Popular Culture: Theories and Practices

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Within the discipline of Cultural Studies, everybody agrees that the study of Popular Culture is one of the central topics; but if we consider what Popular Culture actually is, opinions and definitions differ immensely. Is there a specific moment when opera ceases to be Popular Culture (as it used to be for hundreds of years!) and becomes part of High Culture? Does Popular Culture reclaim opera melodies when they are used as advertising jingles or are sung in a football stadium? Does a soap opera star on a theatre stage transgress boundaries? Do such boundaries still exist? In this seminar, we will be dealing with a wide range of Cultural Theories and their intersections with Popular Culture. Theories will include Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Gender Studies, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Postmodernism etc.; after the theoretical framework has been established, students will be able and asked to apply these concepts to different fields of Popular Culture: pop music, television, fast food, magazines – to name only a few. Students should buy John Storey’s excellent book Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. An Introduction (2006. 4th edition. Athens: University of Georgia Press). A Reader with additional texts will be made available (copyshop below Sonnendeck) by the start of semester. Course requirements will be discussed in the first session.