Examining Popular Culture (UNST 254)


This course introduces the Examining Popular Culture cluster. In this course students will become more active, informed, and self-aware observers of the media that saturate our world. Students will analyze how popular culture artifacts reflect and influence the social, cultural, historical, and commercial contexts of our everyday lives. Students will examine how the concept of "popular culture" has evolved, and might continue to evolve, with the emergence of new media forms, in local, national, and global contexts. Employing a variety of scholarly approaches, students will engage critically and creatively with media-driven consumer culture and the ways in which it speaks to different social identities. As students study the ever-expanding role that popular culture plays in global communities, they will develop as engaged readers of text, proficient researchers in the many scholarly approaches to popular culture, and persuasive writers and speakers. By treating popular culture as a subject of rigorous scholarly inquiry, students will be in a better position to treat the texts of popular culture skeptically, critically, and with an awareness of their contextual implications. 


Popular Culture is generally associated with media and activities: music, movies, TV, Internet, advertising, sports, games, fashion, magazines, comic books—in short, “fun” stuff that many people enjoy. Pop culture offers a common ground that we, as theorist John Storey says, can use to get a fairly accurate read on the values and beliefs of contemporary American society, as well as cultures around the world. Through the process of myth reading and in recognizing and decoding signs of everyday life, students will observe, research, and write about cultural phenomena and gain experience with different methods while delving into popular media. The end goal of these courses is to gain control of, rather than being controlled by, the texts of popular culture.

Featured Pathways


  • Communication
  • English
  • Film Studies
  • Music History

Examining Popular Culture Cluster Courses

Examining Popular Culture Learning Outcomes

Cluster Coordinator: 
Leslie Batchelder Ph.D., Assistant Professor of University Studies
Office Number: 
CH 117 D
PSU Phone: