The popular culture movement was founded on the principle that the perspectives and experiences of common folk offer compelling insights into the social world. The fabric of human social life is not merely the art deemed worthy to hang in museums, the books that have won literary prizes or been named “classics,” or the religious and social ceremonies carried out by societies’ elite. The field of popular cultures studies continues to break down the barriers between so-called “low” and “high” culture and focuses on filling in the gaps a neglect of popular culture has left in our understanding of the workings of society. Particular strengths at MSU include popular literature, music, film, and comics.
Faculty members working in this area include Tamar Boyadjian, Gary Hoppenstand, Ann Larabee, David Stowe, and Edward Watts.
Students who choose the Popular Culture Concentration complete four courses (13 credits) focused on Popular Culture Studies. There are five different possible courses, although some can be repeated as the topic changes. Three of these courses may count towards requirements in the major. All courses in the concentration fulfill 36-40 credit total for the B.A. in English. The concentration will be noted on the student’s transcript.
The requirements for the Popular Culture concentration are:
1. The foundational course (4 credits):
ENG 340: Theory and Methods of Popular Culture Studies 4
This course counts in lieu of ENG 280
2. Both of the following courses (6 credits):
ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literary Genres 3
ENG 440: Seminar in Popular Culture Studies 3
Note: ENG 342 can be used to satisfy the genre requirement,
while ENG440 can fulfill the Post-1800 literature requirement
3. One of the following options (3 credits):
ENG 325: Readings in Graphic Narrative 3
ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literary Genres (if a new topic) 3
ENG 440: Seminar in Popular Culture Studies (if a new topic) 3
Other ENG courses may be used to satisfy this requirement when their content sufficiently includes a popular culture focus; please consult with your advisor for this year’s options. There is a good deal of flexibility in this program.
Alongside the concentration, students fulfill four of the core requirements in the English major outside the Popular Culture Concentration: Literary studies I (ENG210), Literary History (ENG320A, B, or C), Diversity literature (ENG350-356), Pre-1800 literature. Any remaining 36-40 credits are filled by electives.