With the rise of digital media, popular culture is often claimed to be more different than ever before - but is it really?
This course is a contemporary study of popular culture in America: its development and characteristics, its role in shaping our individual lives and key social institutions, and its broad effects on our globalizing world. We will look at music, television, film, and other media throughout the history of popular culture in order to differentiate the new from the timeless. We will consider diverse sources to break down the ways that pop culture works in our lives, from boy bands such as One Direction, to series like 13 Reasons Why, to Captain America and other movie franchises.
Popular culture surrounds us, and this course will provide the tools necessary to step back and consider the ways in which entertainment subtly moves us and shapes our world. We will read texts that will lend a critical apparatus for understanding popular culture, host debates over the role popular culture plays in our lives, meet with the makers who produce cultural artifacts, and devise methods to be more responsible, literate, and active consumers of popular culture. The course will culminate in a self-designed final project, which will be geared towards a permanent online product (blog, web video, podcast, etc.) that will both engage with and become part of the fabric of popular culture.