Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

An Introduction to Cultural Studies

 Brief Overview 

The course will attempt to introduce students to the new and exciting discipline of Cultural Studies. In this course, we will try to grasp with how cultural spaces, times, products and ideologies are implicated in the power relations of the society. This course will help students from across disciplines such as Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, History, and English Literature to get acquainted with novel and nuanced theoretical concepts and familiarize themselves with the novel approaches to the study of culture that have developed in the last few years across the world.

In this course, we will take a critical stock of how the idea of culture has been framed by scholars from various disciplines. By questioning the traditional formalist approaches to culture, we will expand the scope of culture to deal with concepts such as “Culture Industry and Art”, “Modernity and History”, “the City and Architecture”, “The Popular Culture and the Nation”, “Multiculturalism”, “Culture/Gender/Politics”, and “Globalization and Culture” etc.

 Course Objectives 

  • To introduce students to basic concepts in Cultural Studies.
  • To help students acquire a grasp over critical concepts and vocabulary and provide them with a methodological toolkit.
  • To encourage students question the traditional approaches to art/culture.
  • To help students inculcate new and better-informed approaches and theoretical frameworks, which can be used in the contemporary professional fields.
  • To ensure that students learn to engage with, interpret and respond to select complex theoretical texts. 

 Teaching Methodology 

  • The students will be expected to read the material distributed in the class and critically contribute to the ideas discussed in the class.
  • A lot of audio-visual material will be used in addition to assigned readings.
  • The students will be expected to write responses to the articles discussed in the class.
  • Classroom discussion will require students to bring in their own experiences and worldviews

 Course Outline 

Sr. No Topics Hours
1 Unit 1: Theory and Method
1. Culture Industry and Enlightenment as Mass Deception
2. Culture and History
3. Collecting Art and Literature
4. Walter Benjamin
2 Unit 2: Culture, Space and Time
1. Modernity, Space and time
2. The City and the Flaneur,
3. Power and Knowledge
4. Colonialism, Space and Architecture
3. Unit 3: Colonialism, Post-Colonialism and Nationalism
1. What is the Nation?
2. The National popular
3. Post-Colonialism and History
4. Unit 4: Difference, Multiculturalism and Questions of Gender
1. What is Multiculturalism?
2. Culture and Difference
3. Sexuality and Difference
4. Desire and Sexuality
5. Unit 5: Consumption, Leisure and the Market
1. Entertainment and Utopia
2. Advertising and Culture
6. Unit 6: The Public Sphere
1. The Public Sphere and its History
2. Habermas
3. Rethinking the Public Sphere