Michael L. Goldberg
Explores the interaction between consumer culture and popular culture emphasizing literature, history, and theory. Stresses diverse interpretive approaches within American Studies.
Autumn 2008: We will explore the production and reception of several types of popular culture within the context of 20th century U.S. consumer culture. The course will use a "hands on" approach to studying popular culture, so be ready to get your hands dirty. We will be applying "semiotics"--the study of cultural signs--and narrative analysis to go beneath the "common sense" of popular culture texts to reveal their underlying ideological meanings. Because much of the course is dedicated to review and applying material in class that will be used on assignments, consistent attendance will greatly aid you success in the course.
Student learning goals
Ability to apply semiotic analysis to a range of popular culture texts.
Ability to apply narrative analysis to a range of popular culture texts.
Ability to apply different theoretical models of mass media studies to a range of popular culture texts and understand the process of production, distribution, and audience reception.
Greater understanding of the cultural meaning and societal impact of the new upper class and consumer culture, the O.J. Simpson media spectacle, and Sept. 11 and its aftermath.
Ability to create a multimedia narrative using semiotics about Sept. 11 and its aftermath based on research into a sub-topic.
Ability to master information literacy skills needed for short research project.
General method of instruction
Some lectures, much discussion and small group work/workshops. The course will be divided into three modules. 1. Consumer culture and the new upper class 2. The OJ Simpson Case and the Media 3. The Media in Post-9/11 America
An open-mindedness to exploring the underlying meanings to objects you may not normally think about critically is a must. Also, the basics required for upper-division work: ability to read critically and take analytical notes and the ability to write argumentative essays.
Class assignments and grading
Essays stressing analytical skills, a short research report, and a multimedia project.