A key feature of modern life is the pervasiveness of media and the relationship it has with popular culture. From binge-watch sessions to iconic vines and from viral memes to guerilla advertising, the marriage of pop culture and communication is inseparable, while the impact this union has on society is inescapable. To gain a critical understanding of the construction of meaning with respect to pop culture, this course looks at pop culture from four angles: media artifacts (films, ads, individual scenes), industry (media production), historical context (influence of views on race/ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality), and audience (consumers of media and how they are influenced). By considering how pop culture both shapes and reflects the broader social power relationships in the United States, students will walk away from the course with new insight into modern life and the tools needed to navigate its ever-increasing complexity. Because this is an All-University Core Curriculum course, we have specific objectives: to place the history of popular culture within a broader context of U.S. history; to analyze a variety of texts that loosely fall into the category “arts and humanities,” and to suggest particular methods of critical thinking.
Field WorkCountry: Portugal
Date: September 26, 2019
This field class explores the musical genre of Fado, which was born in the soul of the Portuguese people. Fado tells a story about Portuguese history, and while many types of Fado exist, they are all characterized by mournful melodies and melancholic lyrics about life on the sea. This exploration includes a walking tour of Lisbon’s famed street art and a walk through the village of Mouraria to learn firsthand about the birth of a popular culture movement. Learning Objectives:
- Explore Fado music as a popular culture artifact through a historical lens
- Analyze the relationship between environment, social context, and pop culture
- Experience Fado through visual observation, listening to music, and tasting the cuisine of the culture responsible for its creation
- Discuss how diverse elements such as environment, historical context, immigration, and acculturation can produce and enrich popular culture