COMM 111: Introduction to Popular Culture

Citrus College Course Outline of Record

Citrus College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Fall 2023
Credits: 3
Total Contact Hours: 54
Lecture Hours : 54
Lab Hours: 0
Hours Arranged: 0
Outside of Class Hours: 108
District General Education: C2. Humanities
Transferable to CSU: Yes
Transferable to UC: Yes - Approved
Grading Method: Standard Letter

Catalog Course Description

Overview, history and critical analysis of popular culture as a window for understanding American society. Theories and methods of analyzing artifacts of popular culture will be explored. Overarching themes include history and social theories of popular culture; pop culture as a product of American multiculturalism; the relationship between a commodity culture and intellect/artistry; philosophical/ethical issues surrounding popular culture. 54 lecture hours.

Course Objectives

  • Evaluate the influence of popular culture on contemporary society.
  • Interpret artifacts of popular culture from an historical and social perspective.
  • Synthesize critiques of popular culture.
  • Identify and analyze the sources of popular culture.
  • Engage in critical thinking concerning assumptions of race, class and gender imbedded in popular culture.

Major Course Content

Introduction and Background

  1. Historical overview of late 20/21st century American culture
  2. Defining popular culture: high culture versus popular culture
  3. Popular culture and artist


  1. Advertising and American capitalism ethical issues
  2. Advertising: critical analysis (e.g., conscious /subconscious imagery)
  3. Images of women in advertising feminist critique


  1. Television as a reflection of American cultural values/ideals
  2. Current television phenomena (e.g., reality shows)
  3. Television and social criticism: The Simpsons, Modern Family, etc.


  1. Multiculturalism and American popular music
  2. Popular music versus classical music historical perspectives and shifting boundaries
  3. Rock, rap, and the Doctrine of Ethos can music influence human behavior?
  4. Music and visual culture, i.e. music videos


  1. Technology and evolving communication/language
  2. Democratization and cyberspace
  3. Technology and shifting social contracts


  1. Football and semiotics (football as an American metaphor)
  2. Critical analysis sports as Dubord's Spectacle


  1. Reflections on the American dream--Hollywood as a purveyor of American culture
  2. Race and gender stereotypes in contemporary films
  3. Film analysis--artistry in American films

Student Presentations/Topics of special interest to students

Suggested Reading Other Than Required Textbook

Other readings as assigned, such as:
Alberti, John. "Text Messaging: Reading and Writing about Popular Culture."
Bauerlein, Mark. "The Dumbest Generaton: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future."
Bell, David and Hollows, Joanne. "Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste."
Bergesen, Albert J. "The Depth of Shallow Culture: The High Art of Shoes, Movies, Novels, Monsters, and Toys."
Brottman, M. "High Theory/ Low Culture,"
Chang, Jeff. "Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation."
Galas, J. "Computers and the Internet: Examining Pop Culture,"
Glassner, B. "The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things,"
Grazian, David. "Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society."
Hesmondhalgh, David. "The Cultural Industries."
Hirschberg, S and T, "Every Day, Everywhere: Global Perspectives on Popular Culture"
Johnson, Steven. "Everything Bad is Good For You."
Lasn, Kalle. "Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - And Why We Must."
15. Maasik, S. "Signs of Life in the USA: Readings of Pop culture - 6th edition,"
16. McCloud, S. "Understanding Comics,"
17. Paterson, Mark. "Consumption and Everyday Life."
18. Rose, Tricia. "The Hip-Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk Hip-Hop... and Why It Matters."
19. Schlosser, E. "Fast Food Nation: the Dark Side of the All-American Meal,"
20. Sivulka, Juliann. "Soap, Sex, and Cigarettes: A Cultural History of American Advertising."
21. Storey, J. "Inventing Popular Culture: From Folklore to Globalization,"
22. Tapscott, Don and Williams, Anthony D. "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything."
23. Thomas, Dana. "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster."
24. Varnedoe, K. and Gopnick, A. "High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture,"
25. Wilson, Carl. "Lets Talk About Love: A Journey To The End Of Taste." New York: Continuum, 2007.

Examples of Required Writing Assignments

Please read a book from the above list and give a 15-minute presentation on CCC Confer outlining the main points. Lead a class discussion on the topics outlined.
Choose one artifact of popular culture and write a short paper (3-5 pages) that explores the significance of the work socially, culturally and/or politically.

Examples of Outside Assignments

•Weekly reading assignments ranging from 10-20 pages per week. •Written analyses of artifacts of popular culture. •Weekly learning reflections in which students identify the large ideas presented that week. •Online discussion forums based on course readings and analyses of artifacts of popular culture

Instruction Type(s)

Lecture, Online Education Lecture

IGETC Area 3: Arts and Humanities

3B. Humanities