Media and film studies

Theory Taste and Trash A

Module code: V3051
Level 5
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module introduces cultural studies students to theories of good taste and popular culture. It gives a historically-­rooted account of how the study of popular culture came to be established in British higher education, and considers the key theoretical approaches that helped to shape those studies. The module explores the meeting of popular culture and 'the academy', and the intriguing questions it continues to pose concerning hierarchies of taste, questions of value, and definitions of educational worth.

A series of lectures will offer you a historical overview and an introduction to the influence of key writers, theorists and approaches, while the module seminars will encourage you to engage critically with significant texts in the field (from writers such as Hall, Bourdieu and Bakhtin). You will test the interpretive frameworks these texts offer by undertaking some case study analyses of contemporary popular cultural texts and practices (in fields such as television, music, the leisure industries and youth culture).

Module learning outcomes

  • Deploy critical analyses when dealing with conceptual and theoretical approaches to popular culture and evaluate the appropriateness of such approaches.
  • Identify, analyse and evaluate issues and questions relating to theories of popular culture and concepts of taste and value and apply such theories to a range of different contexts of study.
  • Develop a sustained argument in written form that engages relevant critical theory in an analysis outside of that which it was originally encountered.
  • Critically engage with the history of the relationship between popular culture and its academic study.