Issues in Twentieth-Century American Popular Culture

Parsons School of Design: Sch. Art and Dsgn Hist and Th

Liberal Arts
Graduate Course
Majors Only
Popular Culture
Fall 2023
Taught By: Marilyn Cohen
Section: A

CRN: 16124

Credits: 3

It cannot be more important—or more popular—to take popular culture seriously. Considering that a recent U.S. President achieved fame and office largely through a reality TV show, popular culture is more than simply leisure and entertainment. This course examines popular culture at the intersection of visual and material culture in twentieth-century America. We look at the evolution of popular culture as a field of study within cultural studies, examining the perennial debate between what constitutes high and low culture as a matter of history and class difference. Topics include TV, movies, cars, Disney, Barbie, etc., and are explored through the design of sitcom interiors, film posters, packaging, souvenir objects and the like. We investigate the impact of new materials such as plastic and aluminum on 20th-century design and life. Whether considered as objects or “goods,” everyday things consume us, perpetuating ideologies of class, race, and gender, making popular culture inseparable from the politics, economics, and aesthetics of capitalism. American popular culture is especially thorny given its potential to create meaning at home through concepts such as The American Dream and then disseminating these nationalist ideas at home and abroad—along with our factory production—to other countries and continents. The 20th century became the century of mass production and consumerism; social media in the 21st century has only increased and expanded the power of popular culture. Students research, write papers, and make presentations in concert with readings by diverse scholars of cultural theory, design studies, media, and art history. Participation in class discussion is an essential part of the course.

Open to: All university graduate degree students.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Sch. Art and Dsgn Hist and Th (ADHT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Lecture (L)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 15

Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 9:24pm EDT 10/1/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Monday
Times: 4:00pm - 5:50pm
Building: Parsons 2 W 13th
Room: 311
Date Range: 8/28/2023 - 12/11/2023