Communication and Culture | Advertising and Consumer Culture
C315 | 6078 | Williams, K.

TuTh, 9:30 AM-10:45 AM, TE F260

Fulfills College S&H Requirement
A portion of this class reserved for majors

Instructor: Katie Williams
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 279
Phone: 856-7385

We live within a consumer culture saturated with advertising—but
what does that mean? What characterizes a society infused with
consumerism, particularly a society that has had long treasured the
notion of “rugged individualism”? What is the individual’s position
within it? Are we brainwashed by the advertising industry, enslaved
by our desire to consume whatever they’re selling? Or does consumer
culture, with its flood of advertising and commodities, provide an
environment rife with tools for pursuing the American dream? What
is “the American dream,” and where does it come from? What are the
options to consumer culture, and how do they measure up?

In this class, we will explore these and related questions primarily
through readings and discussion. The goals of this course are
threefold: first, to establish a historical understanding of
American consumer culture—why consumerism emerged and how it has
developed; second, to examine the role of advertising, past and
present, in shaping society and social identity; and third, to
clarify and evaluate some of the issues we face and assumptions we
hold as a result of living within (and, inevitably, through)
consumer culture.

Primary texts in this course are likely to be Social Communication
in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace by W. Leiss,
S. Kline, S. Jhally, and J. Botterill, and An All-Consuming Century:
Why Commercialism Won in Modern America by Gary Cross.  Any
additional readings will be available through Oncourse. Grades will
be based on a combination of reading responses and papers.