If you're struggling to focus your cultural criticism analysis ala Barthes, perhaps this email exchange will help:
From: Student, Inquiring
Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 10:43 AM
To: Sanders, Arnie
Subject: cultural criticism idea
How about an Orioles game?
From: Sanders, Arnie
Sent: Fri 4/24/2009 10:45 AM
To: Student, Inquiring
Subject: RE: cultural criticism idea
Hmmm...more like "Paris magazines with food on their covers" than "Elle vs. L'Espress." Can you narrow it to the mythic part? Remember to avoid mere "truth." For this exercise, we have no interest in it at all other than as contrast with the vehicles that are delivering the intoxicant to the masses. Um...for my sanity, can you give me a phrase or sentence that says what part of "Orioles game" you will use that focuses your analysis on the "Greek theater" part of the phenomenon?
OK--you have the "nouns," the mythic characterizations of available roles. Now find the "verbs," what the sports media say these sports gods "do to each other" or "get done to them." If I were looking for the mediated stage upon which these sports gods play out their myths, I suppose it would be the sports pages of a major metropolitan newspaper. Sunday and Monday mornings are good occasions upon which to watch the mythos being spun out of the mere deeds of the previous day or evening. Remember not to fall victim to the mere facts, which are the physics of the game, its tawdry personnel and their foibles. You are looking for Zeus abducting Io who is then pursued by Hera and turned into an Ox.
I fixed some dead links in the page of non-verbal-sign-system examples that work well as the "texts" for Barthes' semiotic interpretation, which Tyson calls "cultural criticism."
To destroy, productively, the notion that the crime rituals described in these texts are "normal" or "natural, compare them with an example from C17 England, take a look at advertisements in the lower right column of the back page of the London Gazette, January 24-28, 1688. The "crime report narrative" has basic roles, actions, and things acted upon which form the noun-subjects, verbs, and noun-objects of this system's "language," and the rules for combining them are easy to detect. Even the adjectives and adverbs of the crime report narrative repeat with impressive frequency because the socio-semiotic system supporting it is so robust and durable. Click on this link for the October 1, 1688 issue of the Gazette for the list of crimes excluded from the king's general pardon for that year--even in crime, there are "privileged" and "privative" acts. For comparison with a digital form of "Crime Literature," see these examples of a "Nigerian letter" or "419 fraud."
Forms of popular literature as clues to folk understanding of "high literature": "The Infancy Gospel of Thomas" (apocryphal); Sci-Fi magazine covers from the 1950s.
Historical data on the prices of goods and services mentioned in literary texts indicate relative worth: "Medieval [English] Prices" (Kenneth Hodges, on Paul Halsall's Medieval Sourcebook web site).