Ok, folks, your final written case studies are due the last day of class (IN CLASS). Go here for more information about MLA citations. I recommend that you also make an appointment with a graduate tutor or Terrell (cultural studies major) at the Writing Center (you must make an appt; they are very busy these last two weeks).

Next week, the following students are also presenting their oral case studies (on any recent concept we’ve discussed): Olivia Jackson, Evelyn Torres, Sean Carter, and Cindy Ruiz.

I suggest that you all use the remaining two weeks to begin working on your final take-home exam and the revision of your case studies, so you are not overwhelmed at the end. If you have any questions, please email me.

I have included the final take-home exam below for those of you who weren’t in class or who misplace it:

Introduction to Cultural Studies: FINAL EXAM

Short Answer Questions:

Answer any six of the following eight sets of question below in approximately one paragraph each. All answers should be in your own words. Each answer counts for 5 points (for a total of 30 points).

  1. What is theory, and why is it important to our understanding of culture?
  2. In your own words, explain your understanding of cultural “signs.” Using your own example, explain how a cultural sign can have both implicit and explicit meanings.
  3. Explain how democracy is an example of an ideology (do NOT tell me what democracy is, but rather HOW it is an example of an ideology). Be sure to consider the main elements inherent within the concept, ideology.
  4. What is interpellation, and how does it work? Provide your own example of interpellation as you discuss the concept.
  5. When presented with an historical “fact,” what questions are necessary to ask? Why?
  6. In class we discussed how meaning is never fixed. Using your own example, explain how a cultural artifact can have multiple meanings and/or change in meaning over time (even though the actual artifact itself never changes)?
  7. What is hegemony, and how does ideology play a role in creating hegemonic societies?
  8. How do individuals within the panopticon become agents of their own oppression? Provide an example.

Long Answer Questions:

In no less than one full (double-spaced) page, and in your own words, answer two out of the following four sets of questions. Each answer counts for 15 points (for a total of 30).

  1. What does it mean to “read” a cultural artifact? What things would you consider when doing a cultural “reading”?
  2. Explain your understanding of the following sentence: “Gender is a social construction.”
  3. Who or what produces meaning? How and why? Be sure to use an example of your own when discussing how meaning is produced.
  4. Explain how certain commodities, such as a pair of shoes or boxer shorts, seem to acquire human qualities (such as sexy, romantic, humorous, cool, etc.)?

Reading of a Cultural Artifact:

Consider the following two cultural artifacts. Choose one and conduct a critical cultural reading. In no less than two (double spaced) typed pages, discuss your understanding of your chosen image as it relates to any of the relevant concepts covered within this class (such as ideology, race, hegemony, commodities, fetishism, identity, power, signs, meaning, etc.). Be sure that you do not simply write something like “This is an example of ideology,” but thoroughly, thoughtfully, critically, and logically explain HOW and WHY your image relates to the concept/s you discuss.

Regardless of which image you choose to do a cultural reading of, consider some of the following questions below, which are offered as a guide to help you get started. You certainly do not need to try to answer all or even most of the questions, but be sure that you do consider a broad number of possible concepts when discussing your image.

* There is no right or wrong way of reading either image; rather, I will be assessing your ability to apply some of the concepts you have learned in this class to a critical interpretation of a cultural artifact.

* Your answer will count for 40 points.

  1. What do you think the image means? How do you interpret this meaning? In other words, what signs suggest meaning and how?

  2. What are both the implicit and explicit meanings within the image? And how might meaning change in differing circumstances (such as time, place, who is viewing it, who produced it, etcj.)?

  3. What do you think is the purpose or function of the image? Explain.

  4. If a commodity is present, what is the commodity? How is it being sold? What ideologies are inherent within the image to help sell the product?

  5. What, if any, symbols of power or hegemony are present within the image? Why and how?

  6. How might context change the meaning? In other words, would the image mean something in one context and something totally different in another? How so? Explain.

  7. In what ways might the image speak to race, class, ethnicity, or social status? What does it say about any of the above? How?

  8. What assumptions are you making in your reading? And how might those assumptions change the actual meaning of the image?

  9. Who carries more authority over meaning in either of the following images? The author/artist? The viewer? How so?

  10. What, if any, historical context might be important to consider when attempting to “read” the image? Why?

Cultural Artifact # 1:


Cultural Artifact # 2:


For Thursday, November 29th, please read the following:

Consider some of the following sets of questions, and answer one set of questions fully:

  1. At the beginning of Hari’s article, she asks: “Do you believe in the rights of women, or do you believe in multiculturalism?” Why does Hari ask the question the way she does? What does the question alone suggest? What is Hari’s main argument, and what, if any, relevance to you think this has to “American” culture? What problems do you see with Hari’s argument?
  2. What do both Hari and Maconachy suggest is the primary flaw with multiculturalism? Discuss each author’s criticism of multiculturalism, as well as which points you agree and/or disagree with, and why.
  3. What does Maconachy suggest might be the solution to what he perceives is the problem with multiculturalism? Would his solution work in the United States? Why or why not? What elements of Maconachy’s article do you agree with, and which do you disagree with, and why?

Hi all — I HAVE EMAILED those of you who turned in a case study proposal, which is worth 15% of your final grade (yes, you get graded on both the proposal AND the final case study). IF YOU GAVE ME A PROPOSAL AND HAVE NOT HEARD RESPONSE YET, EMAIL ME: and let me know (I could’ve gone into your spam filter — and emailing me directly will probably unspam me).

Since your case studies are due next week, you don’t have to write a blog response, but please read the following for class discussion. These concepts will be in the final exam:


Also, for more information about formatting your case study paper and/or MLA style, see the following pages:


November 29th:

Andrew Oda, Chris Hemstreet, Samantha Paradiso; Maryann McGovern

December 6th:

Olivia Jackson (moved from Nov. 29th), Evelyn Torres, Sean Carter, Cindy Ruiz

Case Study #1 assignment guidelines:

The first case study is to be presented on one of the class dates that I will make available in class (you will sign up for your date the first day). For this assignment, you are to help open discussion of readings by locating a cultural artifact that illustrates or exemplifies one or more key points within the readings and discussing its relevance to the recent readings. Your goal is to assist your student colleagues in reading, analyzing, thinking about, and evaluating culture using the theoretical and critical ideas presented within the readings.

You should come prepared to discuss your artifact utilizing visual aids (images, web sites, handouts, etc.) as compliments to your presentation. Do not rely solely on these visual aids to make your case or argument; you must make the connections between the readings and your artifact explicit in your oral presentation.

You will have approximately five-ten minutes to do your in-class presentation. You may do your presentations individually, or pair up with the other student who also has to present on that day, in which case you should each talk about your artifact.

This case study presentation will count as 15% of your final grade.

For next week, read/view the following:real-panopticon.jpg

Consider the following questions – choose ONE SET to respond to:

  1. What example of the panopticon (either a model or structure) can you identify within your own neighborhood? How does it control social behavior and interactions? Discuss, specifically, how your panopticon example utilizes structure, setting, technology, and/or people (employees, guards, and/or other authoritative figures) to survey a large group of people? In what ways does your example fit into the characteristics of the panopticon, according to the article and video? Be sure to reference the reading when discussing your example.
  2. Why is the Internet potentially the most dangerous and/or powerful panopticon model? What examples can you specifically locate (other than those the reading makes reference to) that exemplify characteristics orsurveillance1.jpg elements of the panopticon? Some possible examples (there are many) include YouTube, MySpace, blog software, email providers, etc. How might the Internet, in general, and your example specifically, have an effect on your daily life? How does your example altar or affect your online behavior? Explain and describe, being sure to make reference to the reading.
  3. Utilizing an example not already used in the readings, explain and describe how the panopticon connects with power. Within your model of a panopticon structure and/or model, who is in power? How do individuals within the panopticon become agents of their own oppression? How do corporations, businesses, institutions, and/or governmental entities justify their use of panopticon structures, models, and/or techniques? Make reference to your example and the reading.

