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AG Popular Culture

Cultural studies analysis of pop-culture phenomena.

The 'popular' is gaining ground as a significant topic of analysis, side-by-side with the growing emphasis on cultural studies that is spurring on a reorientation within the humanities and social sciences. As the normative standard that traditionally drew stark distinctions between 'high' culture and pop culture is dissolved, the established canon of subject matter has been broadened by the inclusion of numerous cultural phenomena that were long regarded as unsuitable for serious investigation.

Part of pop culture's new status in scholarship is certainly due to the increasing permutation of society by media, which has seen television – and now also the Internet – prevail as the typical vehicles for cultural self-understanding and -organization, while a burgeoning selection of communicative channels competes for our attention and all but overwhelms us with information.

Using cultural studies methodology to analyse pop-culture phenomena – which today, as a rule, are characterized by a meshwork of intertextual and intermedial traits – demands a productive give-and-take between different disciplines, such as sociology, literary and media studies, linguistics, art history and criticism, and anthropology. It is only with approaches that transcend the boundaries of field and subject that we may do justice to the continually growing diversity and complexity of pop-culture phenomena.

The working group for popular culture is intended to create just such an interdisciplinary forum. To arrive at a working overview of the analytical system of cultural studies, one that most comprehensively addresses pop-cultural phenomena in all their forms and functions, we will begin by reading and discussing salient theoretical texts. Parsing this theoretical and methodological basis should improve our analysis of the most diverse phenomena, developments, and disputed areas – past and present – not least for the benefit of members' dissertation projects. We also place emphasis on the presentation and discussion of members' own analytical designs.



  • Martin Butler
  • Arvi Sepp