ENAM 484:Our objectives this spring are, in some sense, quite simple; I hope to continue the work we began last semester, developing the intellectual and technical skills for reading American Culture(s) and publishing our work on the web.
How, exactly, we're going to do that isn't quite as clear. The syllabus at this point suggests a kind of rough design. We begin with Stephen Fjellman's Vinyl Leaves, one of the best general introductions to American Popular culture I know. Then we move to a series of theoretical readings focused on Television as Popular Culture, partly on the assumption that your familiarity with the medium gives you a certain purchase on the theory, a basis for evaluating their plausibility and utility. After that we spend four weeks looking at popular culture at two crucial historical junctures, the turn of the century and the Depression. The idea here is, again, to gain some distance, to see the Popular Culture we know now from an historical perspective that might serve to de-familiarize it. In the following two weeks, we go through a series of readings in Contemporary popular culture, on everything from shopping centers to teenage dress.
After all this, we'll turn our attention to your individual projects. The subject of these projects will be up to you; my hope is that you'll chose an important aspect of popular culture, one deserving your time and attention and capable of showing your knowledge, analytical skills, and imagination -- as well as your ability to work in the medium of the web.
As an added feature of this course, I'm going to ask that each of you give me one day's worth of labor during the semester devoted to something related to the American Studies Program. As soon as I know what this might be, I'll let you know.