For next week, you have two things due:

Your Case study #2 proposals, the requirements of which I handed out to you all in class (but can also be accessed online).

Readings/Viewing (to respond to in blog):

  • “Differences,” p. 157-191, TT
  • “There is No Unmarked Woman,” p. 499-504, SOL
  • View: Ben Sharpa’s “Hegemony” (below)

Instead of asking you specific questions about the reading, I’m presenting a few image and text exercises below that I want you to consider, in relationship to what the texts and viewing talks about. Choose one out of the following three exercises and then respond to ALL of the prompt questions for each exercise:

1. First, go to one of your lengthier blog posts (should be at least two to three full paragraphs long) and copy your post. THEN, go to the following website: Gender Guesser, and where prompted, paste your blog response into the Gender Guesser and hit “ANALYZE”. What were your results? Were they correct or incorrect? (My sample, which I shall show you in class next time gave a very high probability that I was male AND European). Now — consider the following questions:

a) Thinking about the readings and how language is often “marked;” in what ways might this program have read your own writing and come up with the results that it did (whether correct or not)?

b) What do you imagine are certain “female” or “male” qualities within your use of language that made the program respond the way it did?

c) What does this program suggest about language and gender? How does this exemplify some of the arguments made by Deborah Tannen in “There is No Unmarked Woman”? Is language engendered?

2. Take a look at the following images, considering them in relationship to the readings.

gayguys.jpg ethnic-mix.jpg

a) What does each image suggest or communicate about gender, race, sexuality, and class? Why? How? Be sure to discuss each image and what it communicates in reference to the readings!

3. Consider Ben Sharpa’s video on Hegemony. In what ways does the video communicate race, gender, sexuality, and class? And how do these speak to the audience? How does the representations of any (gender, race, class, etc) seem to be utilized to make the message in the video stronger or more effective? Be sure to reference the readings when discussing the video.


Ok folks, I’m tossing a little Marx your way this week. I realize that the reading is difficult, but try your best. We’ll go over it in class, but take notes about what parts you do and do not understand. Karl Marx’s influence on our contemporary understanding of commodity culture is quite significant, so I wanted to expose you to some of his original writing.

For this week’s blog response, I want you each to focus on either one of the two following points of discussion:

1. Describe what you understand from reading Marx’s writing (his main argument/s and ideas) and how you think his main concept/s apply to (or exemplify) what you read about advertising and/or media culture.


2. Explain how bell hooks video examining rap culture either exemplifies or helps you to further understand your readings on advertising and/or media culture.



  1. Considering your readings and our class discussions up to this point, in what ways do you think the media and advertising play a role inbabymcds.jpg perpetuating and justifying current power relationships through the selling of material goods? In what ways does the media perpetuate hegemony? Give at least one solid example and discuss it in these terms.
  2. Consider the saying ‘You are what you consume.’ What examples from your own life can you identify that help to further explain this concept? Think about the products, clothes, food, and services you buy; in what ways do these lend to your sense of identity? How does what you consume fall into a hegemonic ideology?
  3. Describe, explain, and give your own example that illuminates your understanding of the “More Factor.” Be sure to tie your example inhegemony.gif with the readings (provide textual examples that help further explain or highlight your own cultural example).
  4. Consider Shames’ argument about America’s “frontier history” and its effects on consumer behavior. In what ways is this idea or concept about “frontier history” still influencing contemporary culture and our current levels of consumerism? Give an example and discuss.
  5. What contemporary example can you provide that is equivalent (or nearly equivalent) to the ideas and concepts Fred Davis discusses in regards to jeans? In other words, what is a current parallel material product that is as seemingly ubiquitous and pervasive as jeans? How does your example reflect the concepts we’ve read about and discussed: consumerism? ideology? hegemony?

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