Culture, Power, Theory
This course examines the increasing centrality of ‘culture’ in the development of advanced capitalism, oppositional social movements, and contemporary social theories. Approaching culture as simultaneously a site of domination and resistance, power and pleasure, we will focus on recent theoretical and methodological debates emerging in sociology, cultural studies, feminism, queer studies, critical race theory, and anthropology. Substantive topics of discussion will include: popular culture, especially hip hop and punk music cultures; science, technology, and ‘cyber cultures’; multiculturalism, as both corporate ideology and radical politics; and the postcolonial and transnational organization of cultural identities. Throughout the course, we will pursue the question of how the study of culture might contribute to an adequate theory of power in contemporary U.S. society. This seminar will include both faculty presentations and student-led discussions. In addition to close reading of course texts, students will be expected to write a series of short theoretical papers, and a final research project of their choosing.