Popular Culture

Course Description

Introduces students to the concept and origins of popular culture and to social theories used by academics to analyze its impact on self and culture in modern consumer societies. Topics include mass media, TV, the internet, video games, sports, leisure, fashion, celebrity, shopping, advertising, and youth culture.

Learning Outcomes

  • Analyze the interaction among society, the individual, and popular culture and the ways in which one impacts upon and forms the other.
  • Introduce students to the history of popular culture, cross-culturally and in American society, with special emphasis on the rise of industrial and post industrial society and the emergence of mass culture.
  • Discuss the role of mass media technology in shaping our notions of self, identity, society, community, and our attitudes about social issues.
  • Understand the nature and wide varieties of popular culture and their interaction within a larger socio-historical context.
  • Introduce students to theoretical approaches to the study of popular culture (i.e., socialization, critical, feminist, poststructuralist, postmodern, Americanization, McDonaldization, new means of consumption, Gerbnerandapos;s theory of cultivation and storytelling).
  • Discuss the increasing world-wide significance of Hollywood and American popular culture as world-wide socialization agents and U.S. global exports.
  • Involve students in both descriptive and analytical writing as a means of critiquing popular culture artifacts.


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