Culture And Cultural Studies - Syllabus
Culture, Syllabus and Course Outline - uvm.edu
Adorno on Culture
Media and Cultural Studies -
of Culture, Media and Technology (core theory) - Syllabus
in Emerging Media - Syllabus
Syllabus - CACM 21010 - Dr. Jennifer Maxwell
A Baseline Definition of Culture
People learn culture. That, we suggest, is culture's essential feature. Many qualities of
human life are transmitted geneticallyan infant's desire for food, for example, is
triggered by physiological characteristics determined within the human genetic code. An
adult's specific desire for milk and cereal in the morning, on the other hand, cannot be
explained genetically; rather, it is a learned (cultural) response to morning hunger.
Culture, as a body of learned behaviors common to a given human society, acts rather like
a template (i.e., it has predictable form and content), shaping behavior and consciousness
within a human society from generation to generation. So culture resides in all learned
behavior and in some shaping template or consciousness prior to behavior as well (that is,
a "cultural template" can be in place prior to the birth of an individual
This primary concept of a shaping template and body
of learned behaviors might be further broken down into the following categories, each of
which is an important element of cultural systems:
systems of meaning, of which language is primary
ways of organizing society, from kinship groups to states and multi-national corporations
the distinctive techniques of a group and their characteristic products
Several important principles follow from this definition of culture:
If the process of learning is an essential characteristic of culture, then teaching
also is a crucial characteristic. The way culture is taught and reproduced is itself an
important component of culture.
Because the relationship between what is taught and what is learned is not absolute
(some of what is taught is lost, while new discoveries are constantly being made), culture
exists in a constant state of change.
Meaning systems consist of negotiated agreementsmembers of a human society
must agree to relationships between a word, behavior, or other symbol and its
corresponding significance or meaning. To the extent that culture consists of systems of
meaning, it also consists of negotiated agreements and processes of negotiation.
Sociology of Culture, Course Outline - uvm.edu -syllabus
Douglas E. Foley, "The Great American Football Ritual," from Learning Capitalist
Culture: Deep in the Heart of Tejas, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990,
Kathryn Fox, "Real Punks and Pretenders: The Social Organization of
Counterculture," Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 16, No. 3, Oct. 1987, pp.
David Brooks, "Business Life" (on "Burlington, Vermont and other Latte
Towns"), from Bobos in Paradise: the New Upper Class and How They Got There (Simon
& Schuster: 2000), pp. 103-112.
What is Culture and Why Does it Matter?
The Arnoldian Answer
NEIL POSTMAN, Chapter 1 from Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can
Improve Our Future, 1999: .nytimes.com/books/first/p/postman-bridge.html
Matthew Arnold, excerpts from Culture and Anarchy in John Storey (ed.), Cultural Theory
and Popular Culture: A Reader 2nd edition (Univ. of Georgia Press, 1998) pp. 7-12.
The Anthropological Answer
Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight," in Rethinking,
pp. 239-277. (from The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973.)
Lawrence W. Levine, "William Shakespeare and the American People: A Study in Cultural
Transformation," in Rethinking, pp. 157-197.
Critical Theory and Culture
Anthony Giddens, "Conclusion," from New Rules of Sociological Method, (1st
edition), pp. 155-161.
Raymond Williams, "Culture" from Marxism and Literature, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1977, pp. 11-20.
Richard Johnson, "What is Cultural Studies Anyway?" Social Text, Winter 1986/87,
Gina Marchetti, "Action-Adventure as Ideology," in Ian Angus & Sut Jhally
(eds.), Cultural Politics in Contemporary America, New York: Routledge, 1989, pp. 182-197
Raymond Williams, "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory," in
Rethinking, pp. 407-423.
T. J. Jackson-Lears, "The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and
Possibilities." The American Historical Review, 90:3, June 1985, pp. 567-593.
