CULT132-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020

Cultural Studies: Reading Culture

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


An introduction to Cultural Studies, emphasising aspects of the field that are most pertinent to English Studies: the textuality of culture, cultural history, and cultural value and taste.

This course is an introduction to Cultural Studies – an interdisciplinary field that is interested in the social and political dynamics of contemporary culture in all its forms. Our focus is on the textuality and readability of culture. This means that we look at how our everyday life is a constant exercise in encoding and decoding our cultural environment, including elements that are commonly thought to be ‘natural’.  While the course reads many different types of cultural ‘texts’ – including television programmes, films, advertising campaigns, digital media,  theatrical performances, print publications, websites, museums, zoos and tourist enterprises – it does so with the aim of explaining in accessible ways the theories and concepts that characterize Cultural Studies as a field. Reading Culture can act as a standalone course, or be used as the precursor to ENGL232 / CULT202 Cultural Politics / Cultural Activism.

Topics for 2020 include the following: how to ‘read’ culture; ideology and neoliberalism; nature and culture; sex and gender; youth subculture; digital culture; environments and ‘things’; humans and (other) animals; extinction and survival; popular culture; good taste and bad taste; and sentiment and nostalgia. Throughout the course, we will pay close attention to issues such as socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, and race.

(Image: "Mona" by Incase, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to
1.explain some of the ways that concepts such as ‘culture’, ‘cultural value’ and ‘taste’ are defined, contested and negotiated
2. identify, discuss and analyse some of the ways in which various cultural texts may be produced and received in different times and places
3. construct arguments about the processes by which cultural phenomena carry the values and anxieties of the societies from which they emerge;
4. apply key Cultural Studies concepts and methods to a wide range of everyday cultural texts, including examples of your own choosing

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Equivalent Courses

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Erin Harrington


Philip Armstrong


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Tutorial participation 10% Short week-by-week exercises undertaken in tutorials, designed to help you with your major assessment.
Take-home test #1 20% A short answer test that covers topics from the first half of the course.
Essay 30% An essay that asks you to analyse a cultural site or text, with reference to concepts covered in class.
Final take-home test 40% Two short essays related to concepts covered in the second half of the course.

Textbooks / Resources

All readings will be provided online.

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $777.00

International fee $3,375.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts.

All CULT132 Occurrences

  • CULT132-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020