ENGL 6310/7310: Popular Culture Studies

Fall 2011 | PH 300 | M 240-540

Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 | Office Hours: M 100-240; T-Th 100-240 | E-mail: david.lavery@gmail.com | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615 898-5648 | Home Page: http://davidlavery.net/

About David Lavery | About This Course | Texts | Class Members

 Course Requirements | Power Points | Websites | Agenda

Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English at MTSU (1993- ). The author of over one hundred and twenty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty three books, including The Essential Cult Television Reader and a textbook, Television Art (Blackwell) and books on Lost (2), Twin Peaks, X-Files, The Sopranos (a trilogy), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teleparody, Seinfeld, Deadwood, My So-Called Life, Gilmore Girls, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, TV Finales, and Crying. The organizer of international conferences on the Whedonverses, Lost, and The Sopranos, a founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, Critical Studies in Television, and Series/Season/Show, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany) and has been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.


About This Course

The catalog description deems this course "Major trends and significant debates in the development of popular culture theory and criticism." This incarnation of Popular Culture Studies will attempt to fulfill that promise by (1) reading and discussing a wide selection (in the Storey reader) of the best thinking about cultural theory and pop culture from the last two centuries; (2) becoming familiar with the indispensable approach known as semiotics (with the help of Roland Barthes); (3) contemplating America as a cultural phenomenon (as seen through the eyes of Daniel Boorstin); (4) exploring the "phantom empire" of movie culture; (5) tracking the wild paratext (guided by Jonathan Gray); (6) (ably assisted by Steven Johnson) learning how to defend  popular culture against its detractors.



Click on the covers to order the books from Amazon, or purchase the books from Phillips or other online booksellers.


Class Members

Mohammed Alghamdi | Lama Alharbi | Debosree Banerjee | Sandra Cavender | Charles Elmore | Dawn Hall | Tiffany Hughes | Emily James | Lisa Jass | Corine Mathis | Shellie Michael | Victoria Warenik


Power Points

Allusions of Television | American Icons | Barthes | Boorstin | Gray | Johnson  | Major Figures in Popular Culture and Cultural Studies | Feminism Power Point | Marxism | The Movies | O'Brien | The Onion | Our Books | PC Topics and Areas | Postmodernism | Semiotics | Syllabus | Teleparody | Thinking Inside the Box | Twin Peaks & X-Files Types of Television Series | Velveeta | Week 2 (The Culture & Civilization Tradition) | Week 8  (Psychoanalysis/Structural/Poststructuralism) | Week Ten (Race, Racism, and Representation)


Course Requirements

1. Either (A) Critical Essay: A 2,000 word reading/analysis/interpretation of a particular popular culture phenomenon; or  (B) A Pedagogical Pop Culture Project: a course syllabus, website, power point presentation, annotated bibliography / filmography / videography / discography, etc. Go here to see a model.25% of course grade.

2. Major Paper: A source paper of not less than 4,000 words on a popular culture subject approved by me. Recommended: A study of an American icon [go here and here for more ideas].50% of course grade. A model essay by Laura Black.

3. Class Participation25% of course grade:


Week/Meeting: 1 | 8/29/11 | Subject: Intro to the Course | Power Points: Our Books | PC Topics and Areas | Major Figures in Popular Culture and Cultural Studies

Labor Day: No Class: 9/5/11

Week/Meeting: 2 | 9/12/11 | Subject: The "Culture and Civilization" Tradition; Culturalism | Read: Storey, Parts One & Two [CTPCR Discussion Leaders: Arnold (Alharbi); Williams (Alghamdi)] | Week 2 Power Point

Week/Meeting: 3 | 9/19/11 | Subject: Semiotics: Barthes, Mythologies | Read: All of Barthes | Power Points: Semiotics | Barthes | [Discussion Leader: "Myth Today" (Warenik)]

Week/Meeting: 4 | 9/26/11 | Subject: Marxism | Storey, Part Three [CTPCR Discussion Leaders: Storey (Michael)]| Marxism Power Point | Mini-Casebook: Hall 

Week/Meeting: 5 | 10/3/01 | Subject: Boorstin, The Image | Read: All of Boorstin | Power Points: Boorstin | Mini-Casebook: Warenik 

Week/Meeting: 6 | 10/10/11 | Subject: Feminism | Read: Storey, Part Four [CTPCR Discussion Leaders: Rakow (Hall); Radway (Jass); Butler (Hughes); Geraghty (Mathis)] | Mini-Casebook: Banerjee | Feminism Power Point

Fall Break: 10/15-10/18 (No Class)

Week/Meeting: 7 | 10/24/11 | Subject: O'Brien, Phantom Empire | Read: All of O'Brien | Power Points: The Movies | O'Brien   | Mini-Casebook: Hughes

Week/Meeting: 8 | 10/31/11 | Subject: Psychoanalysis, Structuralism, and Post-Structuralism | Read: Storey, Part Five | Mini-Casebooks: Jass, Elmore | Week 8 Power Point | Critical Essay/Pedagogical Project Due

Week/Meeting: 9 | 11/7/11 | Subject: Gray, Show Sold Separately | Read: All of Gray | Power Points: Gray | Mini-Casebook: Cavendar

Week/Meeting: 10 | 11/14/11 | Subject: "Race," Racism, and Representation | Read: Storey, Part Six [CTPCR Discussion Leaders: Hall (James)] | Mini-Casebook: Mathis | Week 10 Power Point

Week/Meeting: 11 | 11/21/11 | Subject: Johnson, Everything Bad | Read: All of Johnson | Power Points: Johnson

Week/Meeting: 12 | 11/28/11 | Subject: Postmodernism | Read: Storey, Part Seven [CTPCR Discussion Leaders: Banerjee (Morris)] | Power Points: Postmodernism | Mini-Casebooks: James

Week/Meeting: 13 | 12/5/11 | Subject: Teleparody | Read: Teleparody (any ten) | Power Points:  Teleparody, The Onion | Mini-Casebook: Alharbi, Michael | Major Paper Due

Week/Meeting: 14 | 12/12/11 | Final Meeting | Subject: The Politics of the Popular | Read: Storey, Part Eight [CTPCR Discussion Leaders: Cavendar (Webster), Elmore (Bourdieu) | Mini-Casebooks: Alharbi, Alghamdi | Week 14 Power Point