Introduction to
Communication and Culture



In this course, we will be examining the ways in which culture functions as a system of representation, meaning, practices and power relations. And, we will consider the ways in which these functions are actively made and remade in daily life through a broad spectrum of communication media. In particular, we will consider how categories such as race, gender, class, and nationality are themselves culturally constructed categories ––even as they function to produce, sustain and transform culture.


This course offers students a broad introduction to core concepts, theories, and research perspectives within the field of culture and communication. Therefore, a primary aim of this class is for students to become familiar with concepts of culture that will come up again in future classes. In addition, students will develop a critical awareness of the cultural systems in which we live and the practices of which they are composed. By employing the tools of cultural criticism, students will learn to denaturalize or to make strange the familiar or the taken for granted.



Class One: Introducing the Course


Class Two: Introducing Culture and its Practices

  • Williams, R. (1977). “Culture” Marxism and literature. Oxford [Eng.]: Oxford University Press.
  • Carey, J. W. (1989). “A Cultural Approach to Communication” Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. Boston: Unwin Hyman.


Class Three: Culture and Power

  • Williams, R. (1977). “Hegemony” Marxism and literature. Oxford [Eng.]: Oxford University Press.
  • Berger, J. (1980). “The Suit and The Photograph” from About looking (1st American ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Foucault, M. (1978). “Method” from The history of sexuality (1st American ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.


Class Four: The Power of Language

  • Borditsky, “How does language shape the way we think?”
  • Anzaldúa, G. (2007). “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Borderlands: The new mestiza = La frontera (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.
  • Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies”


Class Five: Practices of Culture - Photographs and moving images

  • Sturken and Cartwright (2008) “ The Myth of Photographic Truth,” and “Images and Ideology,” in Practices of Looking: An introduction to visual culture (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Reading, A. (2009). Mobile Witnessing: Ethics and the Camera Phone in the ‘War on Terror’‚ Globalizations, 6(1), 61-76.
  • Goodwin, “Truth, Justice and Videotape,” in Inside the L.A. Riots, Institute for Alternative Journalism, 1992.
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw and Gary Peller, “Reel Time/Real Justice,” in Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising, Gooding-Williams ed, Routledge 1993: 56-70.


Class Six: Practices of Culture - Power, Configuration and the Body

  • Goffman, E. (1969). “Regions and Region Behavior” in The presentation of self in everyday life. London: Allen Lane.- CHAPTER 3
  • Garland-Thomson, R. (2009). “Regulating Our Looks,” in Staring: How we look. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Grigely, J. (1998). Postcards to Sophie Calle [Electronic Version]. Michigan Quarterly Review, XXXVII
  • Optional – Foucault, M. (1977). “Docile Bodies” in Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison (1st American ed.). New York: Pantheon Books. [highlighted selections]


Class Seven: Interpellation and subject formation - Gender

  • Bartkey, (1988). "Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power," 61-86 in Diamond & Quinby (eds). Feminism & Foucault: Reflections on resistance. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
  • Meyer, “Rock Hudson’s Body,” 258 –288 in Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, ed. Fuss. Routledge 1991.


Class Eight: Interpellation and subject formation - Race

  • Hooks, B. (1992). “Representations of Whiteness,” in Black looks: Race and representation. Boston, MA: South End Press.
  • Johnson, Leola (2010) “Obama’s Body and the Liberal Body Politic” in The International Journal of Communication 4:246-252.
  • Sylvia Shin Huey Chong (2008) “’Look, an Asian!’: The Politics of Racial Interpellation in the Wake of the Virginia Tech Shootings,” in Journal of Asian American Studies, 27-51.


Class Nine: Globalization and Nationalism

  • Hall, Stuart (1993) “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power” in Formations of Modernity, Stuart Hall and Bram Gieben (eds.), Cambridge: Polity Press, 185-225.
  • Appadurai, Arjun (1990) “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” in Public Culture 2.2 (1990): 1-21.
  • Anderson, B. (1991). “Introduction” In Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso.


Class Ten: Standardization and Mass Culture

  • Adorno and Horkheimer, (1944). “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” in During (ed, 2007). The cultural studies reader (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.
  • Sturken, M., & Cartwright, L. (2009). “Chapter 6: Advertising, Consumer Cultures and Desire” in Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Dávila, Arlene (2001), “Introduction,” in Latinos Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Samantha King, “Stamping out Breast Cancer: The Neoliberal State and the Volunteer Citizen.” Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy. University of Minnesota Press: 2006, 61-79.