The Analysis of Form: Semiotics, Structuralism, and Ideology
Semiotics and Media Web Site, .uvm.edu/~tstreete/semiotics_and_ads/index.html
Student semiotic analyses: Hanna Gregory, Brita Wanger, and Jeff Henry.
Roland Barthes, "Written Clothing," in Rethinking, pp. 432-445.
Class and Culture
Video, Media Education Foundation, "Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working
E. P. Thompson, "Preface," from The Making of the English Working Class
(Vintage: 1966), pp. 9-14.
John Berger, "The Suit and the Photograph," in Rethinking, pp. 424-431.
Roy Rosenzweig, "The Rise of the Saloon," in Rethinking, pp. 121-156
Stanley Aronowitz, "Working Class Culture in the Electronic Age," in Ian Angus
& Sut Jhally (eds.), Cultural Politics in Contemporary America, New York: Routledge,
1989, pp. 135-150.
E. P. Thompson, "Time, Work-discipline, and Industrial Capitalism," Past and
Present, No. 38, 1967, pp. 56-97.
Paul DiMaggio, "Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth Century Boston: The Creation
of an Organizational Base for High Culture in America," in Rethinking, pp. 374-397
Video: Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/Power in Rock Video (written & directed by Sut Jhally)
Thomas Streeter, Nicole Hintlian, Samantha Chipetz, and Susanna Callender, "A Web
Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose,"
John Berger, Chapter 3 of Ways of Seeing, New York: Penguin/BBC, 1972, pp. 45-64.
Janice Radway, "Interpretive Communities and Variable Literacies: the Functions of
Romance Reading," in Rethinking, pp. 465-486.
Rachel Bowlby, Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing, and Zola, NY: Methuen,
1985, pp. 1-34.
Race and Ethnicity
Video: Stuart Hall, "Race, the Floating Signifier"
Michael Omi, "In Living Color: Race and American Culture," in Ian Angus &
Sut Jhally (eds.), Cultural Politics in Contemporary America, New York: Routledge, 1989,
Ellen Seiter, "Different Children, Different Dreams: Racial Representation in
Advertising," Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 14, No. 1, Winter 1990, pp.
Thorstein Veblen, excerpts regarding "Conspicuous Consumption," from The Theory
of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, 1953 .
Susan G. Davis, "Shopping," in Richard Maxwell (ed.), Culture Works: the
Political Economy of Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 2001, pp. 163-196.
Colin Campbell, "Modern Autonomous Imaginative Hedonism," pp. 77-95, and
"Conclusion," pp. 202-227, from The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern
Consumerism, Basil Blackwell, 1987.
Rosalind Williams, "The Dream World of Mass Consumption," in Rethinking,pp.
Culture, Power, and Identity
Ira Glass, "Family Physics: Act One. Occam's Razor." This is a segment of an NPR
radio show called This American Life. There are two ways to listen, online at
126.96.36.199/ra/214.ram or by paying four dollars and downloading the show into your iPod
at this link. In either case, listen to the first segment ("Act One") which runs
from about 7 minutes to 38 minutes.
Sut Jhally, "'Free at Last': Sponsorship, Fanship & Fascism"
Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?" in Rethinking, pp. 446-464.
Stuart Hall, "Minimal Selves," in Gray and McGuigan (eds.), Studying Culture: An
Introductory Reader (New York: Edward Arnold, 1993), pp. 134-138.
Stuart Hall, "Culture, Community, Nation," Cultural Studies, Oct. 1 1993, v. 7
n. 3, pp. 349-363.
Adorno on Culture
Instructor: Christopher Cutrone
Adorno on Culture Industry: Critical Theory of Art as Social Subjectivity
Instructor: Chris Cutrone (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theodor W. Adorno has been best known for his scathing critique of culture
industry. What is usually missed is that Adornos critique of 20th Century
cultural forms was dialectical, concerned with their critical potential for both
emancipation and domination, and sought to comprehend modern practices of both
hermetic art and popular culture, implicating reflexively the
categories and concerns of his own cultural criticism, and thus anticipating issues in
post-modernism. For Adorno, reflecting critically upon the significance of
modern aesthetic forms such as those of the media of cinema, radio, television (and now,
the internet) involves the critical theory of the viewer/listener/subject, common to both
high art and culture industry.
