a work occurs. Often the setting
contributes significantly to the story.
Simile: The direct comparison of two unlike objects or ideas joined by like, as, or seems.
30. Stream of Consciousness: The thoughts, feelings, emotions of a character presented as
he or she thinks them. A Modernist device.
31. Symbol: An object, idea, person, or place that means more that what it is literally;
figurative levels of meaning that accrue to any object.
32. Symbolism: The use of one object to suggest or represent another object.
33. Theme: The main or underlying idea of a work, the point or message of the work.
34. Tone: An attitude or quality of voice that conveys a sense of feeling or emotion.
35. Unreliable narrator: The speaker or voice of a work who is not able to accurately or
objectively report events.
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