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Pop Culture Literacy

Hop on Pop... Culture.

Course Description

Pop culture's got a weird reputation in America. Most people like it (by definition), but those same people also seem to be a little guilty about it: TV rots your brain, video games make you violent and nerdy, pop music all sounds the same, comedians are foul-mouthed, and...you get the picture.

But we here in the Republic of Shmoop believe that everything's worth thinking about in a smart, critical way. And you can't deny that pop culture is kind of a big deal. Why wouldn't you want to understand something that we're saturated with almost every waking second of our lives?

In this 18-week course we're gonna dig into popular culture in a serious way by thinking about Hollywood movies, rap, The Daily Show, Family Guy, Facebook, Call of Duty, Reddit, and other pop culture titans the same way we approach literature—all to see what we can learn about society, human behavior, and the kinds of art that we're soaking our brains in.

Technology Requirements

  • Microsoft Office, Google Docs, or another word processing program
  • Either a camera or a scanner
  • All other work can be done via the Shmoop website.

Required Skills

  • Some experience with critical analysis.
  • Other than that, if you've ever read a newspaper, seen an advertisement, watched an episode of TV, gone out to a movie, listened to music, played a video game, or surfed the Internet... you're good to go.

FYI: Pop Culture can get nasty—we're talking mean, obscene, violent, vulgar, and everything in between. Some of the readings in this course include not-so-PG material. Everything we assign is done so for an educational purpose, but that doesn't mean it's Disney clean.

Course Breakdown

Purchase units individually
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    Unit 1. TV and Advertising: Reading Between the Lies

    There's no question that Americans are generally way more literate in TV-watching than in book-reading. In this unit, we'll think about the TV phenomenon along with advertising and commercials, which are starting to look more and more like little mini TV shows in themselves.

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    Unit 2. Movies and Music: Fame On!

    Hollywood and pop music, together at last. Get ready to think about movies and tunes like never before.

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    Unit 3. The Internet: The (Anti?) Social Network

    In this unit, we're going to dig into all the ways that our lives got flip-turned upside-down by the Internet and what it means to be constantly connected to other people through our computers—for better or worse.

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    Unit 4. Infotainment: Comedy and the News

    It's time for the odd couple: comedy and the news. In this unit, you'll see just how much they have in common.

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    Unit 5. Reading: Is It Still a Thing?

    Yep: books are a form of pop culture—and have been for a while. In this unit, we'll talk about the medium, focusing on how things have changed in the Ebook world.

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    Unit 6. Video Games and Remixes: Audience Participation

    For our last unit, we'll be tackling video games and everyone's favorite: the remix.

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