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ENGLISH 3750: Topics in Cultural Studies: "What Does Culture Make/Let Us Do?"

Dr. Paula R. Backscheider
9082 Haley Center
(334) 844-9091
Office Hours: Fridays, 3:00-5:00


In this introduction to Cultural Studies, we will explore why it has become one of the major kinds of literary analysis and practice some of its most important methods. Among the questions engaged through a wide range of novels and notable, even bizarre events in America and Great Britain that made the news are "What is culture?" "How is a culture created and maintained?" "Whom does it empower? Control? Nurture? Support? Damage? Crush?" In studying events, questions will include "What in the culture gave rise to an action?" "What other cultures existed and became visible because of it?"

Requirements: Short oral and written reports, a sustained project centered on a cultural event, a 10-page take-home mid-term, and a final exam.

Required Books:

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ed. Mary Favret, 4th ed. (New York: Norton & Company, 1999).

Bertolt Brecht, Galileo, ed. Eric Bentley, trans. Charles Laughton (New York: Grove/ Atlantic, 1994).

Peter Brooker, Glossary of Literary and Cultural Theory, 3rd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2016).

Kate Chopin, The Awakening, ed. Nancy A. Walker, 2nd ed. (New York: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 1999).

Custom Broadview Course Text (only in Haley Center Bookstore) - The Broadview Anthology of Restoration & Early Eighteenth-Century Drama, ed. J. Douglas Canfield and Maja-Lisa von Sneidern (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2019).

Erich Segal, Love Story (New York: Harper Collins, 2012).



13: Introduction - analyzing culture. Jon Caramanica, "Lil Nas X's Smash Makes Country Wonder if Rap is Friend or Foe. Again." from New York Times; Hunter S. Thompson, from "The Hell's Angels, a Strange and Terrible Saga" from The New Journalism, ed. Tom Wolfe and E. W. Johnson.

27: + Kate Chopin, The Awakening.


3: Raymond Williams, "The Analysis of Culture" from The Long Revolution, 41-71; Stuart Hall, "Culture, Community, Nation" from Representing the Nation, ed. David Boswell and Jessica Evans; Clifford Geertz, "Centers, Kings, and Charisma" from Culture and Its Creators, ed. Joseph Ben-David and Terry Nichols Clark.

10: + Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and John Fiske, "Cultural Studies and the Culture of Everyday Life" from Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A. Treichler.

17: + Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

24: + Erich Segal, Love Story and Marie Catherine, Comtesse d'Aulnoy, "The Isle of Happiness."


2: Mid-Term exam due and discussion.

Spring break

16: Reports and Glenn Jordan and Chris Weedon, "When the Subalterns Speak, What Do They Say?" from Without Guarantees: in Honour of Stuart Hall, ed. Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg, and Angela McRobbie.

23: * Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer and Erving Goffman, "Performances: Belief in the Part One is Playing" from The Performance Studies Reader, 3rd ed., ed. Henry Bial and Sara Brady.

30: * John Dryden, All for Love debate.


6: Rudolf Arnheim, "Centers as Hubs" from The Power of the Center, 109-32; Stuart Hall, "Signification, Representation, Ideology" from Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 106-113; George Haggerty, "Heroic Friendships" from Men in Love.

This week: Attend Marion Bridge, Telfair Peet Theatre, on 9th, 10th, or 11th.

13: + Bertolt Brecht, Galileo and discussion of Marion Bridge.

20: Final reports.

Final exam: 28 April 4-6:30

* In Broadview anthology

+ Book to purchase

All other readings are on Canvas