Gender, Race and Class in Contemporary Popular Culture

From celebrity “meltdowns” to political protests to furious fanboys, how do we make sense of and evaluate what’s trending on social media? What’s “neoliberalism” and what does it have to do with reality TV? How does storytelling shape our perceptions of intergenerational conflict and resistance? How do popular media shape the worlds we inhabit—and how, in turn, do our everyday practices reflect, resist, or twist these representations? This course considers cultural studies questions about media production, audience, and representation through an anti-racist feminist lens. Together, we’ll do two things at the same time: critically analyze the sometimes violent, regressive stories that pop cultural texts tell us about the world and consider what kinds of counter-readings and expressive alternatives they make possible. By emphasizing how texts and images do what they do, this course will help you acquire the skills to discern the messages about gendered, raced, and classed identities and sexualities that are embedded in contemporary pop cultural storytelling.

I play music before all of my lectures and use plenty of video content in this class. Here’s one that my students and I have discussed many times over the years: