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Introduction to Cultural Studies

ENGL 095.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

This course will combine readings in diverse fields to explore the concept of culture. Since the term of "culture" informs our notions of society and of identity, we will try to discover new ways of thinking about how our personal and collective experience is organized. Starting from an analysis of different concepts of "culture", we will explore the relation between disciplines such as history, anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis and literary studies. We will concentrate on a few clearly defined topics such as power, value, exchange, commodification so as to understand better the social production of value and its connection with personal or collective agency. We will begin by introducing the tools we will be using, such as definitions of "culture" as a range of artistic practices and wider social processes, or oppositions between "high" and "low" or popular culture. In following weeks, we will concentrate on a variety of themes such as the body, the gift, incest, cultural capital, varieties of religious experience and the critique of universalism. Bibliography: Mark Shell, Children of the Earth Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its discontents Slavoj Zizek, Looking Awry, An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through popular culture Roland Barthes, Mythologies and The Eiffel Tower Ezra Pound, A Guide to Kulchur Simon During, ed. The Cultural Studies Reader Michel Foucault, The Foucault Reader Jacques Derrida, Given Time Requirements for the course include at least one oral presentation (it can be in a group) and three short papers of about five pages each, based upon the readings you have done, and a final paper of about fifteen pages. No final exam.