A poststructural investigation of music teachers and music education in film
Cook, Andrew S
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As popular texts that circulate widely, films contribute to the way groups, individuals or ideas are understood in society. In this study I sought to explore the portrayals of music teaching in Hollywood movies, and examine the ways films might contribute to the occupational identity of music teachers. This investigation focused on four films that feature music teachers as major characters and that demonstrate a prevalent position in public consciousness as indicated by commercial success: Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), Music of the Heart (1999), Drumline (2000) and School of Rock (2002). I employed two poststructural approaches to analysis which view meaning as plural, negotiated and produced primarily by the reader's encounter with the text. One reading uses Derrida's project of deconstruction to focus on aporias, or paradoxes, and assumptions upon which texts make claims of truth. Aporias of responsibility, hospitality and the gift serve as lenses through which I investigate issues of professionalism, access and the image of the hero-teacher within music education. A second reading uses an intertextual approach to film analysis, acknowledging that texts derive meaning in part from their association and communication with other texts. Using related films, texts from popular culture and movie reviews, I investigate how these films construct images about gender, race and the value of music in schools. Exploring possible dominant, negotiated and contrary readings of these film texts, I look at a variety of possible interpretations and suggest ways that the films might be used by teachers and pre-service teachers to better understand expectations that people carry with them into the music education environment. As films may be used as sources for common-sense understandings in society, I explore how these films may act as structures to the agency of music teachers and how the negotiation of these portrayals might impact the music education environment.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University