In this course we address the Frankfurt School critical theory of the historical
transformations of experience and aesthetic subjectivity in modern social life in context,
reading works of the 1920s-30s by Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin, and then
focusing on works by Adorno in considering the analytical and explanatory as well as
critical power of certain enduring if problematic and contested categories such as
commodification and democratization for a dialectic of modern
forms of art and culture as forms of social subjectivity.
Adorno, Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords [Columbia Univ. Press, 1998 / 2005:
ISBN 0231076355 (1998) / 023113505X (2005)]
Adorno, The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture [Routledge, 2002: ISBN
Adorno, Essays on Music [Univ. of California Press, 2002: ISBN 0520231597]
Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. Edmund
Jephcott [Stanford Univ. Press, 2002: ISBN 0804736332]
Siegfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament [Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1995]
Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness [Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971]
Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution (1924) [Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. Michigan Press, 1960]
Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader [New York: Norton, 1978]
Intention of the course:
This will be a reading-intensive course focusing on works by Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69)
elaborating the concept of culture industry, a category of Frankfurt School
Critical Theory for characterizing the social-historical context for the development and
transformations of artistic forms and aesthetic subjectivity in the 20th Century. The
category of culture industry will be considered through a sustained reading of
Adornos writings on popular culture. Additional course readings will be selected
from among Weimar- and Nazi-era writings by Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer.
We will address the origins of Adornos thought in what has been termed
Western Marxism (contrasted with Eastern, or Russian-Soviet
Marxism), in the context of issues of developments of mass society in the 20th
Century. We will consider the seminal debate between Adorno and Benjamin on the social
significance of modern popular cultural forms that continued to inform Adornos
subsequent elaboration of a dialectic of modern aesthetic form as social form. We will
evaluate the coherence, the analytical and explanatory as well as critical power for
present-day, post-20th Century social life, of the attempt at a dialectic of culture
industry, with such attendant critical concepts in Adornos writings as
authoritarian personality, eclipse of the individual, etc.,
considered as being not merely negative or pejorative, but grasping emergent
social-historical formation and its actual, determinate possibilities for transformation
and emancipation. The latter part of the course will focus on Adornos work as
exemplary of such a dialectic.
Note on Frankfurt School Critical Theory and Cultural Studies:
Frankfurt School Critical Theory developed after the failed and betrayed revolutions of
1917-19 in Russia, Germany and elsewhere, and sought to develop upon Marxist thought for a
dialectic of 20th Century social forms. Frankfurt School critical theorists such as Adorno
were concerned with how social discontents found expression through forms of the
reconstitution of domination after struggles for emancipation were defeated, failed, or
gave rise to highly ambiguous, contradictory and paradoxical outcomes.
Frankfurt School thought has served as an important if ambivalent foundation for the
development of popular cultural studies in the aftermath of the 1960s. Perhaps the most
widely read work in this founding tradition of cultural studies is the chapter on
The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception from the book by
Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments (1944-47), a
book which became influential for the post-WWII generations political discontents,
and whose themes were elaborated in Marcuses writings of the 60s such as
However, in the subsequent development of cultural studies, especially after the ebbing of
the radicalism of the social upheavals of the 1960s-70s, Adornos work in
particular has suffered obscurity. Cultural criticism after the 1960s has taken a cue from
Frankfurt School Critical Theorys attention to so-called cultural determinants of
social-historical continuity and change. But since Adornos critique of culture
industry has been mistaken for an elitist rejection of popular culture, it remained a
stumbling block to the intention of discovering an authentic democratic and egalitarian
basis for the appeal of modern popular cultural forms. Since the 80s, cultural
studies approaches have emphasized the production of meaning in reception, in contrast to
the formal analysis of cultural objects, which emphasizes problems of subjectivity.
