Popping Culture: Research Methods for Studying the Popular

Welcome to Pop Culture 2! Whether you're officially registered or just checking out the site, you're now part of the class! You'll soon think more deeply about everything that was once "obvious" or "common sense." Then, after your childhood innocence is shattered, you'll be more critically reflective about media representations and everyday practices. By the end, you'll be engaging with popular culture more deeply than ever.

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Week 01

Week 01 - Introduction

Two Truths and a Lie (Pop Quiz Edition)

Introduction to Popular Culture

Week 02

Week 02 - Method

Two Truths and a Lie (Pop Quiz Edition)

Michel Foucault - Method

Week 03

"How to Write a Love Song"

Country Song Mashup

Week 03 - On Popular Music

Week 04

Sam Cooke, "A Change is Gonna Come" (1963)

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, "The Message" (1982)

Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon, "The History of Rap"

Week 04 - Race and Music

First Assignment

Pop Music Analysis

500-700 words + works cited

Building on the readings and discussions from this section of the course, students will critically assess a popular song, artist, or series of songs/albums. Students will develop a thesis, suggest an appropriate use of at least one of the assigned readings for understanding the text(s) in question, and provide a bibliography of no less than 3 additional academic sources to support their claims. When forming a thesis, students may wish to consider one or more of the following questions: Does the song/artist help support or negate the claims made by Adorno or other theorists? How can listeners better understand the structure(s) of this music? Where does power exist within this music and how can we critically interpret it? What makes this music “good” or “bad” and how can we justify such claims?

Week 06

Week 06 - Postmodern Practices

Week 07

Week 07 - Genre


Upon successful completion of this course, you'll be able to:

  • define "popular culture" and related terms while elaborating upon their significance in contemporary and historical settings
  • recognize the major theoretical and methodological approaches to studying popular culture
  • situate popular culture within larger social, economic, and political contexts
  • critically evaluate contemporary claims and debates about popular culture
  • design and conduct analyses of popular culture artefacts and practices


There will be some linked readings, but these are the two books you should have: