2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

Hop on Pop: Investigating and Intervening in American Popular Culture

Revised Last Updated: 11/10/2008

Fall and Winter quarters

Faculty: Julia Zay cinema & media studies, gender & sexuality studies, Chico Herbison African American studies, American studies

Major areas of study include popular culture studies, American studies, African American history and studies, cinema and media studies, gender and sexuality studies, humanities and writing.

Class Standing: This Core program is designed for freshmen.

This program will not be accepting new students winter quarter.

This two quarter interdisciplinary program provides a broad foundation in approaches to the study of the concept of the “popular” through an investigation of American popular culture. We’ll become familiar with a range of disciplinary approaches to thinking critically and historically about such things as amusement parks, punk rock and gossip columnists, and we’ll try our hand at forcing some jams and pileups in the flow of pop traffic.

The ‘popular’ as a concept is at least as old as the crowd and the town square, and is related to the concepts of folk and mass culture as well as the public sphere. We’ll approach popular culture as a body of widely shared and contested beliefs, practices and material objects. Fall quarter we’ll investigate the history of cultural hierarchy and the ways in which anything from a pair of jeans to the sound of a saxophone comes to have cultural meaning, and hence value on the highbrow—lowbrow continuum. We will focus primarily on fashion, material culture, television, film, print media, popular music and digital culture, with occasional forays into other types of pop culture. We will analyze how such critical factors as ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, class, age, and region are shaped by and reshaped in popular culture. We'll investigate the "mainstream/margin" distinction as well as questions of complicity and resistance and learn why it is so crucial to nuance our thinking about all of these critical issues. Winter quarter we'll continue to ground ourselves in history, theory, and methods of analysis while we examine artists and other cultural figures whose work interrogates consumer and popular culture. Winter quarter students will embark on research projects of their own design.

Popular culture analysis occurs in a number of different fields, including sociology, communications, film studies, anthropology, history, cultural studies, literature, gender, ethnic, sexuality/queer studies, and American studies. Part of your work in this program will be to begin to develop your ability to read, evaluate and synthesize materials from these different disciplines into your own interdisciplinary analyses. The forms these analyses take will range from written essay to manifesto to public service announcement and can be created for page, screen, speaker, stage, or the bus stop. We’ll explore the larger public role your analyses might play through our study of the figure and work of the “Public Intellectual.” Particular emphasis will be placed on the crafting, editing and refinement of written essays, and we will experiment with public and popular forms of speech such as blogs and oral presentation. Students should expect to do a significant amount of reading and writing in this program and be prepared to challenge their most ingrained habits and assumptions. You may never look at the world in the same way again.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 46

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in education, arts, humanities, media studies, communications, journalism, advertising and marketing.

Planning Units: Programs for Freshmen

Program Revisions

Date Revision
November 10th, 2008 Restriction against joining program winter quarter added.