Media and film studies

Theory, Taste and Trash

Module code: V3052
Level 5
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module aims to introduce students to two related issues, namely:
a) a historically-rooted account of how the study of popular culture came to be established in British higher education and of some of the key theoretical approaches that helped to shape those studies
b) an exploration of how the bringing together of popular culture and ‘the academy’ has and continues to pose intriguing problems around hierarchies of taste, questions of value, and definitions of educational worth.

A series of lectures will offer students both a historical overview of those issues and an introduction to the influence of key writers, theorists and approaches, while the module seminars would help students to engage with particularly significant and talismanic texts (from writers such as Hall, Bourdieu and Bakhtin) in the field and also to test out the interpretive frameworks they offer by undertaking some case study analyses of contemporary popular cultural texts and practices (in fields such as television, popular music, the leisure industries and youth culture).

Module learning outcomes

  • Critically engage with the history of the relationship between popular culture and its academic study.
  • 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.