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HISTORY

HIST-130
History of American Popular Culture (3)

Course Level: Undergraduate

This course explores the origins and cultural politics of American popular culture from the rise of commercial entertainment in the nineteenth century through the 1990s. Course readings introduce students to the cultural history of minstrelsy, circuses, film, radio, and television as commodities and as expressions of identity and community affiliation. Close attention is paid to key theoretical issues, including how popular culture has informed ideas about race and national identity over time, with consideration of how American popular forms have been increasingly created and deployed by corporations for commercial profit, but also used and often recreated by audiences. Finally, the course explores the global dimensions of American popular culture and questions of authenticity, imperialism, and globalization. The course requires intensive reading in history and cultural studies and active class participation. Usually offered every fall.