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

  • 3 credits

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.

Course Objectives

  • 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).

Important Information

Course utilizes group projects for some assignments.

Textbooks and Materials

Section 801


  • Communication & Popular Culture Coursebook, 4th Ed. (2024)
    Marx, Saunders, Hughes
    ISBN: 9798765790243
    Purchasing this coursebook is required. Students can get either the hard copy (9798385112593) of the textbook or the ebook (9798765790243) version for this course. If that is too tricky to coordinate with the Bookstore, you can just list the ebook, as this is an online course and the ebook version costs a little less.

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


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.