Cultural Studies and Popular Culture

Welcome to Pop Culture! 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 - Understanding 'Popular Culture'



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stuart hall

Week 02



example of high-brow / low-brow distinctions (from Time magazine circa. 1940).

Week 02 - Culture and Anarchy


Two Truths and a Lie (Pop Quiz Edition)


High/Low Culture


Based on Arnold's book, how do you think he would rate the following cultural items? (0 being pure "anarchy" and 10 being pure "culture")



0


0


0


0


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Week 03


Sony Walkman Commercial circa 1981.


A great illustration of changing cultural understandings between generations.

Week 03 - Doing Cultural Studies


Before you answer the questions this week, be sure to try the Pop Quiz Challenge and guess which items students don't actually like...




0%



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Week 04


Series of Miller Lite commercials

Michael Schumacher ad

Week 04 - Psychoanalysis


Use some of the ideas in the dream-work to move from manifest to latent content in the two example videos. Note that you're not obsessed or crazy if you see implied themes of sex and/or violence. In fact, psychoanalysts would probably say you're in denial if you don't here.



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First Assignment


This video highlights some of the things I talk about and helps to demonstrate the cultural significance of this specific event.

The Cultural Snapshot

500-700 words + works cited

Choose a cultural object or practice from a specified time and place (e.g., playing soccer as an 8-year-old girl in Atlanta; when The Dark Knight came to theatres in North America in 2008; or reading X-Men comics as a teenager in southern California during the 1980s). Based on Raymond Williams’ concept of cultural analysis, which he defines as explaining the meanings and values that relate an object to society, explain how your specific cultural object operates—or operated—for the society you’ve chosen. You are encouraged to consider your own direct experience. But you may also wish to research an object or event with which you have no personal connection. Begin by describing the most important properties of your object and then establish an argument about what those explicit features reveal about the assumptions and understandings that surround that object. You can choose broad categories for time and place such as “contemporary North American cinema” or you can choose very specific properties such as “my grandparents’ apartment complex in Brooklyn during April 4, 1968.” Ultimately, your analysis will seek to interpret the relationship between the object or practice and its role in society, using specific examples and supporting evidence.

Week 05



Week 05 - Ways of Seeing


Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip
Detail from Calvin and Hobbes (1992)
Art Spiegelman's Maus
Detail from Art Spiegelman's Maus (1989)

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Week 06

Week 06 - Fables: Legends in Exile


Chris's Day
Chris knows a lot about Cultural Studies but can't draw for @#$%.

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Week 07



Week 07- Marxist Cultural Analysis



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Second Assignment


The Fables Visual Analysis

500-700 words + works cited

Choose an image or series of images from Fables. Begin by describing the most important explicit properties of the image(s) and then establish an argument about the underlying meanings you see. You can choose to explore allusions, metaphors, motifs, or any other lens through which you can more deeply understand the text. Choose at least one reading from class to ground your interpretation in a theoretical framework (e.g., Marxism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Youth Culture, etc.). Ultimately, your analysis will seek to better understand what the image(s) reveal(s) in society, using specific examples and supporting evidence from the course and your own research.

Week 08


Week 08- Ideological and Repressive State Apparatus



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Week 09


Week 09- Myth Today



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Week 10


Week 10 - Watching Dallas



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Third Assignment


The Film Analysis

500-700 words + works cited

Choose a film or series of films from recent Hollywood or television offerings. Begin by describing the most important explicit properties and then establish an argument about the underlying meanings you see. You can choose to explore allusions, metaphors, mise-en-scènes, motifs, or any other lens through which you can more deeply understand the text. Choose at least one reading from class to ground your interpretation in a theoretical framework (e.g., Marxism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Ideology, Simulation, etc.). Ultimately, your analysis will seek to better understand what the series of sounds and images reveal in society, using specific examples and supporting evidence from the course and your own research.

Week 11


Week 11 - Hyper-Reality



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Week 12



Week 12 - Postmodernism



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Week 13 - Notes on Deconstructing "the Popular"



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MORE ABOUT POP CULTURE

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

Readings

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