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This course offers students a grounding in Cultural Studies theories and methods. It examines the political dynamics and historical foundations of contemporary culture, and the strategic roles that it can play as a force for change. Drawing from a wide variety of examples, it focuses on how culture - as a process, as a practice, and as the production of meaning - functions as a battleground in the assignment of and struggle for social power.
This course considers how 'culture' - as a process, as a practice, and as the production of meaning - functions as a battleground in the assignment of and struggle for social power. We will address how culture operates in terms of social control and resistance, and consider how we might ‘read’ culture, much as we would read other forms of texts. We will explore ways that subjects and subjectivities are produced, and how bodies are shaped and controlled through discourse. Throughout the course, we will consider how these ideas inform various forms of cultural activism – a blend of artistic expression and activism grounded in the need for social justice and political change.As Cultural Studies is interdisciplinary, we will apply theoretical and practical debates to a wide range of contemporary cultural texts and modes, from films, television, museums, music, social media, satire, advertising, drag, and visual art, to everyday acts of social and political resistance like culture jamming. In the first half of the course, we will consider the history of some of these forms of cultural activism, alongside debates about culture, industry and authenticity. In the second half, we explore contemporary approaches to space, bodies, identities, taste, and power. We will pay close attention to issues such as socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, and race / ethnicity. Throughout we emphasise our context in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific, for instance, by connecting calls for decolonisation in Aotearoa to other forms of resistance here and abroad. Students will be invited to apply theories and concepts to their own examples and experiences throughout the course’s classes and assessments.This course provides an excellent grounding in key theories that underpin contemporary study in the humanities and will be of value to students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We regularly hear from students across different programmes, including the BA, BCYL and BSW, that this course has offered an excellent foundational course for higher-level study. Please note this course emphasises in-person engagement and is not designed to be taken by distance. Lectorials are interactive; they are designed to lead students through an exploration of big ideas through discussion and questioning. Assessments are structured carefully to help students develop skills throughout the course. ECHO recordings of lectures will be made available as study resources, but these are not a useful replacement for consistent in-person participation.Please note that course has an emphasis upon in-person engagement, and is not designed to be taken by distance. Lectures have a strong discussion component. Assessments are structured carefully to help you develop skills throughout the course. ECHO recordings of lectures will be made available as study resources, but these are not a replacement for consistent in-person attendance.
By the end of this course, you will be able to: 1. explain how and why ‘resistance’, ‘control’, ‘identity’ and ‘authenticity’ are complex and problematic terms2. demonstrate an understanding of some key works of critical and cultural theory by describing key concepts and applying them to a wide range of everyday cultural texts and practices3. analyse and problematise ways that cultural forms and practices have, over time, been assigned meaning and value4. evaluate some of the ways that subjects and subjectivities might be constructed, negotiated and contested5. appraise the textuality and politicality of cultural forms and practices by developing thoughtful arguments about examples of your choosing, including examples from Ōtautahi Christchurch and Aotearoa New Zealand
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.
Employable, innovative and enterprising
Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.
Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.
Any 15 points at 100 level from CULT or ENGL, orany 60 points at 100 level from any subject.
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Please note: this course does not have a final exam.
All resources will be provided via Learn. This includes written work from theorists and writers, including Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Guy Debord, Jean Baudrillard, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, Gloria Anzaldúa and Michel de Certeau, alongside new media and film from artists such as filmmaker Merata Mita (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Te Rangi) and Pasifika arts collective FAFSWAG.(Image: "If graffiti changed anything it would be illegal - Banksy" by duncanc, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Cropped from original.)
Domestic fee $821.00
International fee $3,750.00
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see
Humanities and Creative Arts