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GWST 2700: Critiquing Cultural Identity: History, Theory, and Practice

I taught this course at the University of Denver in the Fall of 2007. Below you will find links to the course references, the Culture Jamming assignment (which is one of my favorites), and the course description and objectives.

Click here for course references.

Click here for more information about Culture Jamming.

Course Description
This interdisciplinary course aims to provide historical, theoretical, and practical context for cultural critique. Our anchor points for this context will extend from the “pre-modern” to the contemporary. Through an historical tracing of the rise of modernism and its ancillary theories, we will create a foundation from which to launch such a critique. Communication will be central to our discussion, as cultural and identity markers such as gender, sexuality, race, and class are made meaningful through language.

 

Drawing from performance studies, cultural studies, communication, and other fields, the course will offer a theoretical foundation of feminist, queer, and critical theory to provide lenses through which to view culture; including popular culture and media discourses. Critical thinking and analysis will be crucial in identifying the ways in which power, ideology, and hegemony operate within culture, and cultural institutions. Through class discussion and dialogue, we will address the practicalities of our cultural positions and privileges, and illuminate the ways in which we, as consumers of culture, may perpetuate and resist these power structures.

In the course we will be doing a close reading of foundational and controversial texts (including written, performed, and mediated texts) in order to determine how our varied and diverse perspectives inform, expand, and challenge the course materials.

Objectives

By the end of the course students should be able to:
• Define meaningfully, for themselves, culture, criticism, and identity,
• Recognize how power works to influence cultural identity and perception,
• Recognize that identities are complex intersections influenced by (but not limited to) race, class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality,
• Discuss the ways in which we, as everyday actors, can perpetuate and resist certain aspects of culture,
• Critically engage cultural products (scholarly texts, current events, popular culture, performances, etc) in discussion in order to question, defend, extend, and transform existing knowledge and perceptions,
• and Launch historically, theoretically, and practically informed cultural critiques using honed critical thinking skills.