Teaching: Contemporary Cultural Theory


“Theory” sounds like a heavy concept, but as you’ll learn in this course, theory refers to ways of thinking and writing about media and society. It is a toolbox that allows us to explore, critique, and speculate on the culture we produce and consume. Throughout the term we will discuss foundational ideas in media studies and humanities scholarship, and relate these ideas to current social issues and media productions. In the assignments for this class, you will learn to grapple with difficult ideas and hone your critical reading and writing skills.

Theory works. It is not the opposite of practice; it is an intellectual endeavor that shapes how we talk about the world and lets us trace potential avenues for changing it. The recommended readings for each week are examples of how cultural theory works in the world. Explore these to see how the theoretical concepts explored in class are taken up in mainstream cultural discussions. They are also good models for what will be your final paper assignment.

Theory is global. It provides us with frameworks for how to live in a world of difference. As we explore theoretical concepts, think of how these relate to your lived experience and how they might relate to those with different experiences. Class screenings feature media productions from Cuba, France, India, Iran, Japan, and Mexico; these will help us see theory in a global context. Look out for news items every week that speak to how people around the world struggle with the issues we address in class and be sure to bring them up in our discussions.

Contact me for complete syllabus.