American Culture and Consumption (T7052)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

You'll study:

  • America's cultural responses to the shift from a producer to consumer economy over the 20th century
  • how stories, novels, plays, art, film, adverts and social science texts in their historical and social contexts reflect changing attitudes to American consumer and material culture
  • the extent to which American culture is a culture of consumption and at what point, and under what conditions, a critique of consumption manifests itself in the cultural sphere.

To develop an understanding of consumer culture and attitudes to money and materialism in the cultural sphere, you'll use readings such as:

  • Marx's commodity fetishism
  • Freud's Civilization and its Discontents
  • Veblen's theory of conspicuous consumption
  • Frankfurt School theorists' work on the culture industry.

You'll examine changing ideas of what constitutes culture and the extent to which this changed notions of American democracy, citizenship, and identity as shown in media and cultural forms.

You'll also focus on the extent that mass production, technological change and the growth of mass consumption might be viewed differently according to class, race and gender.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.