SPCM 100 - Communication and Popular Culture (GT-AH1)

  • 3 credits
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What is popular culture? How does popular culture communicate with us? What are the social and cultural effects of the messages and values of popular culture? These broad questions fuel our work in this course. Communication and Popular Culture presents an introduction to U.S. popular culture, with an emphasis on its forms, messages, and effects on our society.

First, we engage four key methodological approaches taken by communication studies scholars as a means to empower students with the critical skills to understand popular culture texts more mindfully. Second, we consider how popular culture has both shaped and reflected the history and culture of the United States. Finally, we survey representations of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and class throughout the twentieth century to the present, examining what they mean to consumers of pop culture.

Because this is an All-University Core Curriculum course, we have specific objectives: to place the history of popular culture within a broader context of U.S. history; to analyze a variety of texts that loosely fall into the category “arts and humanities,” and to suggest particular methods of critical thinking.

This course meets the All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC) requirements for Arts/Humanities (Category 3B) and is approved under gtPathways in the content area of Arts and Expression (GT-AH1).

This course can be applied toward:

Important Information

Course utilizes group projects for some assignments.

Sec. 803 is the only section that requires purchase of a textbook.

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Communication and Popular Culture (sec. 803 ONLY), 3rd Ed.
    Mark & Saunders
    ISBN: 978-1524955120


Mark Saunders


Mark earned his Bachelor of Science at Southern Illinois University in speech communication. He spent the next five years as a human resources manager for a real estate investment trust. Subsequently, he enrolled at Colorado State University and received his Master of Arts in communication studies. He currently teaches Public Speaking and Public Argumentation. In conjunction with teaching Public Argumentation, he works with the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University. Also, he enjoys researching the portrayal of masculinity in popular culture.

Elizabeth Sink
Elizabeth Sink


Elizabeth Sink hails from the Midwest, where she graduated in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Communication Studies from Aquinas College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She completed her master's degree in Communication Studies here at Colorado State University in 2006 and has been teaching here ever since.

Her current scholarship, teaching, program and curriculum development considers our current cultural/socio/political landscape and advances progressive means of communication between differing religious/non-religious people. She is interested in the ways civically-based higher education affects students’ motivation for involvement in their communities, perceptions regarding their own biased and/or polarized views, understanding self-efficacy, and critical thinking processes.

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