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Popular Culture

Popular Culture: An Introduction

Carla Freccero
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 202
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  • Book Info
    Popular Culture
    Book Description:

    From Madonna and drag queens to cyberpunk and webzines, popular culture constitutes a common and thereby critical part of our lives. Yet the study of popular culture has been condemned and praised, debated and ridiculed. In Popular Culture: An Introduction, Carla Freccero reveals why we study popular culture and how it is taught in the classroom. Blending music, science fiction, and film, Freccero shows us that an informed awareness of politics, race, and sexuality is essential to any understanding of popular culture. Freccero places rap music, the Alien Trilogy and Sandra Cisneros in the context of postcolonialism, identity politics, and technoculture to show students how they can draw on their already existing literacies and on the cultures they know in order to think critically.Complete with a glossary of useful terms, a sample syllabus and extensive bibliography, this book is the concise introduction to the study of popular culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7164-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ONE Popular Culture: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book evolved from a course I first taught for the comparative literature program at Dartmouth College in the summer of 1992 and subsequently taught twice more in the literature department at the University of California, Santa Cruz; a representative syllabus is included in the appendix. These two contexts differed vastly, as one might expect. Dartmouth College is an elite, conservative, small, rural liberal arts college, whereas UCSC is a larger public research university in the University of California system known for its progressive, if not radical, ethos. Dartmouth might be seen to be on the front lines of the...

  5. TWO Cultural Studies, Popular Culture, and Pedagogy
    (pp. 13-32)

    In England, where cultural studies originated, its disciplinary center was sociology. Perhaps most influential to the later American development of the field was Stuart Hall, a Black sociologist who directed, for a time, the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham.¹ In its inception, cultural studies grew out of the experience of educating working-class people with a commitment to the political applications of knowledge and criticism; it was also therefore committed to a kind of theorizing and critical practice that had social change as one of its goals. It took as its object of study the everyday culture and practices...

  6. THREE Sexual Subcultures
    (pp. 33-58)

    Before turning to the ways sexuality and sexual subcultures are represented in popular media (and I take as my starting point the peculiar representation of “gay” sexuality proffered by the recent serial killer films I mention in chapter 2), I would like to provide background on the recent political struggles for sexual rights in the United States in relation to efforts to censor popular expressions of sexuality. These struggles highlight the particularly fraught relation between the state and the body.

    What follows, then, is a meditation on the question of the body and representations of the body and its relation...

  7. FOUR Identity Politics and Postcoloniality
    (pp. 59-76)

    In the preceding chapter I demonstrated some of the ways popular culture represents sexuality and sexual subcultures and the racialization of bodies and sexualities. Here I want to explore cultural productions that attempt in some way or another to reconfigure the terms of racial, sexual, and gender identity, conflict, and community in the United States. We have seen how Madonna’s work complexly interweaves these issues.Paris Is Burning(Livingston, 1990), which I will discuss below, also raises issues of the intersections of racial identity, sexuality, and gender. Before doing this, however, I will sketch some of the issues and definitions...

  8. FIVE Multiculturalism’s Migrations
    (pp. 77-98)

    In this chapter I explore new configurations of race and migration in the United States and the cultural styles that have come to be called diasporic cultures, groups of people defined in part by their relation of exile or “outsider” status within the nations in which they live (African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans). Diaspora refers originally to the exile of the Jews in the Hebrew Bible and, since, to exile from a homeland and a history of perpetual persecution and wandering. It has been subsequently taken up in a more metaphorical sense to describe exilic experience, even...

  9. SIX Technocultures
    (pp. 99-130)

    In this chapter I would like to explore cultural productions that ambivalently represent postindustrial society’s romance and disillusionment with advanced technological developments. The representations examined here present technoculture as an important dimension of both the present and the future, and construct a variety of responses, both utopian and dystopian, to that culture. Technology is the defining mark of late-twentieth-century First World existence in the popular imagination, and thus it is a particularly fruitful terrain for social and political analysis.

    The texts I am discussing, in their disillusionment with the promises of industrial society and better living through advanced technology, engage...

  10. APPENDIX: Cultural Studies and Popular Culture
    (pp. 131-134)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 135-148)
    (pp. 149-172)
    Robin Baldridge and Catherine Newman
    (pp. 173-174)
    (pp. 175-176)
    (pp. 177-192)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 193-201)
    (pp. 202-202)