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This course is a great introduction into race, gender and popular culture studies. We are surrounded by literature, film, series and music videos on a daily basis, from listening to Beyoncé, to watching Orange is the New Black to films such as Carol. We will question how we engage with representations of race and gender in popular culture, exploring how identity is constructed (for example femininity and masculinity) and deconstructing the complex notions that are rooted in our cultural system.
This course provides introduction into the way popular culture shapes discourses on race and gender. Throughout the course issues such as feminism, queerness, colonialism, desire and the representations of race and sexuality within popular culture will be unpacked and explored to help us engage with the culture we consume in a more nuanced way. We will complicate fixed ideas such as male and female, questioning how popular culture functions as site for forming and constructing race and gender. We will achieve this understanding by examining a range of different topics, including popular culture figures such as Jennifer Lopez, of whom Guzmán writes: ‘[her] media visibility creates an opening for cultural resistance because the unclassifiable nature of her identity vexes established representations of U.S. ethnic and racial identity.’ Through examples such as J-Lo we will explore the argument that the representation of ambiguous racialised identities has the potential to interrupt the binary logic woven into racialised and gendered bodies in popular culture. This feeds into a broader conversation regarding the colonial histories that shape hierarchies of beauty and desire, exposing and problematising the norms of desire that are perpetuated through popular culture. We will look to underline the important role of popular culture as a site of communicating racialised and gendered norms about desire, beauty and power.
The course is designed for all levels, from complete beginners to those with more experience with critical race and gender studies. It will appeal to students who want engage in scholarship on how popular culture influences us, as well as those who want to learn the basics of gender theory and critical race theory. This course will also appeal to those who do not merely want an academic approach as we will also be engaging popular culture texts and question how we can come to a more inclusive understanding of feminist and queer research. Course materials and visual materials will pay special attention to questions of culture, identity, class, racism, colonialism, archives and the body.
Why Study this Course?
- Delve into understanding the intersection between race and gender through exploring the meaning of intersectionality
- Analyse popular culture operates through an intersectional framework
- Explore how contemporary images are historically positioned and located in colonial discourses
- Engage with different theoretical texts to deeper understand what is communicated through popular culture
- Understand how popular culture shapes our understanding of race and gender
We are committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. If you require adjustments, please complete the relevant section on the booking form and also contact us at email@example.com so we can respond to your requests as soon as possible.
Please note that our short courses sell-out quickly, so early booking is advisable.
If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses (@gold.ac.uk).
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Chandra is an independent curator and feminist scholar. She interrogates the role of archives, transnational queer kinship, and the politics of pleasure, with an emphasis on the Black, Migrant and Refugee women’s movement in the Netherlands during the 1980s. She holds an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Cape Town and is a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London. Currently Chandra holds a guest lectureship at the California State University Los Angeles Pan African and Latin American Studies Department.
Aditi is a PhD candidate at Brunel, University of London. With an MSc in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice from SOAS, she has worked with numerous Black and brown grassroots organisations to bring a holistic and nuanced approach to human rights advocacy and social justice.
Aditi’s current work looks at the nexus between Black and brown cultural production in Britain, with a particular interest in creativity as decolonial praxis. Through her PhD, she explores the ways in which Black and brown creativity, audio-visual culture specifically, interrupts narratives of British coloniality, from the 1980s to the present.
Week 1: Introduction to the Course
- The course content, objectives and outcomes will be elaborated upon
- There will be a collective reading of a short text to provide you with an insight into the type of literature which will be covered in the course
Week 2: The “Other” in Popular Culture
- The ways in which racialised and gendered “others” will be explored
- The colonial and patriarchal histories that create “other-ed” subjectivities will be used to examine how such identities are consumed in popular culture
- There will be discussion of these concepts and themes based on the examples of “eating the other” in popular culture
Week 3: Mapping Popular Culture, Race and Gender
- The archive of popular culture’s representation of race and gender will be explored using Malik’s text on Black subjectivities in British TV as the starting point of analysis
- John Akomfrah’s work will be used to contextualise these racialised representations and provide you with an audio-visual frame of reference for these intersectional histories
Week 4: Black and Brown Audio-Visual Histories of Interruption
- Tracing the history of Black and brown audio-visual culture in Britain from the 1980s onwards
- A brief look at the infrastructure and institutional support that enabled Black and brown creatives to craft experimental work
- An analysis of the textual, political and social potency of the work in the context of anti-racist movements and an expansion on the concepts of Diaspora, Identity, Blackness and Queer.
- A look at how this work correlates with a politics and praxis of resistance
Week 5: “Bad Girls”
- The concept of a “bad girl” will be explored using references in popular culture; the history of these references will be examined in relation to discourses on womanhood and feminism
- The ways in which feminism complicated patriarchal narratives of womanhood will be elaborated upon using Sara Ahmed’s work on feminist killjoys
- The intersectional positionality of the bad girl will be explored and what this means for the identity of the bad girl will be discussed
- The “bad girl” in the context of the Asian Diaspora in Britain will be elucidated using Gurinder Chadha’s first feature film “Bhaji on the Beach”
Week 6: Navigating Desire in Popular Culture
- We will explore the racialisation of desire. Desire will be interrogated through the prism of colonial histories, looking at how this impacts on the ways in which certain racialised subjectivities may be represented and perceived
Week 7: Understanding Masculinities
- The racialised and gendered history of masculinity will be explored to situate the common tropes that are wedded to masculinity in popular culture
- Halberstam’s piece on feminine masculinities will be collectively read to complicate patriarchal notions of masculinity
- Representation of Black masculinity and how its representation in popular culture has shifted will be examined
Week 8: Performativity and Auto-Ethnography
- The ways in which racialised queer subjectivities are lived and performed will be explored as both a strategy of resistance and survival
- Auto-ethnography as a modality for emergent and decolonised knowledge(s) will be examined
Week 9: Finding Pleasure
- The power of pleasure in its nuanced and capacious conceptualisation shall be built upon using the work of Audre Lorde
- Pleasure as resistance will be explored in the context of histories of racialised oppression and sexism
Week 10: Class Presentations
- You will share a 5 minute presentation on a selected case study based on the themes from the course
At the end of this course you will have:
- An understanding of the key themes of gender and critical race theory
- Engaged in a process of reflection through a purposeful feminist framework
- Developed the skills to analyse popular culture examples
- Reflected on various constructions of femininity and masculinity
- Discussed and share with other participants Demonstrated critical thinking and analysed various approaches to race, gender and popular culture
About the department
Our Department of Media and Communications is committed to asking the hard questions about the media that will change the world in the 21st century. We are ranked 8th in the world for communication and media studies, and 1st in the UK for the quality of research. The Department works closely with the Centre for Feminist Research and the Centre for Investigative Journalism, as well as housing important research centres in media democracy and political economy.
As well as offering a range of undergraduate programmes, the department plays host to a range of dynamic and innovative postgraduate pathways. The Screen School houses a number of highly renowned filmmaking and scriptwriting programmes, and regularly hosts events in their state of the art lecture theatres and studios in the Professor Stuart Hall Building. The Department is devoted to integrating criticism and creation, through a mixture and theory and practice at all levels of study. Industry speakers, networking events, careers fairs and the option to undertake work placements alongside international exchange programmes connect us to the wide world of media work