Popular Culture in the 21st Century
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|Description:||Consider, for a moment, some of the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years to restructure the very fabric of our everyday lives: the home computer; the cell phone; the internet; ABMs; the 400 channel universe; the “Global Assembly Line”; discount airlines; communications networks that allowed most of the world to watch live on September 11, 2001 as the World Trade Centre burned.
Given these changes to the way we communicate and travel, it is not surprising that the way we think about ourselves is changing as well. Many people argue that for most of human history, most people could live out most of their lives without ever encountering someone with a different god or language. Is this idea of “cultural uniqueness” a myth or have human cultures always been “hybrid”? What we do know is that in recent years, the explosion of new technologies has led us to experience the world as both “shrinking” and “expanding” at the same time. On the one hand, the world is shrinking in the way that new technologies allow us to communicate and travel almost instantaneously. On the other hand, though, the world is expanding as we become exposed to new ideas, images, and cultures.
How significant are these changes? Is it actually an “epochal shift”? Is it the beginning of a whole new historical period - what some people have called “postmodernism” and others “globalization”? Or is it simply the continuation of trends that have been unfolding for hundreds of years? How do social difference and national identity affect people’s experience of these changes differently? And perhaps most importantly, how do we evaluate and live well within this new global condition?
Popular Culture in the 21st Century will explore questions at the heart of our changing world. Using examples from our everyday lives - whether they are the experience of “going for a coffee”, voting for your favorite “Canadian Idol”, watching a music video on BET, or shopping at the Eaton’s Centre - this course analyzes and contextualizes some of the most important features of culture in the 21st century.