C315 Advertising and Consumer Culture
Section 33907, Spring 2012
TR 1:00-2:15 PM, Classroom Office Building 203
Instructor: Jeremiah Donovan
Office: 800 East Third St. (two buildings east of Acacia)
T 2:45-3:45 PM and W 1:00-2:00 PM, or by appt. in the University Union
Starbucks (Meetings can also be held upon request in my office if a less public
forum is required)
(the best way to get in touch with me)
Textbooks and readings:
An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America
NY: Columbia UP, 2000.
*Other course readings posted under “Resources” tab on Oncourse class page
The main goal of this course is to gain a fuller understanding of advertising and consumer
culture in America.
Though we will recognize inherent global trends and influences, our
focus will be on 1) the distinct brand of consumer culture that has developed in America
and 2) the advertising culture that helps drive that consumerism.
Toward that goal, we
will chart a history of the development of consumer capitalism in America.
we will investigate the history of the advertising culture that has developed almost
Finally, and most importantly, we will interrogate the lived realities that
a consumer society dictates.
For instance, how are our everyday lives influenced by
advertising and consumer culture?
What do the things you consume say about you?
How are you insinuating yourself into larger identity groups through consumption?
much of what we think of as the “American Dream” has less to do with things like civil
liberties and democracy and more to do with consumer capitalism? Why were the World
Trade Centers attacked most prominently, even before the Pentagon was targeted?
To put it more generally, what information, ideas, and values are communicated in
advertising? In addition, from an industrial standpoint, what role does advertising play in
television, movies, magazines, and other media? How do manufacturers and retailers
create "brand-name" products, and why do we care about these brands? What do
advertisers know about consumers? These are just a few preliminary questions that show
the kinds of ways that we will investigate our own imbrications in consumer culture.
Hopefully, by class’s end, you will have a set of tools to critically question and