Courses: User Generated Content: Popular Culture in a Digital World (WRPRH158A01)

Fall 2013

The slogan for YouTube (“Broadcast Yourself”) encapsulates the contradictory promises of digital popular culture. Digital culture offers inexpensive technologies for users to share creative productions with the entire world. Indeed, many of us already broadcast ourselves, uploading pictures, films, and status updates by the minute. Yet platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter license and, in some cases, own our creations; they need unpaid users to keep generating content if they want to profit. Taking this tension as our cue, this seminar will analyze how digital media is changing the meaning of popular culture. If “popular culture” once signified a homogenous mass culture, cranked out by media conglomerates, how does digital media alter the definition of popular culture? Does our active participation in a digital popular culture truly signal a new frontier for democracy, as many people claim? How does user generated content alter the divisions that once shaped our understanding of popular culture, such as highbrow/lowbrow, producer/consumer, and public/private, and what new divisions does digital media create? We will explore these questions through close readings of critical essays, popular articles, and a wide array of digital popular culture, which may include works by Mark Danielewski, Caterina Davinio, Katherine Hayles, Michael Joyce, Robert Rodriguez, Stephen Soderberg, and Stephanie Strickland. In the process, students will learn to analyze and connect diverse texts to generate new insights in their own critical writing.

Prerequisites: Open only to First-Year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.

Fulfills: HU FW Limit:12


Haverford, Gest 102

Meeting Times

MW 11:30-1:00