This course deals with theories and practices of contemporary popular (media) culture, focusing on issues of diversity.
As a theoretical foundation, we situate the concept of popular culture in the broader cultural field and we discuss cultural hierarchies and notions of quality.
Then, we take a closer look at the tradition of Cultural Studies, where much research on popular culture can be situated. We discuss the history of this tradition and the themes it addresses.
Based on the model of the 'circuit of culture', we subsequently analyse three aspects of popular culture.
First, we take a look at production: its industrial and commercial nature, convergence and globalisation, and issues of diversity in production contexts.
Second, we analyse media 'texts' and their characteristics. A central concept here is representation, the creation of meaning by the use of images and signs. Among other things, we look at the representation of diversity, in terms of ethnicity, gender and sexuality.
Third, we discuss reception, in particular the qualitative 'ethnographic' research tradition within the Cultural Studies approach. Again, diversity is a key issue here: how do different (minority) audiences deal with popular culture?
All of this is illustrated with examples and concrete cases from different media and fields of popular culture.
Beside issues of diversity, one key question underlying this course concerns the impact of digitisation on the three aspects of popular culture: has the ‘audience’ also become a ‘producer’? What is the ‘text’ in the digital age?