Comparative Literature | Introduction to Popular Culture
C151 | 1814 | Ed Chamberlain

C151: Introduction to Popular Culture: Bodies and Identities (3 cr.)
~ Meets daily: M-F: 10:20AM-11:35AM and satisfies A & H and Cultural
Studies credit

Instructor: E. Chamberlain; E-mail:


In this course, we will explore various scopes and methodologies for
the serious study of bodies and identities in mass consumption
entertainment and literature.  To begin our critical thinking, we
will ask: “What is popular culture”? and “How does popular culture
construct the notion of the body?  We will read excerpts from
critical works such as Victoria Pitt’s In the Flesh, Susan Bordo's
Unbearable Weight, and Judith Butler's work on performativity.  The
course will look at how mediums such as film, magazines, new media,
and books depict concerns for: so-called "ideal" images, plastic
surgery, body enhancement, extreme makeovers, weightlifting, weight
loss, eating disorders, extreme eating, straight/queer body
images, “able” bodies, exoticized bodies and tattooed/pierced body
aesthetics.  We will closely read Kincaid's My Brother, Rice’s
Interview with The Vampire, and Kafka’s A Hunger Artist in order to
examine the ideas and underpinnings of sickness, able-bodiedness and
transnational bodies, nourishment of the body, the dying/deceased
body, supernatural bodies and imaginary/super bodies.  In addition,
the course will reflect on media such FX's program Nip/Tuck, pro-
anorexia websites, Elliot's The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the
Dessert and/or Almodóvar's Talk to Her, excerpts and images from
bodybuilding and fashion magazines, and TV clips of The Swan and The
Biggest Loser.  The course will require the completion of the
following: significant class participation, several quizzes, a
midterm and final exam, one 2-3 page film review and one 4-5 page
comparative essay.