This course will consider the continued relevance of the latter approach to problems of
culture and society provided by Frankfurt School Critical Theory, especially through the
work of Adorno, which seeks to apprehend, explore and socially-historically specify
fundamental problems of subjectivity in transformations of the nature of social equality
and democracy that might otherwise be taken for granted and naturalized, for a dialectic
of emancipation and domination that constitutes social modernity.
Media and Cultural Studies -
Dr. Ted Friedman
What are the political dimensions of popular culture? How does culture reflect, influence,
and embody structures of power?
Where does hegemony end and resistance begin? This class will engage the interdisciplinary
field of Cultural Studies, which attempts to understand the relationship between culture
and politics. Well be reading founding theoretical texts, current scholarship, and
works which attempt to translate theory into action. Well address a range of media,
from film and television to music, computer games and romance novels. Well look at
multiple, intersecting structures of power, including class, nation, gender, and race.
Class readings will include books, a coursepack of articles, and news items distributed
via the class email list.
Thomas Frank, Whats the Matter With Kansas?
Graeme Turner, British Cultural Studies: An Introduction
Michael Denning, Culture in the Age of Three Worlds
Suzanna Walters, Material Girls
Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States
Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large
Janice Radway, Reading the Romance
Susan Douglas et al, The Mommy Myth
Allan Badiner, ed., Mindfulness in the Marketplace
Cary Nelson, Manifesto of a Tenured Radical
Craig Seligman, Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me
Naomi Klein, No Logo.
of Culture, Media and Technology (core theory)
CCT 797: Jeffrey Peck
Texts ordered: T. Eagleton, Literary Theory. An Introduction; C. Belsey, Critical
Practice; M. Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. The first two texts must be read,
although they will not be discussed specifically. I encourage you to read them before
class begins. The rest of the texts will be on electronic reserve in the Lauinger Library
under my name.
Week 1, Introduction
Week 2, (Em)Powering/ Disciplining/Defining the Discipline of Cultural Studies
Texts: M. Foucault, Docile Bodies in Discipline and Punish and The
Subject and Power; L. Grossberg, C. Nelson, P. Treicher, Cultural
Studies: An Introduction, in Cultural Studies; L. Grossberg, Cultural Studies:
Whats in a Name?; D. Bathrick, Cultural Studies.
Week 3, Authors, Texts, Readers/Audiences and the Practices of Interpretation
Texts: M. Foucault, What is an Author?; R. Barthes, From Work to
Text; W. Iser, Interaction Between Text and Reader; S. Fish,
Literature and the Reader: Affective Stylistics in Is There a Text in This
Class?; R. Palmer, Toward Reopening the Question: What is Interpretation? and
Thirty Theses on Interpretation.(on hermeneutics)
Week 4, Historical, Social, Political Contexts and Interests: Ideology, Hegemony, and the
Texts: K. Marx, The German Ideology, in The Grundrisse; F. Fanon, On
National Culture in The Wretched of the Earth; A. Gramsci, Ideology and
Ideological State Apparatuses; J. Habermas, Knowledge and Human
Interests; B. Anderson, Imagined Communities (Ch.1-3); P. Bourdieu, Reproduction in
Education, Society and Culture (selections).
Week 6, Race and Ethnicity
Texts: F. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks; b. hooks, Eating the Other:
Desire and Resistance; H.L. Gates, The Signifying Monkey (Intro., Part I); S. Hall,
Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities; G. Anzaldua, The
Homeland, Aztlán and Towards a New Consciousness in Borderlands/La
Frontera; S. Gilman, Black Bodies, White Bodies, in Race, Writing and the
Difference It Makes; Trin Minh Ha, Woman/Native/Other (Ch. 2, 3).
