Homage, intertextuality, and cultural references

This has been one of my favourite lessons to teach – it is an introduction to homage within texts. As homage is something that is present across many media forms, this lesson is perfect for both English and Media Studies.

The lesson begun with putting the students into groups (I had warned them about this, so they didn’t kick up a fuss!). I then asked what they thought homage was; they came up with a close to perfect definition, and then wrote down the definition that I had for their notes: A demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but most often by some more indirect reference AND When someone references the work of someone else in a text.

Examples came next, kicking it off the Banksy and Warhol:

And the many pop culture references to da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Now for the fun part. I handed out a3 sheets with 20 images on them. Twelve of the twenty images were references in Lady Gaga’s new video Applause. Their job was to watch the clip, and pick out as many references as they could. The group with the most got chocolate!

The task worked really, really well. And they got right into it – I was pleasantly surprised and the high level of their discussion around the references and how many they got – the winning group picked out all twelve!

To link it back to what we were learning, I related it to The Teen Film Genre, and how modern day Teen Films reference those in the 80’s, with some examples. The lesson ended with a summative task of the learners writing a paragraph describing two references to 80’s films from the film Easy A, and explain why the director has done this.

Ultimately, it was a great lesson, and I will use it again and again in years to come.

P.S. I got a lot of my Gaga information from this amazing article: Every Cultural Reference You Probably Didn’t Catch in Lady Gaga’s New Video

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