In the 1970s, the study of art and literature in departments of Art History and English found itself overtaken and challenged by a new interest in popular culture, urban subcultures and movements of cultural resistance. But it was not only the objects of study that changed under the impact of this intellectual movement. For the emerging field of Cultural Studies, the old questions, concepts and hierarchies would not do either. So the engagement with a whole range of commercial, popular and dissident cultural forms went along with an opening to new analytical methods and theoretical frameworks and, indeed, to a new and unfamiliar vocabulary of critical terms.
This course offers an introduction to the emergence of this new field of studies and its new language. Through a survey of recent theories of cultural production and cultural meaning –– from semiotics to deconstruction and from psychoanalysis to Marxism and British Cultural Studies –– it will aim to assemble an alternative “tool kit” for understanding the material conditions, material effects and material constraints of cultural practices outside the privileged domains of art and literature.
2-credit course, beginning March 14. Open to all students. Lecture and discussion; weekly readings; occasional in class quizzes and take-home final.