Communication and Culture | Using Popular Culture
C336 | 26959 | Simons, J.
TuTh, 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, C2 203
Meets during the second eight weeks of the semester
Fulfills College S&H Requirement
Instructor: Jon Simons
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 227
The course examines the extent to which contemporary public culture
is dominated by or shares the forms of popular culture. At stake in
this question is whether perceived shortcomings in popular culture
undermine the scope and quality of democratic discourse and
politics. Public culture is characterized in relation to the notion
of the public sphere, the institutional settings of political
activity, the mediated character of large-scale political discussion
and the forms of public space. Popular culture is characterized in
relation to folk, ‘local’ and ‘grass roots’ culture, contemporary
mediated and commercialized forms, in culture and entertainment
industries. The key questions posed are the extent to which
democratic political culture is governed by the norms and practices
of popular culture (in formal political settings as well as
electioneering), and whether (and as a consequence) democratic
politics is undermined by cultural populism, overly theatrical,
turned into a spectacle, or reduced to a simulacrum of democracy.
• Students will learn to analyze both the political
ramifications of popular culture and the cultural forms of political
• Most readings will be selected from two anthologies about
popular culture, covering a range of cultural commentators including
Adorno & Horkheimer, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, John Fiske, Jim
McGuigan, Jean Baudrillard and Douglas Kellner.
• Course will be conducted as a combination of lectures and
• Assignments will include four short reader responses (250
words), a 10 minute class presentation, a midterm and end of term
paper or project (3,500 words each). Also graded on attendance.
• Continues themes from C401: Words and Images; connects with
C445: Media, Culture and Politics.