For our final cafe group discussion we talked about our classmates presentations and how interesting it was to see theory applied to such a range of topics. For example, we were intrigued by how Derrida’s “Differance” could be applied to such an array of case studies from Savannah’s presentation on the injustices of our prison system to Pipe’s discussion on the cultural appropriation of dread locks to my own presentation on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I’m sure Derrida’s “Differance” was being used by several other students as well, all of whom are able to use the same principles of deconstruction in a number of different ways.
We also discussed how theory could be applied to similar topics in very different ways. Alex and Rochi both have case studies about reality television; however, the range of theorists we studied over the semester allowed them to take different approaches on their discussion of reality television. While an obvious choice for Rochi was Judith Butler and to use her ideas on performing gender to analyze the Real Housewives, Alex took a completely different approach to reality television that did not focus on gender stereotypes but rather stereotypes based on where one lives which she was able to do with the help of Barthes and Althusser.
Our discussion also focused heavily on how difficult these theories were for us to grasp initially. For the most part, when first reading Althusser, Derrida, Foucault etc. we were at a loss which made us all the more impressed at how far our class came over the course of the semester. Seeing our classmates presentations and researching our own case studies made the seemingly dry theories become much more interesting and showed us why it is important to study them.