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Cultural Studies Program

Courses :: Fall 2007

C601 Introduction to Cultural Studies

Professor Striphas; M 9:30am-12:00pm
Meets with CMCL-C626

C701 Special Topics in Cultural Studies

Images and Critique in Public Culture
Professor Simons; R 4:00pm-6:30pm
Meets with CMCL-C608
(See description below)

Rhetorical Theories of Cultural Production
Professor Ivie; M 3:00pm-5:30pm
Meets with CMCL-C512 and AMST-G620

Postcolonial Theory
Professor Bose; TR 2:30pm-3:45pm
Meets with ENG-L680
(See description below)

Material Culture and Folklife
Professor Jackson; R 4:00-6:30pm
Meets with FOLK-F540
(See description below) 

Languages of Dissent and Distinction: Avant-Garde‘ish’ Film since the 1960s
Professor Breger; TR 4:00pm-5:15pm and W 6:50pm-8:50pm
Meets with GER-G825 and CMCL-C705
(See description below)

Concepts of Gender
Professor Sanders; T 11:00am-1:30pm
Meets with GNDR-G600
(See description below)

Scientific Practices & Feminist Knowledge
Professor Gremillion; R 1:00pm-3:30pm
Meets with GNDR-G601
(See description below)

Dance, Gender, and Embodied Discourse
Professor Royce; TR 2:30pm-3:45pm
Meets with ANTH-E460 and E660, and GNDR-G402 and GNDR-G 701
(See description below)

Variations in Blackness
Professor Halloran and Professor Guterl; T 12:20pm-3:20pm
Meets with CMLT-C461, AAADS-A602, AMST-G620

This is a year-long course; admittance requires a commitment to taking both the Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 semesters.

America in the Twentieth Century
Professor Bodnar; M 5:30pm-7:30pm
Meets with HIST-H750 and AMST-G751

C790 Individual Readings in Cultural Studies

Selected Course Descriptions

C 601 Introduction to Cultural Studies
Professor Ted Striphas

This course introduces you to cultural studies, a diverse intellectual formation committed broadly to producing theoretically informed and politically engaged scholarship.  Because cultural studies tends to shift in relation to specific geo-historical conditions, intellectual problems, and political concerns, many who are new to the field (and even some veterans, for that matter) find it difficult to pin down.  Indeed the question, “What is cultural studies?” has been posed countless times, yet rarely has it yielded satisfying or enduring answers.  There’s something about cultural studies that seems to resist definitional closure, which indeed makes the task of introducing the field, as J. Macgregor Wise observes, “daunting” for all involved.

Rather than trying to settle once and for all what cultural studies is, this course embraces the field’s elusiveness by stressing its ongoing reconstitution in practice. Thus, “What does cultural studies do?” will be our organizing motif.  What’s so important about this question is that it enjoins us to take stock of specific formations of cultural studies while remaining sensitive to its larger project.  It also encourages us to widen our frame of reference so as to encompass the signifying systems, material coordinates, and historical conjunctures out of which particular cultural studies practices have emerged.

This is a course not only about cultural studies (its theories, methods, key figures, debates, etc.), therefore, but also about the field’s conditions of possibility.  It proceeds primarily through a close reading and detailed discussion of primary works by scholars who’ve been at the forefront of inventing—and reinventing—cultural studies practice, with an eye towards situating their writings in determinate contexts.  The reading list likely will include selections from Louis Althusser, Ien Ang, Tony Bennett, Homi Bhabha, Charlotte Brunsdon, Judith Butler, James Carey, Kuan-Hsing Chen, John Clarke, Rosalind Coward, Michel Foucault, John Fiske, Jenny Garber, Paul Gilroy, Antonio Gramsci, Lawrence Grossberg, Stuart Hall, Dick Hebdige, Richard Hoggart, Toby Miller, Meaghan Morris, Angela McRobbie, Janice A. Radway, Edward Said, Jennifer Daryl Slack, Carolyn Steedman, E.P. Thompson, and Raymond Williams, among possible others.

Although this class ostensibly is about cultural studies, it is, in the end, really about the urgency of developing rigorous intellectual work that can help us to respond more effectively to the numerous political challenges—neoliberalism, neo-conservatism, and globalization, to name only a few—of our time.  Otherwise, to tell you the truth, we shouldn’t care less about cultural studies, what it is, and what it does or doesn’t do.

Post-colonial Theory
Professor Purnima Bose

By the twentieth century, over eighty per cent of the earth’s land surface had been colonized. For the British, imperial expansion was accompanied and consolidated by the spread of the English language and the inculcation of British cultural values through education. Colonial educational policies, however, became both politically and culturally double-edged. At the political level, they would result in the cultivation of a native clerical class to serve the Empire, and, simultaneously, the dissemination of bourgeois democratic ideals among the native, educated elite. Inspired by these ideals, this elite would emerge as the leadership of anti-colonial movements. At the cultural level, colonialism would have a profound impact on English literature, introducing semantic systems and epistemologies that have radically reshaped the novel.

