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The course considers the strategic roles that culture can play in influencing political and social change, studying a wide variety of cultural texts and practices.
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.While this course is offered by the English department and the Cultural Studies programme, it provides an excellent grounding in a broad range of the sorts of theories that underpin contemporary study in the humanities and so will be of value to students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We regularly hear from students that this course has acted as an excellent foundational course for higher-level study. Students will also find that ENGL132 / CULT132 Reading Culture is a helpful precursor course, but it is not essential preparation. If you have queries about enrolment and pre-requisites, please contact the course coordinator.This course can be used towards an English major or minor. BA students who major in English would normally take at least two 100-level 15 point ENGL courses (which must include at least one of the following: ENGL117, ENGL102 or ENGL103), at least three 200-level 15 point ENGL courses, and at least two 300-level 30 point ENGL courses. This course is also co-coded CULT202 and can be used towards a Cultural Studies major or minor. Please see the BA regulations or a student advisor for more information.
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.
Biculturally competent and confident
Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.
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 the Schedule V of the BA.
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.Please note: because this course makes extensive use of copyrighted material and in-class discussion, ECHO videos will only cover portions of lectures. If we shift to lockdown, this course will shift to an asynchronous model with additional online participation. (Image: "If graffiti changed anything it would be illegal - Banksy" by duncanc, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Cropped from original.)
Domestic fee $785.00
International fee $3,500.00
* 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