Syllabus 203-1 - I ntroduction to American Popular Culture...

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Introduction to American Popular Culture AMST203 Fall 2007, University of Maryland, College Park Friday: 11:30am-12:45pm Professor     Kristen Williams Email: [email protected] 07-9678 0132 Holzapfel Hall Thursday 11 AM-1 PM Other times by appointment Course Description This course is meant to act as an introduction to the study of meaning-making in everyday life. While defining “culture” can be almost as challenging as defining the “popular,” we will work closely with a variety of products including advertisements, television, film, and musical forms to consider the ways in which these types of expressive media are “made.” Because they are products of historically and spatially specific locations, popular culture forms can and do reveal much about who past generations think they were, who we think we are, and who we think others are and were. Popular culture can also reveal much about social and cultural tensions in and across time. In addition to analyzing and evaluating the means of production associated with specific popular cultural artifacts and practices, we will also consider the ways in which these practices and artifacts are consumed and used by their audiences. A second premise of this class, then, is that by engaging with music, sports, reading, TV watching, and more, people affect cultural messages and values, economic activity, institutions, and the very social relationships that underlay local, national, international and transnational communities. For most if not all of you, AMST 203 will fulfill a general education, or CORE, requirement. CORE distributive studies courses are designed to acquaint students with the content and methods of various academic disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, provide them with some breadth of knowledge and opportunities to write, and encourage them to think critically and make judgments about questions that rarely have simple "yes" and "no" answers. To do well in this course, you will need to think critically about the material. Understanding and interpretation, rather than simple memorization, are the keys to success in this course. Structure This course will meet once a week but requires online participation. The course website will act as a repository of information. Students will post their reading responses on the website, locate course materials not included in the textbooks, and access my online “lectures.” These lectures are supplementary and explanatory; they do not cover the same material as the readings. Instead, they are meant to help prepare students for the Friday discussion period. Lectures will be available each Sunday evening by 9 PM. Each student’s online participation comprises a valuable portion of their overall class participation grade. Students experiencing technical difficulties with the website must 1
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