This course will investigate the emergence and use of post-colonial theory as a primary intellectual framework through which to analyze colonial relationships and their political and cultural legacies. We will begin by reading foundational texts in the field including Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, Aime Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and Edward Said’s Orientalism. We will be concerned with how these texts disclose the ideological and discursive operations of Empire and anti-colonial nationalism. In particular, we will ask what kind of relationship these works posit between institutions and the intellectual.

Throughout the course, we will consider some of the seminal issues which define the history of post-colonial studies, such as the role of women in national liberation struggles, the ways that prison serves as an alternative site of learning, the utility of dependency theory for understanding global disparities of wealth, the status of the subaltern and the challenges of archiving subaltern consciousness, and the relationship between colonialism and globalization. Near the end of the course, we will turn to the institutionalization of post-colonial studies and question to what extent it has been driven by identity politics and the structure of global capitalism. Finally, we will examine how the emphasis on South Asia in the field has had an impact on its ability to develop models for understanding colonialism in other geopolitical sites.

Students should expect to write weekly electronic journals, take an active role in classroom discussion, and write a twenty-page seminar paper. In addition, students will be required to attend one or two lectures by visiting speakers outside of class.

A tentative list of readings includes: 

Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures.

Eqbal Ahmed, Confronting Empire.

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism.

Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism.

Cynthia Enloe, The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Richard Philcox’s translation)

Robert Foster, Materializing the Nation, Commodities, Consumption, and Media in Papua New Guinea.

Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Spivak’s edited collection, Selected Subaltern Studies

Harry Harootunian, The Empire’s New Clothes: Paradigm Lost, and Regained

Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, Ella Shohat editors, Dangerous Liaisons, Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives.

Edward Said, Orientalism.

E. San Juan Jr.’s Beyond Post-Colonial Theory

I will also assemble a packet of articles on the institutionalization of post-colonial studies and the relationship between colonialism and globalization.

Dance, Gender, and Embodied Discourse

Professor Royce

Dance does not exist except as it is realized in the human body.  Through its performance and its ability to elicit a kinesthetic response in performer and viewer alike, dance becomes elemental and gendered. Classical performance traditions, popular forms, and communally-embedded dance all address gender and the potential for embodied meanings.  Embodied forms of discourse speak through a variety of voices and channels creating meanings that may be ambiguous and contradictory.   We will examine form and meaning as we explore the danced body and its dialogic potential across Eastern and Western traditions both classical and popular.   Seminar participants may choose any genre or tradition of dance or dance-theatre for their research.

Readings for the course will include:

Judith Halberstam. 2005. In a Queer Place and Time.

Jennifer Nevile.  2004.  The Eloquent Body: Dance and Humanist Culture in Fifteenth Century Italy.

M. Lambek and A. Strathern, eds.  1998.  Bodies and Persons: Comparative Perspectives from Africa and Melanesia.

Julie Taylor. 1996. Paper Tangos.

Paul Stoller.  1997.  Sensuous Scholarship.

and selections from Anzalduá, Bauman, Bourdieu, Goodman, Lock & Scheper-Hughes, Mauss, and Royce.

Languages of Dissent and Distinction: Avant-garde-‘ish’ German Film Since the 1960’s
Professor Claudia Breger

This seminar explores contemporary German avant-garde and avant-garde-inflected cinema, comparing works from three different contexts: 1. New (West-) German Cinema from the 1960’s and 1970’s, 2. a number of aesthetically unusual (and often also politically oppositional) films produced by the East German DEFA and, 3. the post-unification ‘New Berlin School’. As the title announces, the guiding idea is to look closely at the relations between poetics and politics, studying film languages in terms of the cultural critique they perform. In doing so, we will cover a lot of heterogeneous ground (marked, nonetheless, also by correspondences and overlap). For example, we will study the ways in which concepts of realism, the documentary and authenticity on the one hand, ‘theatrical’ stylistic excess on the other are configured in the (Marxist, feminist, queer) counter-cultures emerging from the West German student movement and the artistic production of East German directors struggling for political articulation space. Similarly, we will compare the critique of ‘classical’ narrative forms in films from the seventies and the recent ‘New Berlin School’ which has also been labelled as a ‘nouvelle vague allemande’.

By thus connecting film productions from East, West and post-unification Germany, we will revisit notions of national cinema, while also studying the transnational flows which feed into the aesthetics of our different films.  Exploring links between ‘dissent and distinction,’ we will discuss the ways in which ‘entertainment’ vs. ‘art’ or ‘avant-garde’ boundaries are employed, as well as challenged and redrawn, for example through the re-use of popular genres. Films to be discussed are not yet finalized, but might include R.W. Fassbinder, Katzelmacher or The Third Generation, Wim Wenders, Kings of the Road, Helke Sander, REDUPERS: Die allseitig reduzierte Persönlichkeit, Ulrike Ottinger, Freak Orlando, Alexander Kluge, The Patriot, Frank Gerhard Klein, Berlin – Schönhauser Corner, Beyer, Carbid and Sorrel, Konrad Wolf, Der geteilte Himme/Divided Heaven, Evelyn Schmidt, The Bicycle, Benjamin Heisenberg,  Schläfer, Thomas Arslan’s Kardesler/Geschwister, Christian Petzold, Wolfsburg (or whatever recent films I can get my hands on in subtitled versions by early fall).

