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When Art Becomes Explosive: Two examples from modern European societies of controversies related to artistic representations as they were constructed in Swedish press
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Controversies concerning artistic representation have been part of the artistic arena and the public debate for centuries. With the introduction of mass media as a means of communication, the debate on how to understand or interpret artistic conflicts is being widely spread. The mediated controversies are symbols of what is being discussed, they are part of a struggling to assert particular structuring between discourses.

For the purpose of analyzing the construction of media discourse, two mediated controversies pertaining to art have been chosen, the controversy on the Ecce Homo exhibition (1998), and the controversy on the Muhammad cartoons (2005-2006). The two controversies share some basic characteristics: in both cases, religion, politics, mass media and art came to be discussed.

Media is seen as simultaneously reflecting and constructing discourses. The thesis argues that mediated controversies related to artistic representations can be seen as texts within a culture, places where tendencies to discursive change appears.

Working with this assumption – art as text within a culture – it will be important to study works of art that have been in the center of conflicts, breaks, or controversies that have created new understandings, or, which could be the case, have made clear different endeavors to limit some interpretations or understandings.

The thesis focuses on discourse analysis as it is conducted by Norman Fairclough. Critical discourse analyses will be used in the study of media texts from four daily newspapers in Sweden, covering a six months period. The result points to a tendency in both mediated controversies to articulate religious discourses of religious in configurations with political discourses. Creative discourse practices were found, but discourses strengthening existing orders of discourse were more frequent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 120 p.
Keyword [en]
Artistic controversy, mass media, critical discourse analysis
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-209342OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-209342DiVA: diva2:656822
Subject / course
Educational program
Master Programme in Euroculture
Available from: 2013-12-02 Created: 2013-10-17 Last updated: 2013-12-02Bibliographically approved

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