Week 8, (Post)Colonialism
Texts: E. Said, Orientalism (selections); G. Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?;
H.Bhaba, Interrogating Identity; and The Postcolonial and the
Postmodern: the Question of Agency; C. Mohanty, Under Western Eyes: Feminist
Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.
Week 10, Gender and Sexuality
Texts: S. Freud, Introduction, The Interpretation of Dreams and Three
Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; J. Lacan, The Mirror Stage and
The Function of the Letter; M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1;
E.K. Sedgwick, Introduction and The Epistemology of the Closet; D.
Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto; J. Butler, Gender Trouble (selections).
Week 12, Semiotics and (Post)Structuralism
Texts: F. de Saussure,Course in General Linguistics; R. Barthes, The
Structuralist Activity and Mythologies (selections); C-L. Strauss, The
Structural Study of Myth;
J. Culler, Structuralist Poetics (Ch. 1, 2); J. Derrida, Structure, Sign, and Play
in the Discourse of the Human Sciences in Writing and Difference; M. Foucault,
The Discourse on Language; J. Harari, Critical Factions/Critical
Fictions,(Introduction) in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist
Week 14, Technology and Representation
Texts: W. Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction; M.
Horkheimer and T. Adorno, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass
Deception; J. Habermas, The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article; L.
Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema; J. Johnston and F. Kittler,
Friedrich A. Kittler Essays (Intro, Ch. 1); R. Debray, Media Manifestos (selections); H.M.
Enzensburger, Constituents of a Theory of Media; J. Baudrillard, The
Precession of Simulacra.
Comparative Studies in
Emerging Media - Syllabus
In the past ten years, the expansion of the internet and the digitization of culture
have vastly changed the way Americans, and people all over the world, share information.
Libraries of data can now be accessed and exchanged instantaneously from terminals around
the globe. Any blogger with a keyboard can weigh in on the issues of our times to an
and hope to build a readership based on nothing other than strength of ideas. Digital
production technologies make the tools of the Hollywood pros available to anybody with a
Mac. And new models of open source software distribution challenge the
inequities of the global capitalist economy.
But if new media technology today offers a host of utopian promises, it also inspires
dystopian fears: of technology making jobs obsolete, of ubiquitous governmental and
corporate surveillance, of the consequences of the pervasive digital divide between the
info-haves and -have-nots.
Meanwhile, the American media landscape is in the midst of major transitions:
Traditional news-gathering organizations have been challenged by bloggers, who, scouring
the net in their pajamas, are often more informed than the high-powered journalists
with the greatest insider access.
Television networks continue to lose market share to cable, and now have begun selling
episodes through DVD, pay per view, and iTunes.
Movie studios now make over two-thirds of their grosses from DVD sales rather than box
office receipts. Box office declined 5% in the US in 2005, as studios began discussing the
option of releasing films simultaneously in theaters and on DVD, which could lead to the
end of the American custom of going to the movies.
CD sales have been dropping for years, but the music industry now makes billions on
ringtone sales, and Apples iPod has become on of the most successful consumer
products in global history.
Even as the public sphere grows more capacious, the ownership of production and
distribution grows more concentrated, as a small number of multinational corporations more
powerful than many nation-states continue to expand their mass media oligopolies.
Moores Law states that the pace of growth in computing power continuously
accellerates. Its not surprising, then, that the pace of technological change
continues to pulse faster and faster.
In the thick of the moment, how can we gain perspective on the present, and insight into
the future? One way is to turn to the past, to look at our circumstances in the light of
earlier transitional moments. Examining the introduction of the telegraph can help us gain
perspective on the rise of the internet. At the same time, studying our projections of the
future can also help us
understand our present obsessions.
This class, then, will bounce between the past, present and future. At the same time, it
will engage a range of methodologies, including cultural studies, social history,
journalism, futurism, science studies, science fiction, blogging and Buddhist philosophy.