HIST 615: Problems in American History

HIST 615-005: The Culture Industries
(Fall 2024)

07:20 PM to 10:00 PM M

Innovation Hall 316

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Section Information for Fall 2024

Does it matter that our popular culture is produced as a commodity to be sold on the market?  Do economic incentives make culture more democratic and diverse, or do they stifle creativity and protest and change? Does the entertainment industry produce new forms of community and connection in the public sphere, or does it create an audience of isolated individuals or a mindless mass?  These questions were first posed in the early twentieth century, as social theorists and cultural commentators noticed the application of industrial techniques to the mass production and distribution of cinema, music, novels, and radio.  But they remain vital today, in the age of algorithms, niche markets, and the attention economy.  This course provides an introduction to the rich and varied intellectual tradition that has analyzed popular culture by emphasizing its economic foundations.  We will begin by surveying some classic works of theory (Frankfurt School, Birmingham School, etc), then study major works examining the history of the U.S. culture industries in the twentieth century, before concluding with an exploration of the impact of the internet on contemporary culture. 

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 1-6

Readings and discussion of bibliographies, interpretations, and research trends in topics selected by instructor. Notes: May be repeated for credit when topic is different. May be repeated within the term.
Specialized Designation: Green Leaf Related Course, Topic Varies
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Junior Plus, Non-Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Graduate Regular scale.

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