Veranstalter  Lars Schmeink 
Thema  Introduction to Popular Culture 
Art der Veranstaltung  Seminar Ib
Veranstaltungsnummer 53-563 
Zeit  2st., Mo 14-16 Uhr 
Raum  Phil 1219 
Beginn 04. April 2011 

Seminar am Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik der Universität Hamburg, Sommersemester 2011


When discussing ‚popular culture‘ everyone seems to have a definition in mind, mostly based on the idea that ‚culture‘ refers to anything a society produces and that ‚popular‘ describes to what most people like. Taking this into consideration it quickly becomes clear though, that in this definition so much is included that it becomes virtually useless. If there is such a thing as ‚popular culture‘ what would its opposite be? High culture? Folk culture? The „absent other“ (Storey 1) against which popular culture is defined, is one of the aspects which we want to analyze in this seminar. Additionally, we want to weigh different theoretical approaches that can be taken towards popular culture (incl. questions of race, class, gender) and of course get an overview of the different genres and modes that make up most of popular cultures‘ output. As ‚popular‘ is such a wide category – transnational, transmedial, transcultural -the course will be offered in both American and British studies, it will deal mostly with literature and it will concentrate on late 20th and early 21st century culture.

We will look at popular genres and topics such as the crime novel, the fantastic, science fiction, romance, as well as young adult fiction. And yes, we might even take a look at Harry Potter and Twilight … critically! And on April 11th esteemed guest, Prof. Dr. Farah Mendlesohn (Middelsex University, London), will be teaching the course.

ATTENTION: This seminar will take the form of a research project workshop in which students will research their own popular cultural topics and will present them in form of a two-day ’symposium‘ at the end of the term. Also, the seminar will go ‚hand-in-hand‘ on several topics with the lecture series ‚Aufbruch in Fremde Welten‘ (53.526 – Tuesdays 6-8 pm) and attendance (in at least six sessions) at the lecture will be mandatory. As compensation for this, your semester-schedule will include weeks off for individual study and research when there is no class.
Course times: 04.04. / 11.04. / 18.04. / 17.05. / 23.05. / 30.05. / 06.06. / 20.06. / 27.06.
Off times: 25.04. / 02.05. / 09.05. / 04.07. / 11.07.
Symposium weekend: 02. and 03.07. – Both days are for presentations and discussions of research projects, times depend on the size of the seminar …

Reading material
Reading material will be made available during the seminar as a reader or via Agora platform.

Course requirements:

  • Active participation and regular attendance as well as 6 mandatory sessions of lecture series 53.526
  • individual research on popular culture project and presentation at symposium
  • short term paper (in the form of an academic wiki entry, such as those to be found at the „Portal to the Fantastic“ of the Uni Salzburg