What is popular culture? How does popular culture communicate with us through media? Out of what historical, commercial, and creative contexts does popular culture emerge? 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 and functions in our society. First, we engage four key domains that construct popular culture’s meanings in order to empower students with the critical skills to understand cultural texts. Second, we consider how popular culture has both shaped and reflected broader social power dynamics in the United States. Finally, we analyze popular culture in detailed written arguments and cogent oral presentations. 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.
- Describe popular culture texts from a Communication Studies perspective and define and utilize key media analysis terms.
- Explain the relationship between popular culture texts and their socio-historical contexts.
- Analyze the industries that produce popular culture texts.
- Analyze popular culture texts’ power to represent and shape social power and cultural identities.
- Critique and construct arguments about popular culture and/as communication through research, writing, and cultural engagement.
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:
Course utilizes group projects for some assignments.
Textbooks and Materials
Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.
- Communication and Popular Culture, 3rd Ed.
Marx, Nick; Saunders, Mark; North, Kurtis; and Wright, Amanda
- Netflix subscription/access
Not available at the CSU Bookstore
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.