Communication and Culture | Senior Seminar in Communication & Culture
C401 | 3004 | Ted Striphas

CMCL-C 401: Senior Seminar in Communication & Culture
(Topic: Introduction to Cultural Studies)
Class Number: 3004

Tu/Th 1:00P-2:15P, Location TBA

Professor: Ted Striphas
Office: 200 Mottier Hall
Office Hours: TBA
Phone: 856-7868

How, where, and through what means does power work in daily life?
This class is an attempt to answer this question – or to begin to
answer it, anyway – by looking at the range of ways culture relates
to processes of control, resistance, and change in contemporary
societies.  In other words, this class will be an introduction to
cultural studies.

“Culture,” Raymond Williams once wrote, “is one of the two or three
most complicated words in the English language.”  In making this
claim, Williams, one of cultural studies’ most important early
figures, drew attention to the fact that culture refers to more than
just the way of life of a specific group of people.  Culture also
refers to a range of artifacts, value systems, and processes by
which people make distinctions and judgments about one another on
the basis of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age,
morality, and so forth.  Yet, culture also gathers and releases both
our individual and collective desires; it can be profoundly
pleasurable, sometimes even empowering, by opening new pathways of
thought, practice, and experience.  In short, culture is an
increasingly important arena in which we live our lives and through
which we try to make sense of ourselves and one another.  This
introduction to cultural studies will attempt to figure out how that
happens . . . or might happen differently.

From Elvis fandom to National Geographic and “Happy Birthday to
You,” our readings, like the field of cultural studies itself, will
be broad, eclectic, and hopefully at least a little fun.  In
addition, we’ll look at important primary and secondary writings
about the field of cultural studies, with an eye toward how to carry
out research from a cultural studies perspective.

Required readings: Catherine A. Lutz and Jane L. Collins, Reading
National Geographic; Kembrew McLeod, Owning Culture: Authorship,
Ownership, and Intellectual Property Law; Gilbert B. Rodman, Elvis
After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend; either John
Storey, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (3rd ed.) or John Storey
(ed.) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader; and a small
course reader.

Assessment likely will be based on attendance and participation, an
in-class group facilitation, a short paper, and a substantial
semester research project.