Communication and Culture | Senior Seminar in Communication and Culture (Topic: Introduction to Cultural Studies)
C401 | 25097 | Striphas, T.

TR, 9:30 AM-10:45 AM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 203

Instructor: Ted Striphas
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 213
Phone: 856-7868

How, where, and through what means do power and politics 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, persistence, 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 between 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, timely, and interestingly eclectic.  We’ll also 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 texts: Catherine A. Lutz and Jane L. Collins, Reading
National Geographic; Kembrew McLeod, Freedom of Expression®:
Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property;
Gilbert B. Rodman, Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a
Living Legend; John Storey (ed.) Cultural Theory and Popular
Culture: A Reader (3rd ed.); and a small selection of articles
available on e-reserve.

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