What does it mean to pierce your nose – and how has that meaning changed? When you wear Nike, are you shaping yourself, or being shaped by an outside influence? Do television shows and films create popular culture, or are they an outgrowth of it?
A new undergraduate course in the Faculty of Arts called the Philosophy of Popular Culture will invite students to consider these kinds of questions. Taught by Dr. Jennifer Dyer, of the Department of Philosophy, the course will explore the production and history of pop culture, and how it interacts with audience.
“Who makes popular culture? Is it a creative thing or a commercial thing – or both?” Dr. Dyer asks. “This ties into its history: what are the conditions that change culture?”
She adds that while some people might disagree, she believes popular culture has existed as long as there has been a mass of people to serve as its audience – and certainly since the invention of the printing press.
The course will bring in aesthetics, cultural studies and media studies. Case studies and texts will be used to explore mainstream culture and some subcultures, and aspects such as how culture affects people of different ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.
“We will look at where individuals in relation to popular culture,” notes Dr. Dyer, who is the director of the master’s of philosophy in humanities program.
Students will be introduced to some classic philosophical thinkers. In their coursework, they will have an opportunity to choose a cultural object that interests them and analyze it.
Philosophy 2800 Contemporary Issues: The Philosophy of Popular Culture is a course with no pre-requisites, and is designed to appeal broadly. It will be offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12-12:50 p.m.