The class is offered for students in Germanic Studies, Communication and Culture and Cultural Studies. All materials will be available in English/with English subtitles. General reading assignments will be individualized to some degree to compensate for different backgrounds. Thus, students in German will be focusing on film theory and analysis while students in film will be focusing on German cultural history. Of course, individualized combinations of various items from both categories will be possible as well, depending on your needs. Together, we will read more specific texts pertaining to our individual films and their aesthetic strategies.


1. A course reader (on e-reserve).

2. Robert Stam. Film Theory: An Introduction (Paperback) Blackwell Publishing Limited (February 1, 2000) ISBN-10: 063120654X/ISBN-13: 978-0631206545 (especially for students without sustained background in film).

3. Fulbrook, Mary. History of Germany, 1918-2000: The Divided Nation (Blackwell Classic Histories of Europe) (Paperback). Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Limited; 2 edition (March 1, 2002) ISBN-10: 0631232087/ISBN-13: 978-0631232087 (especially for students without sustained background in German).

4. Fowler, Catherine. The European Cinema Reader (Paperback). Routledge; 1 edition (September 13, 2002). ISBN-10: 0415240921/ ISBN-13: 978-0415240925.

5. The German Cinema Book (BFI Modern Classics) (Paperback) by Tim Bergfelder (Editor), Erica Carter (Editor), Deniz Göktürk (Editor). British Film Institute (February 3, 2003). ISBN-10: 085170946X/ ISBN-13: 978-0851709468.

Images and Critique in Public Culture
Professor Simons

The course examines and assesses some contemporary critical thought about images, especially the role of images in politics. Rather than only pursuing various strategies for the critique of images that have become familiar as ideology critique, the course explores the possibility that it might be possible to think critically through images. It studies different types of images (in advertising, film, television, history and politics) through a variety of theoretical approaches (Marxist ideology critique, Benjamin's dialectics, semiotics, psychoanalysis, visual culture and rhetoric, and neuroscience). The course also addresses the following questions and issues: whether all types of images can be considered as a category; the relation between the visual and the verbal; the non-visual as well as visual character of images; the pertinence of iconoclastic hostility to images in society and politics; and the potential for critical thought by means of images. The course opens with the view that images are a problem for politics and society, before turning around the opening negative assessment of images by looking at the ways in which media images might provide critical insight or induce critical thinking. We also problematize the conception of images as only visual, leading to a deeper examination of the relation between words and images in democratic culture, then move on to some considerations of the imagistic nature of human thinking drawn from contemporary cognitive and neuroscience.

Concepts of Gender
Professor Sanders

This course introduces historical, theoretical, behavioral, philosophical, scientific, multi- and cross-cultural perspectives on gender and its meanings, exploring its disciplinary and interdisciplinary uses and implications. Attention is given to the emergence of the category "gender" itself, and its variable applications to different fields of knowledge, experience, cultural expression, and institutional regulation. The class will be taught as seminar. Readings are to be done before class so that you may fully participate in the discussion.  This course deals with aspects of human sexuality and gender in a straight-forward and explicit manner. If this is a problem for you, please do not take this course.

Scientific Practices & Feminist Knowledge
Professor Gremillion

This course examines intersections of gender and knowledge, with a particular focus on feminist analyses of scientific epistemology and practice, exploring the implications of various, sometimes conflicting, feminist theories about the social meaning and the gendered construction of scientific research. Particular focus is placed upon race, class, sexuality and cultural difference in medical, psychological, and evolutionary accounts of "human nature." Specific topics for students' research projects may include: the history and politics of sexual difference in scientific discourse; feminist perspectives on, and appropriations of, the concept of objectivity; the circulation of scientific findings and technologies in popular culture; and the formulation of alternative scientific methods and knowledge.

Theories of Material Culture
Professor Jason Jackson

Material culture--the stuff of human existence--is again at the center of many key debates and discussions in the humanities and human sciences. Centered on the concerns of folklorists and ethnomusicologists, but open to students across the humanities and social sciences, this course will examine key theoretical perspectives used in the study of material culture. While some attention will be given to literatures and topics grounded in historical and archaeological methods, the course's methodological center of gravity will be ethnographic and ethnological. We will read and critically examine a combination of classic and contemporary studies and will explore an array of theoretical perspectives not only on material culture per se, but also on the ways that social and cultural life are, according to various perspectives, reflected in, mediated by, fashioned through, recast via, or contested around, things and peoples' relations with things. We will begin and conclude by considering the roots and fruits of the distinctive tradition of material culture studies associated with the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, but we will place our school of material culture studies, which is dominant in American folklore studies at-large, into dialogue with important older perspectives and with other contemporary ones that are increasingly influential in the wider field of material culture studies today.