14211 Popular Culture 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Cultural Studies

Prerequisites: Two of the following courses: Society, Culture and Representation; Theories and Approaches in Cultural Studies; Anthropological and Sociological Approaches to Cultural Studies; Multiculturalism in Israel

The course is based on a reader edited by Motti Regev and Dafna Hirsch.

Popular culture includes a wide variety of cultural forms, means of expression and patterns of activity. Films and popular music, advertisements and fashion trends, television dramas and soccer games – the contents and products of popular culture sometimes belong to the field of art, while on other occasions, the term ‘consumer goods’ fits them better. In addition, the products of popular culture are intertwined. Television broadcasts soccer, soccer players advertise fashion brands, commercials include pop-rock hits as do film soundtracks, and actors are ‘stars’ and the subjects of gossip columns. Also notable is the fact that the products of popular culture are associated with the cultural industries; that is, with the output of corporations. This course offers focused acquaintance with some of the major research issues on popular culture. Given the diversity of phenomena, the course concentrates on some central topics and aspects. For some of these, it presents classic articles along with case studies and examples.

Topics: Popular culture, consumer culture, art: “Popular culture” vs. “mass culture”; popular culture as consumer culture; popular culture as art; the social-historical construction of ‘the popular’. Historical and anthropological perspectives. Analysis of products and texts: Mythologies; Hollywood cinema and stardom; the World Wide Web; Disney; fashion; pop. Production and institutional context: General social context; the cultural industries; supply and demand; globalization. Audiences and consumption: Consumption practices; between consumption and participation: “talk shows” and “reality”; differential modes of consumption mad meaning making.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.