AMS 390 • American Popular Culture: Theory and Method
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
In this graduate research seminar, we will survey several schools of thought regarding the study of popular culture. After an initial attempt to define popular culture, we will assess various (and occasionally divergent) scholarly perspectives on popular culture as a form of social control, a site of class conflict, a form of folk agency, and/or as a location for expressing social and cultural hierarchies. Moreover, we will attempt to place the works we read within the broader historical context in which they were written. For ten of the class meetings, each student will be required to submit an abstract or set of study/discussion questions based on the weeks reading. After twelve weeks of reading and discussion, we will adjourn for a couple of weeks while students conduct primary source research. During our last meeting, each person will present a short summary of h/her final paper and will solicit questions regarding methodology, organization, source materials, etc. Each student will produce a publishable paper of fifteen-twenty pages in length comprised mainly of primary source materials on some aspecthistorical or contemporaryconcerning American popular culture.
Tentative Reading List (please note that this list will likely change!): Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment Jean Baudrillard, Simulation and Simulacra Walter Benjamin, Illuminations Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter Roland Barthes, Mythologies Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume I Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (selected portions) bell hooks, Outlaw Culture Chuck Klosterman, Fargo Rock City Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media Gilbert Seldes, The 7 Lively Arts Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature Recommended: Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, eds., Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks