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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

COMM 8210 "Studying Popular Culture"-Fall 2010

COMM 8210, "Studying Popular Culture", will be taught fall 2010 by Instructor Edward Schiappa on Thursdays, 2:30-5:30 p.m. in Ford B80. The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the purposes, theories, and methods of scholarly criticism of popular culture artifacts and practices.

COMM 8210 "Studying Popular Culture"-Fall 2010
The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the purposes, theories, and methods of scholarly criticism of popular culture artifacts and practices. The course will involve a combination of close reading and discussion of a number of academic works that perform popular culture criticism, augmented by occasional lectures by the instructor and guest visits by popular culture critics.
Each student will execute a research project during the semester aimed at producing a competitive conference paper or publication.
Some of the questions we will explore include: Why do we engage in the scholarly analysis of popular culture? What counts as a "text," an "audience," and "method"? Who are the appropriate audiences for scholarly analysis of popular culture? How might we bring pedagogy and scholarship into a productive conversation in the performance of our professional duties? What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the dominant theoretical approaches to popular culture criticism? How might we bring critical-humanistic and social scientific approaches to popular media into a productive conversation?
Class sessions will discuss assigned books that exemplify strategies of analyzing popular culture practices and artifacts. The primary modus operandi of the class is to study exemplary works to note their strengths and limitations, and to produce a work of our own.
Seminars always have to negotiate the tension between depth and breadth. The relevant literature concerning popular culture analysis is vast and there is no way a single class can cover it all. At the same time, to examine only one approach risks leaving students without an appreciation of the range of theoretical, critical, and methodological options available. Accordingly, the way this seminar will negotiate this tension is to read seven books thoroughly and carefully. Some of these books are acknowledged "classics" of pop culture analysis that every serious scholar should read. Our reading of these books will be augmented by short lectures by the instructors to fill in any problematic gaps in students' knowledge of relevant theories or research traditions. Through this combination of close readings of a limited number of texts and supplemental lectures and materials, students hopefully will complete the class feeling they have a solid basis for continued research in the area of popular culture analysis.
Note: Below are listed the tentative list of books we will read, though the final line-up has not yet been determined:
Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (Routledge, 1981)
Janice Radway, Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (University of North Carolina Press, 1991) OR her A Feeling for Books (University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
Sut Jhally & Justin Lewis, Enlightened Racism: The Cosby Show, Audiences, and the Myth of the American Dream (Westview Press, 1992),
Sarah Benet-Weiser, Kids Rule!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship (Duke UP, 2007).
Laurie Ouellette & James Hay, Better Living Through Reality TV: Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008)
Gilbert Rodman, Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend (Routledge, 1996)
Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Wesleyan University Press, 1994)
Edward Schiappa, Beyond Representational Correctness: Rethinking Criticism of Popular Culture (Albany: SUNY Press, 2008).
Please email Edward Schiappa if you have any questions schiappa@umn.edu