American Popular Culture and Politics

Dr. Alexandra Glavanakova
Lectures: 30

Popular culture is a highly politicised domain of social life. This course draws upon an eclectic selection of television, films, advertising and cyberculture to examine the social construction of political meaning, how political ideas and ideologies are conveyed, and the limits and possibilities of an industry often controlled by political and economic elites. The focus will be on diverse types of popular culture that deal directly with political issues and others that can be read as alternative forms of political text. The course introduces a variety of critical approaches to studying popular culture: production analysis, textual analysis, audience analysis.

The following themes will be explored: representations of the political process; media, culture and politics; the politics of memory and the past; asylum, migration and refugees; war and conflict; terrorism; frontier politics; alternatives to democracy; utopia and dystopia; the individual and the state. The issue of the globalization of American popular culture will also be examined, with a particular focus of its presence in the Bulgarian context. The course will also include an examination of how such social categories as ethniticy, race, gender, class, region and sexuality are shaped and reshaped in popular culture.

The prinicipal educational aims of this course are:
– To develop skills in the political analysis of popular culture texts;
– To understand the political, economic and organizational processes shaping popular culture;
– To promote an awareness of debates surrounding the effects of media and popular culture;
– To develop skills of interpretation, appraisal and analysis of political sources;
– To promote skills of group discussion, team work, oral presentation, research and analytical writing.

– Class participation: 25%
– Assignments: 25%
– Term project: 50 %

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