171 | CCN: 46097

The Problem of Mass Culture and the Rhetoric of Social Theory

Instructor: Felipe Gutterriez,

4 Units

In this course we will examine the theories of mass society and popular culture that have emerged amid the complex social, cultural, economic, and industrial transformations of society that have occurred since the late 19th century. We will examine these theories as responses to the classic "problems" of mass culture, modern society as the site of emancipation or alienation, the role of theory as symptom or therapy, sources of social solidarity in a modern society, and the interplay between heterogeneity/homogeneity, unconscious/hyperconscious, and depth/surface that characterizes contemporary society.

The readings in this course consist of the work of a number of social and cultural theorists. I plan to make their theories more accessible through our collective consideration of a variety of cultural artifacts. To do well in this course you will have to read a lot of material carefully, be prepared to participate in class discussion, and be willing to work together on class presentations.

Required Textbook(s):
Course Reader
Handouts available in class or on class website.
Reading: There is a substantial amount of reading in this course. Mastery of these concepts and this style of argument will require a careful and thoughtful reading of the material.
Writing: There will be midterm and final essays.
Class attendance: Class attendance is required. I consider attendance fundamental to the pedagogy of my classes. I will be taking attendance.