Other Publications: One Popular Culture Text To Rule Them All

This post was published over on the Northeast Popular Culture Association site. Here's an excerpt, but be sure to follow through to the full article!

Balancing theory, historical context, and theory makes finding the right text for a popular culture course a supreme challenge. Some books offer all theory; others give the straight history (whatever that means). In various renderings of the popular course that I have taught over the last five years, I have tried no less than five different texts with various successes (and failures). This review looks at several different texts that may be useful for teaching a popular culture course.

There are a few things to note about my course that give context to the choices and critiques that follow. The course was originally designed as “Popular Culture and Media,” essentially blending popular culture and media studies. The content proved too much and the course was changed to “Popular Culture in the U.S.” This switch deemphasized media studies (though it still discusses media) and focused particularly on the United States. The course is structured to provide history, theory, and analysis of popular culture through different readings, videos, and activities while moving chronologically forward into the present.  My goal with the course is for students to come through it with a skill set that allows them to tinker under the hood of any element of popular culture they may encounter with a critical evaluative approach, but a nonjudgmental one. I developed and launched the course at North Shore Community College in Spring 2009 and taught it face-to-face until 2011. In 2012, I redeveloped it as an online course.

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