Cultural Studies I: Doing Cultural Studies
Full course description
Cultural Studies is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary inquiry into the ways in which contemporary culture, especially popular culture, operates and functions. It explores how cultural processes and artefacts are produced, distributed, and consumed, and traces the diverse ways in which people shape and transform culture particularly in relation to issues of identity, difference, and power. In contrast to more traditional approaches to culture, Cultural Studies focuses not merely on ‘elevated’ cultural objects such as ‘great’ works of art and literature, but also - and primarily - deals with more mundane cultural phenomena. Addressing topics that range from fashion advertisements to Facebook, and from the iPhone to Lady Gaga, Cultural Studies zooms in on seemingly familiar, yet highly complex, practices of everyday life.
This course introduces you to the key thinkers, topics, and critical frameworks in Cultural Studies. It starts with some of the foundational texts and formative debates within the field, most notably the work of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and Stuart Hall, associated with the Frankfurt School and Birmingham School respectively. Subsequently, we will take a closer look at several topical debates and conceptual approaches within contemporary Cultural Studies. We will address themes such as consumer culture, advertising, and social networks; the power and politics of representation; material culture and identity; cultural performances of gender; and the transnational cultural flows of globalization. By reading the work of major theorists such as Zygmunt Bauman, Henry Giroux, and Joanna Zylinska, you will familiarize yourself with a variety of critical approaches to cultural theory. Lastly, by looking at the interrelated topics of posthumanism, art, and technoscience, the final tasks of the course will explore some of the most stirring debates within Cultural Studies today, setting out new directions for the future development of the field.
- To introduce students to the foundational texts and formative debates that have shaped Cultural Studies as an academic field of inquiry.
- To familiarize students with key concepts, themes, and topical debates within contemporary Cultural Studies.
- To introduce students to some of the central theoretical approaches within Cultural Studies, including critical theory, semiotics, material culture studies, gender theory, and critical posthumanism.
- To provide students with the analytical skills to develop their own examination of cultural objects and processes.
- E-Readers. (Articles that are not included in the E-Reader will be made available for photocopying during the course).